The Turner BroadcastingSystem has made it official: Two new cable networks are in the works, Turner Classic Movies and CNN Intl.Ted Turner, chairman and prexy of Turner Broadcasting, leaked word of the channels two weeks ago in a Detroit speech, and the TBS board approved them June 4. Turner Classic Movies, which expects to kick off in mid-1994, will be a copy of American Movie Classics, with wall-to-wall commercial-free theatricals mainly from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will draw on the 3,300 movies owned by Turner, encompassing the pre-1950 MGM output, the pre-1948 Warner Bros. library and all of the 700 or so pictures RKO produced before it went out of business in 1957. Brad Siegel, executive VP of TNT, who’ll be in charge of TCM, said the new channel will also negotiate to buy exclusive windows to older movies from the other major studios. TCM is cable operator-friendly, Siegel said, because he’ll offer it as a separately priced channel, so it will not be subject to regulation under the Cable Act of 1992. Although Siegel declined to go into detail, one source said if the cable operator offered TCM to the subscriber for a monthly fee of, say, 50 cents, TCM would try to extract at least half of that figure, because it would be forgoing any revenue from advertisers. (Pay networks pocket anywhere from 35% to 60% of the retail price.) Turner will package its other new network, CNNI, from the three separate CNN feeds that now reach across the globe. Focusing on international news, sports and business, CNNI will be available this fall. Peter Vesey, VP of CNNI, acknowledged that it’ll be a “niche network, of interest mainly to a narrow circle of people” who dote on international news, particularly foreign-born adults now residing in the U.S. Although CNNI will accept advertising, Vesey said the circulation will be so small initially that the channel will be using its spots mainly for public-service announcements and for promotional clips that’ll hype Turner’s other networks: CNN, CNN Headline News, TBS and TNT.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more