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A&E’s Crime Net Rankles Court

10/31/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

A&E Television Networks announced plans last week to launch a new crime-themed network in Australia, drawing the ire of Court TV, which claimed A&E is capitalizing on its brand.

The name of the new channel, Crime & Investigation Network, is at the center of the debate. Last year, Court TV began marketing itself as Court TV: The Investigation Channel.

Court TV doesn’t have any international distribution, and A&E officials have said they have no immediate plans to launch Crime & Investigation Network stateside. But Court TV is still miffed about A&E’s international expansion with a network in the crime-programming genre.

'DISPLEASED’ NET

“While we recognize that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we are displeased that A&E would want to capitalize on our brand name, Court TV: The Investigation Channel, rather than demonstrating originality in creating a name of its own. We look forward to reconsidering its choice of a brand name or to seeing them in court … on Court TV,” Court TV said in a prepared statement last week.

Spokeswoman Carole Shander said she didn’t know whether Court TV executives have talked to their counterparts at A&E about the branding dispute.

News Corp.’s Foxtel cable and satellite platform will own and operate Crime & Investigation Network in Australia. It is scheduled to debut in January.

A&E will license the network brand and crime-themed programming from its library to Foxtel, such as Investigative Reports and Cold Case Files, and Foxtel will add local programming to the network, A&E spokeswoman Kerri Tarmey said.

Tarmey said A&E has “no immediate plans” to launch Crime & Investigation Network in the United States, adding that the company expects to announce additional international distribution deals for the network next year.

A&E has run crime-themed programming in the U.S. for several years. American Justice debuted in 1992, and Cold Case Files launched in 1998.

Other U.S. programmers have developed new networks internationally before rolling out the channels domestically, including National Geographic Channel and Hallmark Channel.

Crime & Investigation Network will replace Comcast Corp.’s TechTV on the Foxtel platform. TechTV merged with G4 in June, becoming G4techTV, but in Australia the channel is still called TechTV.

NET GOES UNDER

E! Networks senior vice president of international Kevin MacLellan, who oversees international distribution for Tech TV, said the company decided after the G4 merger in June to pull the plug on TechTV’s 24-hour channel in Australia.

“We allowed Foxtel to keep it on the air until the end of the year. They would not be able to keep it up past December, so they had to find a replacement for it,” MacLellan, who is based in Hong Kong, said in an e-mail exchange.

 

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