Satcaster keeps channel on the air for now

F ox Reality Channel gave way to Nat Geo Wild on March 29, right? Well, almost.

Fox Reality lives on, at least temporarily, on DirecTV’s air. The satcaster hasn’t agreed to carry Nat Geo Wild, but it hasn’t dropped Fox Reality either.

Fox Cable Networks decided last fall that Fox Reality’s long-term prospects were limited and that its 50 million-plus household distribution base would be better served by a U.S. incarnation of Nat Geo Wild, a channel that has performed well for Fox in key international markets in recent years. Nat Geo Wild bowed March 29 on the vast majority of subs that had been dedicated to Fox Reality. But not on DirecTV.

DirecTV and Fox Cable Networks happen to be in the midst of a complicated negotiation covering new contracts for a whole bunch of Fox-owned cablers. DirecTV isn’t anxious to flip the switch on a new Fox channel until it has hammered out the fine points on the renewals for Fox’s existing cablers. The satcaster has the right to drop Fox Reality, but it hasn’t gone to that step yet because once a programmer loses a channel slot entirely, it’s an involved process to put them back on the lineup. (That also comes as a strong indication that DirecTV execs are resigned to having to pick up Nat Geo Wild at some point in near future.)

So what is Fox Reality showing in its not-quite-dead state? Fox-owned library shows on heavy rotation — gems like “Busted and Disgusted,” “Battle of the Bods,” “Sex Decoy,” “My Bare Lady” and “Solitary 4.0″ — and infomercials.

Reps for Fox Cable Networks and DirecTV declined to comment.

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