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FXM inks deals, redubs itself

NEW YORK — FXM: Movies From Fox, the struggling Fox-owned cable network, has landed some important deals with cable operators, prompting a new name — Fox Movie Channel — and a general makeover.

Although an FXM spokesman said any stories about the network’s plans are premature, sources say the network will generate a subscriber boost of at least 4 million homes over the next 10 months, driving its circulation from 8 million to 12 million cable and satellite households.

Through deals that allowed cable operators to continue carrying Fox-owned TV stations, the operators agreed to take FXM and Fox’s Health Network as a quid pro quo. (The industry refers to these contracts as retransmission-consent deals.) Three major cable operators — AT&T, Time Warner and Cox — will start rolling out FXM to some of their subscribers.

FXM also moved up from a limited-clearance tier to a more advantageous one on DirecTV, the direct-broadcast-satellite distributor, making the network available to 65% of DirecTV’s subscriber base, a total of about 4.6 million satellite households. The National Cable TV Co-op has also struck a deal with FXM, which could add millions of new subscribers over the next few years.

The name change to Fox Movie Channel will take effect on March 1, and the network will start scheduling more recent movies from the Fox library in primetime. The net will still draw on titles from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, but pictures like “Aliens,” “Waiting to Exhale” and “Oscar & Lucinda” are set for primetime in the next year or two.

Between the movies, the network will produce interstitial programming, including a newsmagazine show that will focus on trends in moviemaking and behind-the-scenes stories about 20th Century Fox movies about to go into the theaters.

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