Back to Basic Cable: CBS Buys Half of TV Guide Network

Will Continue Channel's Focus on Entertainment

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CBS Corp. has acquired the cable channel TVGN along with and plans to operate both with co-owner Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The channel's lineup is currently heavy on syndicated series including 'Who's the Boss?'
The channel's lineup is currently heavy on syndicated series including 'Who's the Boss?'

CBS, whose eponymous flagship network is TV's most-watched, acquired the stakes in TVGN, formerly called the TV Guide Network, and from a unit of JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to a statement today. Terms weren't announced. A person familiar with the matter said last week CBS would pay more than $100 million.

CBS Corp. was formed in 2006, when Viacom split into two companies in an effort to let the cable side, which kept the Viacom name, grow without the drag of the more mature and slower-growing CBS. Now the broadcast side is getting back into basic cable.

The owners plan to announce a new programming and branding strategy later, but the channel will continue its focus on entertainment, according to the statement. The channel is available in more than 80 million homes, the companies said, and will benefit from CBS's "programming, distribution and marketing assets."

The revamped channel sounds like it could pose more competition for networks including E!, part of NBC Universal. Its lineup currently includes shows such as "Celebrity Style Story," which tracks how stars' style has changed, but also goes heavy on syndicated repeats of shows including "Designing Women," "Who's the Boss?" and "Dharma & Greg."

"This is a strategic way for CBS to use its content brands and gain access to a highly distributed basic cable network that has a lot of upside," CBS Corp. President-CEO Leslie Moonves said in the statement.

The deal does not include TV Guide magazine, which is owned separately.

~ Bloomberg News and Ad Age staff ~

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