MGM will partner with Chicago-based TV station group Weigel Broadcasting Co., which will put the network on its three outlets in Chicago, Milwaukee and South Bend. Veteran TV station executive Neal Sabin, executive vice president of Weigel, will oversee the programming on the new network.
The network, launching this fall, will have a strong initial emphasis on children's entertainment. Cookie Jar Entertainment will handle all of the children's programming, including FCC-approved educational informational shows. National advertising sales for the network will be run by Kim Bryson, senior vice president of advertiser sales for MGM.
Local TV stations' schedules have all but abandoned most kids' TV programming efforts in recent years, leaving the bulk to Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and some modest Saturday-morning kids' programming blocks on the broadcast networks. Two such blocks, on Fox and the CW, have outsourced programming by 4Kids Entertainment.
In a press release, Weigel's Sabin said the network will count on MGM's vast library of 4,100 films and 10,000 hours of television programming, which will help target a broad range of demographics.
A number of locally based digital TV networks have attempted to start up in recent years, all with mixed results. One network, Retro Television Network, launched recently airing older TV shows, such as "Bonanza," "Hogan's Heroes" and "Happy Days" on some 70 stations' local digital signals.
Others, such as Tube Music Network, a network of music videos, have gone out of business. Tube ceased operations last October.
Given the changeover to all digital signals in February 2009, proponents believe these digital networks will be a boon for traditional TV outlets.