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New Lifetime channel to center on made-fors

Cable’s Lifetime channel is launching the first network whose format centers primarily around contemporary made-for-TV movies: the Lifetime Movie Network (LMN), skedded for a September 1998 launch.

The femme-targeted LMN, primed to capitalize on the expected channel boom from TV’s conversion to digital distribution over the next few years, will be a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week network comprising telefilms, miniseries and selected theatricals — all of them designed to appeal to the female demo.

Lifetime prexy and CEO Doug McCormick sees the spinoff film channel as a logical extension of the network’s “Television for Women” concept, a “slam dunk” that will be like nothing else currently available via cable or satellite.

McCormick also insisted that the new service will be “significantly different” from the nearly year-old Romance Classics, the American Movie Classics spinoff.

“For one thing, while we’ll deal in romance, we’ll also deal in women’s issues, family dramas, suspense and mystery,” McCormick said. “The word ‘classic’ would cause one to be somewhat nostalgic. We’re not going to be into that.

“Viewers of LMN will see films made in the last year or two, not 30 or 40 years ago.”

Buying TV-movie packages rather than competing for theatrical license fees also figures to make LMN a comparatively inexpensive prospect.

There had been some consideration to spinning a teen-themed Lifetime concept — a two-hour block dubbed “The Place” — into a separate Lifetime network for the adolescent female market.

But McCormick admitted Monday that the plan has been tabled for the moment, “until we have more equity in the name ‘The Place.’ ”

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