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In an about-face, ABC will continue to operate the Live Well digital multicast channel on its eight O&O stations although it no longer be offered to outside stations.

The ABC O&Os have also picked up the LAFF channel run by Atlanta-based Katz Broadcasting to fill another of its multicast channel slots. The comedy-themed channel programs a mix of vintage sitcoms and theatrical features.

ABC had previously said it would pull the plug on Live Well Network by the end of this month. The channel was launched in April 2009 as syndicated service aimed at capitalizing on the multicast real estate on ABC and other stations. Live Well, which features programming largely produced out of ABC’s stations, will no longer be offered to non-ABC O&Os as a syndicated multicast service. As of last June, Live Well had about 50 non-O&O affiliates.

“LAFF will be an excellent addition to our subchannel lineup,” said Rebecca Campbell, president of ABC Owned Television Station Group. “We are also committed to keeping Live Well Network up and running in our own markets, so that we can continue to provide unique local programming and pursue corporate synergy opportunities.”

Katz Broadcasting also operates the Grit and Escape themed multicast network. Indie station groups like Katz and Wiegel Broadcasting have had more traction with syndication multicast networks — offering them to stations in exchange for a portion of the advertising time — than the larger station groups.

Katz said LAFF has also been picked up by 13 Scripps-owned stations including Detroit, Phoenix, Denver and Cleveland.