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MTVN Finds a Satellite Slot for Logo

5/08/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Trying to jump-start distribution for its startup network, MTV Networks is switching out one of its small diginets, VH1 Mega Hits, and replacing it with the new gay-targeted Logo, officials said last week.

VH1 Mega Hits, which plays hits of the ’90s to the present, will be supplanted by Logo on MTVN’s satellite transponder next month, MTVN confirmed last week.

CONVERSION TALKS

Logo is scheduled to launch June 30 with roughly 10 million subscribers.

MTVN president of affiliate sales and marketing Nicole Browning is banking that she will be able to convert most of VH1 Mega Hits’ distribution, roughly 6 million homes, over to Logo.

MTVN is currently in negotiations on a Logo carriage deal with MSOs representing most of those 6 million subscribers, according to Browning, and is “very confident we’ll conclude.”

VH1 Mega Hits, which launched in 2002, is part of MTVN’s Suite, a package of 13 digital services that includes Nicktoons and Noggin. But VH1 Mega Hits hasn’t built up any steam, so MTVN thought Logo would be a better use of both the diginet’s bandwidth on cable systems and its slot on MTVN’s satellite.

“We felt Logo is a really viable product, and we had gotten a lot of good feedback on it,” Browning said.

“And it’s obviously a great business for us and a great business for affiliates, and we wanted to get it to market quickly. And this switch-out was really in response to that, as well as being responsive to bandwidth constraints.”

Cable operators who now carry VH1 Mega Hits but don’t cut a carriage deal for Logo won’t get the gay network switched on June 30.

Only systems with Logo deals can carry it.

In those instances, MTVN will probably offer those system the option of carrying another Suite network, if they so choose, according to Browning.

NOT NICE SPIKE

The situation with VH1 Mega Hits and Logo won’t be the same as it was when MTVN transformed The National Network’s format, making it over as Spike TV, a men’s network, which operators then automatically had to carry.

Logo has carriage deals with Time Warner Cable, RCN Corp. and Adelphia Communications Corp., and is in talks with MSOs such as Comcast Corp.

MTVN also said that it will scramble Logo’s signal.

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