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Foxtel preps entertainment net

Australian pay TV broadcaster Foxtel will launch a new general entertainment channel to replace TV1, which is set go dark after its owners CBS Studios International, NBCUniversal (NBCU) and Sony Pictures Television (SPT) were unable to renew carriage deals.

TV Hits, owned and operated by Foxtel, will go live on January 1, the day after TV1 ends.

It will carry programming primarily from CBS, Sony, Warner Bros and MGM and will sit alongside Foxtel’s other entertainment channels, Fox Classics and 111. Its line-up will include NCIS, the CSI franchise, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends and How I Met Your Mother.

The move comes after the parties behind TV1 failed to agree terms on continuing with the channel earlier this year.

Meanwhile, NBCU is launching its own service, Universal Channel, on January 1. C21 understands the studio decided to roll out its own-branded channel after its output deal with Seven Network expired this year and no other free-to-air network or Foxtel was willing to commit to an output arrangement.

The Universal Channel will air programming such as The Michael J Fox Show, The Night Shift, Perception, Rake, Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock, Rookie Blue, Covert Affairs and Suits.

Christine Fellowes, MD of Universal Networks International, Asia Pacific, said: “Our significant investment in Universal Channel underscores our commitment to the brand and its key role as a portfolio driver for our channels’ business in Australia.”

NBCUniversal’s Syfy launches on Foxtel early in 2014, replacing SF, which was owned by CBS, NBCU and SPT.

In related news, Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein has unveiled an electronic programme guide enhancement that enables viewers to browse back by up to 26 hours on selected channels to watch shows that have already been made available on the internet.

Freudenstein said: “This exciting new feature will dramatically increase the amount of content available to our customers so they don’t miss out on the shows they love.”

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