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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.