AEG tuning in to TV

L.A. Live events offered to area stations

AEG is looking to expand into the television biz.

The concert promotion and facilities giant behind downtown’s L.A. Live complex has shopped a proposal to area broadcast stations about partnering on a digital channel that would feature telecasts of some events at the Staples Center and Nokia Theater. AEG brass envision that the channel, dubbed L.A. Live, will feature a range of other programming tied to music, sports, fashion and travel events with an AEG connection.

AEG aims to capitalize on the national switch to all-digital broadcasting set for Feb. 17. AEG is pitching the channel as advertiser-friendly programming that a local station could run on one of its digital multicast channels or on the bandwidth available to a station when it is not broadcasting at maximum high-def strength.

AEG is in the midst of building a $20 million broadcast facility within its L.A. Live complex that would serve as the central hub for the channel.

AEG prexy-chief exec Tim Leiweke told Daily Variety that the Anschutz Co.-owned group has had talks with local stations with the intent of striking a partnership with one outlet for the channel. Leiweke also said the group has broader plans for national and international TV channels featuring AEG-related events. It is recruiting execs and operations staffers to facilitate the TV expansion initiative, but Leiweke would not elaborate on the specifics.

“We are committed to creating a lifestyle channel that would be about music and fashion and sports and point-of-destination travel. This lifestyle channel will have various means of distribution,” Leiweke said. “We’re very, very committed to (building) a big distribution opportunity here. Although (the channel) will not be solely focused on content from L.A. Live, it will be headquartered in Los Angeles.”

Telecasting full-length concerts and other events from AEG venues would involve a thicket of rights issues, of course, but AEG’s heft in the worldwide concert and sports biz gives it extra clout with rights holders.

L.A.’s major commercial TV stations already have the additional channel real estate available, as most local outlets made the switch to digital broadcasting more than two years ago.

But finding profitable programming options for those channels has been a challenge. NBC O&O KNBC Los Angeles has been among the most active, with its News Raw digital channel featuring extended coverage of news conferences, local events and, at present, O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial in Las Vegas.

AEG sees the Feb. 17 digital switchover date as a good target launch date for the L.A. Live net to capitalize on public awareness that new local channels may soon be popping up on the digital TV dial.

“When we see changes in the landscape come next February, I think you will see (that) we will be part of that switch,” Leiweke said.

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