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.

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