A&E Biography spinoff wins Malone’s blessing

Channel to launch on HITS in November

NEW YORK — A&E’s on-again/off-again, long-in-development Biography Channel has finally got the go-ahead, landing a berth on John Malone’s HITS (Headend in the Sky) beginning next month.

A spokesman for A&E declined comment, but one source said the network has begun sounding out the major cable operators to take the Biography Channel for a digital tier along with another new A&E network, the History Channel Intl.

One cable operator said the initial lineup of programming on the Biography Channel will consist of wall-to-wall reruns of the huge library of “Biography” episodes A&E has amassed. But as the new channel begins to sign up more cable systems, it plans to create fresh programming.

Cable operators appear to be of two minds about a Biography Channel. One school of thought, voiced by Mike Egan, a partner in Renaissance Media, is that “we may be nearing the saturation point” for reality programming dealing with personalities in the news.

But other cable operators think the A&E Biography brand has become so potent that at least one 24-hour channel could carve out a successful niche, at least on a digital platform that would cost cable subscribers an extra monthly fee to pick up.