Network to air the show live on Jan. 7

VH1 is making its first push into awards-season programming, inking a three-year deal for the Critics Choice Awards.

Net will run the show live Jan. 7 from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, also airing a pre-show, as well as building out movie content online, execs said. (E! aired a taped version this year.)

“We’ve been looking for a way to get into movies for a long time. We think this really gives us the right voice,” said VH1 prexy Tom Calderone.

Net has a number of music kudocasts, such as flagship show “VH1 Rock Honors.” But it has never before aired a movie awards show.

Nods, handed out by the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., have had several television homes this decade.

Four years into a deal with E!, kudofest jumped to the WB in 2005 under a three-year pact.

But with the dissolution of the broadcast net in 2006, the awards returned to E! this year, as part of the seventh year of the original deal. (E! had retained backup rights that were eligible to be exercised when the WB went under).

Next year’s show will mark the first time net is clear of both E! and WB deals.

The Critics Choice Awards are voted upon by about 200 television and radio film critics. BFCA prexy Joey Berlin has been trying to give them a profile to rival that of the Golden Globes, citing the January show as an early indicator of Oscar winners.

This year, he said, show was predictive of Oscar winners in six of seven major categories.

“We really feel we have the New Hampshire primary of awards shows,” Berlin said.

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