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MGM links with Weigel Broadcasting for digital subchannel offering

Launching This TV Network, a round-the-clock service stocked with movies and old shows from MGM's library

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, impressed with what Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting has done in packaging vintage TV shows under the Me TV and Me Too brands, announced Monday it is partnering with the parent of local outlets WWME-Ch. 23, WMEU-Ch. 48 and WCIU-Ch. 26 on a national offering called This TV Network.

A round-the-clock programming service stocked with movies and old shows from MGM's library as well as children's fare from Cookie Jar Entertainment, This TV will be made available for stations to air on their digital subchannels, beginning this fall. MGM describes it as "a turn-key solution for generating revenue for the digital spectrum."

Weigel Executive Vice President Neal Sabin, who developed Me TV, Me Too and The U brands locally, will oversee the programming for This TV from Chicago. Ad sales will be managed from MGM's New York office.

"We've built a number of successful stations in competitive markets, and having MGM's rich library of quality entertainment will provide our broadcast partners with a distinctive advantage," Sabin said in a statement. "The This TV name also gives us a number of on-air marketing opportunities such as: 'THIS is the place for movies,' 'THIS is the channel!' 'Stay here for THIS' and 'THIS is what you're watching.' "

This TV plans to leverage the MGM library of more than 4,100 films and 10,000 hours of TV programming, as well as that of Cookie Jar Entertainment, home to children's properties such as "Johnny Test," "The Doodlebops" and "Caillou."

Chicago's WCIU will air This TV on one of its subchannels. Weigel stations in Milwaukee and South Bend also will carry the service.

"As our partner Weigel has proven with Me TV, film and television content properly marketed to a local TV audience can succeed in a multi-channel universe," Jim Packer, co-president of MGM Worldwide Television, said through a spokesman.

"This TV will provide stations with instant variety of quality programming to fit their digital needs," John Bryan, MGM's executive vice president of broadcast strategy said in a statement. "Our station partners can simply sign up, and start enjoying the new opportunities in the digital space."

Full-power analog television transmissions are scheduled to end Feb. 17, 2009, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The switch to digital will give each broadcast outlet extra channels with which to reach viewers, although it is not known how effectively broadcasters will be able to aggregate audiences to monetize these subchannels.

philrosenthal@tribune.com

Related topic galleries: Movies, Consumer Electronics Industry, Government, National Government, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Incorporated, Television

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