NBC U Converting Trio to Broadband

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Ring out the old, ring in the new.

On Jan. 1, NBC Universal will convert arts and culture proponent Trio from a linear service to a broadband initiative, accessible at TrioTV.com (www.triotv.com) and through an icon at sister service BravoTV.com (bravotv.com).

At launch, NBC U officials said broadband users would be able to screen fare fromseries Brilliant, But Cancelled, as well as content from its pop-culture AwardsMania and Uncensored stunts.

Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo and Trio, said it is yet to be determined how much content will be able to migrate from the linear network to its new broadband incarnation.

“There are a lot of issues surrounding digital rights that have to be sorted out with stakeholders,” she added. “We’re going to be busy in the weeks ahead.”

Zalaznick did say TrioTV.com will place a strong focus on documentaries -- “lots of stuff about TV and, definitely, music.” She noted that content would come from existing properties, “unique acquisitions and original productions.”

Asked what will become of Trio’s current linear distribution base of some 8.8 million home, she deferred questions to NBC U Cable president of entertainment and content strategy Jeff Gaspin, who was not available for comment by press time.

Speculation has NBC U’s newest entry -- mystery and suspense network Sleuth -- grabbing some of that carriage.

Trio said it has notified its affiliate cable systems that the service will be discontinued.

Trio, along with USA Network and Sci Fi Channel, was part of NBC’s acquisition of Vivendi Universal Entertainment -- a deal that was finalized in May 2004.

The network lost about one-half of its distribution base when DirecTV Inc. dropped it at the beginning of the year.

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