Turner Launching TNT-HD in May

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Hollywood -- Turner Broadcasting System Inc. is finally proceeding full steam into the HDTV arena by launching a stand-alone HDTV version of Turner Network Television this May, officials said Tuesday.

TNT-HD, an HDTV simulcast of TNT, will offer what Turner is touting as the broadest range of dramatic programming ever assembled in the HDTV format, including series, sports, movies and originals.

Immediate plans do not call for any specially developed programming for the service, which will mirror TNT's regular programming lineup.

While programmers such as Discovery Communications Inc. and ESPN have already rolled out stand-alone HDTV services, Turner had previously only dabbled in the format.

Last February, TNT’s coverage of the National Basketball Association All-Star Game was in HDTV. This February, TNT will do the All-Star Game in HDTV again, leading up to the May debut of TNT-HD during the network’s coverage of the NBA Western Conference Finals.

Turner unveiled the plans for its stand-alone HDTV network at the Television Critics Association’s tour here.

In an interview following Turner's TCA presentation, Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus told Multichannel News TNT-HD has "already been negotiating with operators" and has distribution deals in place. He would not identify the MSOs.

Lazarus noted that TNT-HD has "a separate rate card" and is not "tied in with other services."

TNT-HD’s HDTV offerings will include the network’s new dramatic series, The Grid, with Dylan McDermott and Julianna Marguiles, which will premiere this summer.

"The HDTV platform adds value for our distribution partners and our customers by offering them the kind of high-profile, dramatic programming that has made TNT a television leader in an environment that heralds the future of television," TBS Inc. president of domestic distribution Andy Heller said in a prepared statement.

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