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ReelzChannel co-founder resigns

Perth's duties absorbed by COO Thorne

Rod Perth, co-founder and president of ReelzChannel, the cable net devoted to news about movies, has resigned, his duties to be absorbed by chief operating officer Gary Thorne.

“The decision was mine,” said Perth, who will continue to have an office at Reelz’s Los Angeles office, serving in the role of consultant-adviser when he turns over the reins to Thorne next month. “But this doesn’t mean in any way that I’m out there looking for my next gig.”

Perth “has helped to position us well for growth in distribution,” said Thorne, who added that rollout agreements with cable operators such as Comcast, Time Warner and Charter have positioned Reelz to jump to 40 million subscribers by the end of the year. The projection for late 2008 is 50 million.

When the plan for Reelz first surfaced seven years ago, Perth joined with Thorne and Stan Hubbard, chairman-CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting, to lay the groundwork for the network.

Unable to get deals for a number of years, Reelz broke through when it decided to rely exclusively on advertising revenue, giving the network free to cable operators and satellite distributors. Reelz kicked off in September with a strapping 28 million subscribers, mostly from the satcasters DirecTV and EchoStar.

A spokesman for Reelz declined to comment on its business plan, but the network could go into profit in 2009, its fourth year on cable and satellite.

Reelz’s tagline is “Everything about movies — 24/7.” Its focus is on news and information related to movies in all of their windows: theatrical release, DVD, pay-per-view, video on demand, pay TV, basic cable and broadcast TV.

“Dailies,” hosted by Mike Richards (“Beauty & the Geek”), is Reelz’s signature show, a five-a-week half-hour (one hour on Friday) that Thorne equates to ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

Reelz will start subscribing to Nielsen ratings in summer ’08, in time for the 2008-09 cable upfront. Reelz won’t have to find a replacement for Perth, Thorne said, at least in part because it can draw on the experience of two of its top staffers: Ian Valentine, senior VP of programming, and Patty LaVigne, senior VP of marketing and creative services.

(ReelzChannel is the sponsor of the Variety Dailies Review video feature on Variety.com.)

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