Studios Launch New Rival To Showtime, HBO

Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Lionsgate today announced a joint venture to create a premium television channel that will draw on their extensive libraries and on new feature-film and TV production.

The as-yet-unnamed venture, scheduled to launch in September 2009, will take advantage of the fact that the studios all will be contractually free of obligations to other networks or premium-TV distributors, according to Philippe P. Dauman, chairman of Paramount's parent company, Viacom Inc.

Dauman, in an interview today, called the opportunity "unique" because the output of other major studios is contractually tied up for years to come. The venture will include the work of five studios: Paramount and its Paramount Vantage affiliate, MGM and its United Artists affiliate and Lionsgate.

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