Cabler to set up shop in Albuquerque

Movie-centric cabler ReelzChannel is moving to New Mexico.

The channel announced plans Wednesday to relocate its corporate headquarters to Albuquerque, where parent Hubbard Media Group already operates a local TV station.

Decision to shift the channel’s operations means ReelzChannel will shut down its base in downtown Los Angeles, where it currently employs around 160 staffers. Channel’s headquarters in Minneapolis-St. Paul will also be impacted.

The cabler had already handed pinkslips to 40 employees in December, as ReelzChannel canceled production on its signature daily series “Dailies.”

It turns out the decision to yank “Dailies” was a precursor to the larger move to New Mexico, which has been in the works since last fall.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and ReelzChannel chairman/CEO Stan E. Hubbard unveiled the move at a joint press conference in Albuquerque.

Execs said the channel would save $20 million annually by moving to New Mexico, which is believed to be offering ReelzChannel several financial incentives in the move.

“The network’s decision to relocate operations to New Mexico is a testament to the hard work we’ve put into making our state a world-class production destination,” Richardson said in a statement.

ReelzChannel, now seen in 43 million homes, had opened its all-digital production facility at the Los Angeles Center Studios three years ago. Channel now plans to vacate those offices by May, and open a smaller bureau in L.A. to still cover some movie-themed Hollywood events.

The cabler also will still handle ad sales out of New York, Chicago and L.A. offices. Programming, production, web development, creative services, marketing and communications will now be based in New Mexico.

“New Mexico is the ideal home for the channel devoted to everything about movies — given the state’s bustling movie growth, its highly skilled and creative talent pool and the opportunity to streamline operations,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard will move from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Albuquerque as part of the change. Not expected to make the move: ReelzChannel president/COO Gary Thorne and exec VP/GM Terry O’Reilly, among others.

Some ReelzChannel staffers will be asked to move to New Mexico; the channel also announced plans for a job fair next week to find potential new employees. The state expects the move to create 100 new jobs.

Hubbard Media Group first drew up plans for ReelzChannel, then called Moviewatch, in 2000. Channel launched in September 2006.

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