MGM, Weigel team up for new digital channel

Also: RTN loses CBS programming

Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting and Los Angeles-based MGM are teaming up to launch this.

Yes, this.

As in “This TV”.

Beginning in October, MGM and Weigel plan to launch the new-digital channel, featuring classic movies and television shows from the MGM library (material that wasn’t bought by Ted Turner in the 1980’s, so no Chips, Gone With the Wind or The Wizard of Oz.)

To meet FCC-mandated educational children’s programming, Weigel and MGM also struck a deal with Cookie Jar Entertainment.

Weigel plans to program “This” on one of its digital channels in the Chicago, Milwaukee and South Bend, Ind. markets, where Weigel owns television stations.

Already, Weigel’s low-powered classic TV stations WWME-TV (ME-TV) and WMEU-TV (Me-Too) are on digital subchannels 26.2 and 26.3, respectively.

With the digital switchover due to take place in February, many local broadcasters are going to be scrambling to find programming to fill their digital channels, and executives at both parties feel “This” fills the bill. Plus, it gives viewers who don’t have cable or satellite another viewing option. The network also plans not to use paid programming.

Neal Sabin, who runs all three of Weigel’s television stations in Chicago, is running the new outfit.

The network plans to air a lot of films, including 12 Angry Men and the 1968 version of The Producers. TV shows scheduled to air include The Addams Family, Fame, Rat Patrol, and The Outer Limits. Stations can customize the look so it can have a local feel.

– With the announcement of “This”, it could spell trouble for financially troubled Retro Television Network, which recently saw its deal with CBS Television Distribution come to an end. Last Monday, all CBS-owned programming was yanked from the digital subchannel net, including Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, Hogan’s Heroes, and Happy Days.

RTN is now relying almost exclusively on the NBC Universal library, which in some markets is airing Leave it to Beaver as much as four times a day to replace the CBS programming (they might as well rename it the Universal Classic TV Channel.)

RTN was sold recently to Henry Luken, the largest shareholder of former owner Equity Media Holdings.


2 thoughts on “MGM, Weigel team up for new digital channel

    • Retro Television Network programming has yet to appear on a sub-channel of WKRG-TV in Mobile. I was looking forward to watching “Get Smart” again until the news regarding the distributor.

      “To meet FCC-mandated educational children’s programming, Weigel and MGM also struck a deal with Cookie Jar Entertainment.”

      This is one of the reasons why the Children’s Television Act of 1990 needs to be repealed. The federal government should have no interference in the programming of a TV network. Removing such legislation would be good news for the networks and stations willing to air great programming on Saturday mornings and for many aspiring animators.

    • Yes, I do agree. In the late 1970’s and in the 1980’s, I looked forward to Saturday Mornings, but I knew something started going wrong when they started making TV shows based on Pac-Man and Rubik’s Cube and other junk. In the early 1990’s, the business rebounded somewhat with “Garfield” (one of my favorites) and the “Ninja Turtles”, but by then it was too late. Saturday Mornings nowadays consist mostly of educational fare, news, and infomercials. If you want to blame someone for the CTA, blame Peggy Charren.

      RTN isn’t likely come to Chicago, with Me-TV here, but with much of the NBCUni library, they should stick around, but now they’ll have to compete with MGM for affiliates.

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