Cable Channel to cease operations by March 31

After weeks of rumors, News Corp. made it official Wednesday in announcing the impending shutdown of the Fox Reality Channel.

The cabler will cease operations by March 31. Execs waited until after the Tuesday night taping of its annual “Really Awards” in order to break the news to channel staff.

News Corp. is mum on what will replace the network, now available in almost 50 million households. According to the Wrap, which first wrote about the shutdown, a complete rebranding of the channel is in the works — and may include a new partner outside the Fox Cable Networks group.

Fox Reality Channel topper David Lyle is in talks with News Corp. about other jobs at the conglom, while programming topper Bob Boden had already announced his intentions to depart and join the new Hasbro Studios, where he’ll develop reality and gameshows.

Boden was never replaced — and now it’s clear why.

Fox Cable Networks released a brief statement on the shutdown: “With the changing cable landscape we’ve made a strategic decision to shift some resources and refocus on emerging channels. However, Fox Reality Channel will remain on our lineup for at least the next several months.”

Launched in May 2005, Fox Reality Channel aired a mix of acquired reality repeats as well as a slew of originals (“Reality Remix,” “American Idol Extra,” “Gimmie My Reality Show!”). Network also co-produced “Paradise Hotel” with MyNetwork TV.

A Fox Cable spokesman batted down an earlier rumor that the conglom might be looking to turn Fox Reality into a comedy channel.

Scuttlebutt surrounding a Fox Reality Channel shutdown first emerged several weeks ago — although execs at the network at the time said they hadn’t heard of any such news.

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