The CW struck first in its affiliate sign-up race with News Corp.'s ( NWS) MyTV Network.

The CW, the joint network venture of CBS ( CBS), Time Warner ( TWX) and Tribune ( TRB) stations, said it has signed up five affiliates representing over 4% of total TV households.

The new network was created early this year as a combo of the money losing enterprises of UPN and the WB. News Corp.'s Fox Stations scrambled to find an alternative to what is being billed as the fifth broadcast network, and announced the formation of their own new network, MyTV, which will compete for affiliate deals with the CW.

The CW agreements are with a Winston Broadcasting station in Cleveland, an Emmis ( EMMS) station in Orlando, Capital Broadcasting in Charlotte, Cascade in Louisville and Weigel Broadcasting in South Bend.

The combination of these five newly signed affiliates, plus affiliation agreements with Tribune Broadcasting's 16 WB stations and CBS' 11 UPN affiliates, brings the broadcast network's national coverage to almost 52% of the country, according to the company.

More important, it now has station presence in 18 of the nation's top 20 markets.

"They are the first independently-owned stations to join The CW, and they represent the first wave of new affiliations, with many more to come in the weeks ahead," said operating chief John Maatta in a statement. "These groups represent tremendous local station success stories, a blend of WB and UPN affiliates whose ratings and station value has increased tremendously due to their network affiliation over the past decade."

On Wednesday, CBS traded up 19 cents to $24.65, while Time Warner rose 10 cents to $17.41.