Tuesday, January 04, 2011

MGM to make MeTV roar nationally


As have been speculated for the last few weeks, MGM announced today it will team up with Weigel Broadcasting to distribute MeTV nationally. MGM’s domestic television sales department will handle national distribution of the channel and national advertising sales.

MeTV airs product from CBS Television Distribution, Twentieth Television, Paul Brownstein Productions, and a few independent producers. Classic shows currently on MeTV include Cheers, M*A*S*H, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Twelve O’Clock High, Gunsmoke (1966-75 episodes only) and Marshal Dillon (the syndicated title of Gunsmoke’s half-hour episodes.)

MeTV of course, began here in Chicago by Weigel in 2005 on low-power WWME-TV, focusing on classic television programming and expanded to Milwaukee in March 2008. On December 15, Weigel created a national feed of the channel, while creating a local version on MeToo. The national feed is currently being carried on Weigel’s stations in Chicago (WWME, WCIU 26.3), Milwaukee (WBME), and South Bend, Ind. (WBND) as digital subchannels.

MGM already partners with Weigel to distribute This, a digital subchannel and has become the most widely-cleared digital network, with clearances covering 85 percent of the country including digital subs of WCIU in Chicago, WPIX in New York, and KTLA in Los Angeles. This launched in November 2008 and airs primarily movie programming from MGM’s library, but also some television series in off-peak hours, such as The Outer Limits and The Patty Duke Show.  Weigel and MGM officials believe MeTV and This are percent compliments of each other, and MGM plans to target stations who are carrying This and even the other classic TV digital network which recently launched (Antenna TV) to pair them up with MeTV.

The move comes as MGM’s financial picture has become clearer over the last several weeks. The studio recently exited Chapter 11, and restructured its management. MGM is hoping to return as a major player in Hollywood, which it hasn’t been over the last decade or so due to financial problems.

On tap for MeTV is a Green Hornet marathon to coincide with the release of the motion picture of the same name later this month. Starring Bruce Lee, The Green Hornet ran on ABC during the 1966-67, but reruns of  the series drew a loyal audience in syndication. Around Valentine’s Day, MeTV is brining back the classic anthology comedy Love, American Style, which hasn’t been seen in general syndication since the 1980s. Love originally aired as a one-hour prime-time program (with three or four segments) on ABC from 1969 to 1974, but was cut up into half-hours for an ABC daytime run and moved into off-network syndication in September 1975. Love briefly ran on MeTV and MeToo in 2008.

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