WB Pay TV plays music

ANAHEIM — Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV will produce a weekly half-hour music magazine series exclusively for DirecTV, to begin in February 1988.

Larry Chapman, executive VP of DirecTV, told a news conference at the Western Cable Show that one of the purposes of the series is “to build awareness for the concert events that we schedule and for our 32 CD-audio channels.”

Two music specials will also be part of the deal, Chapman said. Depending on the price of the talent on these two specials, they’ll be either pay per view or, like this week’s Rolling Stones concert, a freebie to DirecTV subscribers. Huge performer guarantees might make it impossible for DirecTV to present the concert for free.

Chapman’s counterpart at Warner Bros. Pay TV, exec VP Eric Frankel, said the music show will be different from the news reports that now run on MTV and VH1 because it’ll cover areas that MTV shies away from, such as movie soundtracks and country performers. “Lots of people want to know about Garth Brooks’ new CD,” says Frankel. And movie soundtracks are a natural area of coverage because movies form the bulk of DirecTV’s programming.

Warner Pay TV has become a more active producer of programming, with the weekly “Robin Hood” hours on TNT, the weekly hourlong “Hard Rock Live” music series on VH1 and the shift of “Babylon 5” originals from firstrun syndication to TNT.

Ed Bleier, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV, used the news briefing as a platform to proclaim that “February will be the biggest month in the history of pay-per-view” because of the lineup of movies, including “Face/Off,” “Contact,” “Con Air,” “Conspiracy Theory” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

But he added that some cable operators will not get Warner Bros. movies like “Contact” and “Conspiracy Theory” at the same time as DirecTV because the ops are not willing to put up the buy-rate guarantee that Direct, which gets it the earlier window, has agreed to.

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