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Antena 3 launches Nitro

Inks WB, Fox, U deals

Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 is launching Nitro, a nationwide digital terrestrial free-to-air TV channel whose programming backbone will be dramas and movies from the U.S. majors.

Nitro starts regular broadcasting Aug. 23 as a male-oriented channel targeting 35-to-55 year olds.

Antena 3, owned by DeAPlaneta, has inked deals for Nitro with Warner, Fox and Universal.

“Around 85% of Nitro’s initial weekly schedule will be U.S. programming,” says Bernd Reichart, A3 managing director of digital channels.

The Warner deal will allow Nitro to air recent TV dramas including “Southland,” plus catalog titles such as “Third Watch.”

With Fox, A3 has extended a close, longtime relationship, inking for “X Files.” “24,” which A3 has already aired, will be another Nitro highlight: The channel will preem “24’s” seventh and eighth seasons, and program the TV movie “24: Redemption” in Nitro’s first day on air.

A3 has licensed “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and “Columbo” from Universal.

Nitro also will broadcast new episodes of Canadian-series “Flashpoint,” acquired from Alchemy, and will air Spain’s free-to-air market premiere of Australian drama “Rush,” sold by Southern Star.

“Nitro is a brand that needs to be defined through its contents,” Reichart says. “Globally powerful franchises such as ’24’ help to define the channel.”

A3’s wide-ranging feature library, including titles from Paramount and MGM, will provide action titles for Nitro’s primetime movie strand, Nitrocine.

As France’s digital TV market has already suggested, deregulation is not an immediate boon for local producers. Monetary concerns force the new channels to look for cost-effective acquisitions such as Hollywood content.

A3 launched its first DTT services, youth-skewed Neox and lifestyle web Nova, five years ago. Neox and Nova respectively scored 2.6 and 1.9 monthly shares through July 27, up 40% since Spain’s April digital switch.

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