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Court boosts subs, rejoins MediaOne

Legal channel also signs with DirecTV, AT&T, Comcast

CHICAGO — After being dropped five months ago by cabler MediaOne, Court TV has signed a new affiliate deal with MediaOne to get back the subscribers that it lost.

In addition to its new distribution agreement with MediaOne, the crime-and-punishment channel has also signed new long-term affiliate deals with satcaster DirecTV, and cablers Comcast and AT&T.

Through these deals, Court TV will add 2.4 million subscribers in the third quarter and a total of 6.4 million homes in the coming years. The cable web will end 1999 with almost 40 million subscribers, up from 34 million at the beginning of the year.

1 million subs

MediaOne, which has agreed to be purchased by AT&T, will return Court TV to its New England systems and will add the channel to its Los Angeles systems, for a total of 1 million subs.

“MediaOne dropped us going into the Western Cable show (in late 1998) and added us back five months later,” said Henry Schleiff, president and CEO of Court TV. “This is a bellwether for our turnaround.”

Schleiff attributed Court TV’s distribution gains to the network’s recent ratings increases and its commitment to produce original programming.

“Cable operators want networks with a distinctive voice,” said Schleiff. “They want networks that shout something.”

Romance pact

AMC spinoff Romance Classics also signed an affiliate agreement with MediaOne, which has 5 million subscribers. MediaOne has committed to launch Romance in more than 3 million homes on analog (traditional basic) tiers. Judi Allen, senior VP of video for MediaOne, said the cabler agreed to carry Romance to better serve its female viewers. When MediaOne completes its Romance Classics roll-out, the cable web will have 28 million homes.

Another new cable web that targets women, style, also announced a new affiliate deal. The E! spinoff has secured a carriage deal with Adelphia to be added to the cabler’s newly acquired systems in Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Bel Air and Beverly Hills, Calif., representing 100,000 subscribers.

By 2001, style will be launched on every Los Angeles-area system being rebuilt, for a total of 1.1 million subscribers. Adelphia will also add style to its Florida systems for an additional 500,000 homes by 2001.

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