Movie Net goes for Extra

SYDNEY — Aussie moviecaster the Movie Network, owned by Warner Bros., MGM and Disney, will add a third channel to its lineup and unveil a new logo and on-air look Sept. 7.

On that day, premium service Movie One and classic channel Movie Greats will be joined on cabler Optus Vision by Movie Extra, mainly showcasing telepics and miniseries, and a major three-month print and radio campaign will bow, to be followed by a TV campaign early ’98.

Movie Network chief exec Mike Lattin said he aims to produce 12 Movie Network original made-fors within three years in co-productions with free-to-air webs, presumably part shareholders Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network and Kerry Packer’s Nine web, in addition to continuing investments in theatrical movies.

But despite Lattin’s large ad campaign and talk of increasing local production commitments, Oz feevee remains a financial blood bath.

In recent months, Optus Vision has downsized its workforce and hiked fees (resulting in subscriber growth stalling), while News Corp. cabler Foxtel and struggling satcaster Australis Media’s Galaxy TV have agreed to merge.

And it is understood that talks aimed at having movie channels air on the Optus Vision and Foxtel/Galaxy platforms, to arrest disturbingly high numbers of subscribers quitting feevee, are proceeding. Some say the extra services could appear as a tier on competing carriers for an additional fee within six months.

“I can see us even providing our channels to Foxtel at some point,” Lattin said, refusing to be drawn further. “The question is how do they recapture some of that money amid the economies of 6 million homes with two separate carriers with exclusive programming.”

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