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MGM Channel to discontinue service

MUMBAI: MGM Channel is being
discontinued. A notice to this effect
has been issued by direct-to-home
(DTH) service provider Tata Sky to
inform its subscribers.
“MGM will cease to be on our DTH
platform from 15 August 2015 as the
channel is being discontinued by the
broadcaster,” the notice read.
An email sent to MGM for comment
went unanswered. The MGM Channel
features movies from the Metro-
Goldwyn-Mayer library.
In 2000, MGM, in partnership with
Zee, launched Zee MGM. The channel
launched in the same year as HBO and
the strategic tie-up ran for four
years. A key point for the channel
came in 2002 when Ajay Trigunayat
took over as its head. The channel was
rebranded with a new logo. One of the
aims was to put forth the message
that the channel was about the lion’s
share of Hollywood. It was also about
showing good movies at all times.
The channel was able to achieve this
promise because of the library depth
that ran into thousands of movies.
Being a lot about its own library, the
challenge of making sure that output
deals were present was not there. The
channel aim was not just about big
titles; it was to focus on quality all
the time.
Under Trigunayat, one thing done was
the creation of thematic slots. For
instance, primetime on Monday
focused on romance. The channel did
its best to serve various genres.
However, it did not bring exclusive
rights for all MGM titles to the
channel. So new James Bond movies
aired on Star Movies instead of Zee
MGM. The tie-up with MGM expired in
the early part of 2004.
In 2005, after a bidding war that
included Time Warner (the current
parent of Turner Broadcasting) and
General Electric, MGM studio was
globally acquired by a partnership
consisting of Sony, Comcast, Texas
Pacific Group (now TPG Capital, L.P.),
Providence Equity Partners, and other
investors. The deal was said to be
worth $5 billion. Sony had a 20 per
cent stake.
When Pix launched in 2006, it focused
on library films. MGM was one of the
studios that they got films from.
In 2008, after being in India through
partnerships first with Zee and then
with Sony, MGM decided to come on its
own and launch a channel called MGM.
It did a partnership with Star Den for
distribution. The focus was on
subscription rather than on ad sales.
Like Zee MGM, the new channel did
thematic blocks. It focused on
different genres. It carefully
selected titles from its library. Once
again, the focus was not on the big
blockbusters, but on films that have
left a mark. The tagline for the
marketing campaign was ‘The Lion
Roars Across India’.
Two years later in 2010, Sahara made
a $2 billion bid to acquire MGM
Studios. However, MGM rejected the
takeover offer as creditors were
looking for alternative plans to bail
out the struggling Hollywood studio.
On 20 December 2010, MGM executives
announced that the studio had
emerged from bankruptcy. The new
MGM focused on co-investing in films
made by another party, which handle
all distribution and marketing for the
projects. MGM handles international
television distribution rights for the
new films as well as its library of
existing titles and retains its in-
house production service.
Following AMC Networks’ acquisition
of Chellomedia, it was announced on 4
August 2014 that MGM Channel would
be rebranded as AMC in late 2014. On 5
November 2014, MGM became a
Hungarian Version of AMC. On 1
January 2015, the Asian version of
AMC was launched, replacing MGM.
“AMC will begin launching locally
versioned channel feeds on key cable
and satellite platforms across Europe,
Latin America, Asia, Africa and the
Middle East later this year,” the
company said in 2014. It was a way for
AMC to extend its brand globally.
AMC Networks’ content like ‘Halt and
Catch Fire’ were among the first
shows that aired. For the record, AMC
is known for shows like ‘The Walking
Dead’, ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’.
That same year there were notices
about DTH platforms like Airtel Digital
TV and Videocon d2h removing the
MGM Channel. That led to speculation
that either the channel was being
rebranded or that MGM was shutting
down. That same year MGM shut down
its HD channel in the UK on Sky.

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