For a while, producer and TV executive Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, a producer and actress, have been talking about creating a new digital venture aimed at audiences seeking faith-friendly and family-suitable fare.
An announcement on Wednesday, Nov. 16, revealed the name and nature of the offering, launching next month.
As reported in Variety and at Deadline.com, digital subchannel Light TV represents a partnership between MGM — where Burnett is president of MGM Television and Digital, and Downey runs the production company LightWorkers Media — and several Fox owned-and-operated stations and affiliates around the country.
It will feature repackaged content from the MGM library — including movies like “Lilies of the Field” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and such TV shows as “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?,” “Highway to Heaven” and “Heartland” — along with developing original programming.
It’s not a digital streaming channel like Netflix or Hulu. In fact, you wouldn’t even need a computer or cable access to watch it — provided you have a TV that can be hooked up to a digital antenna.
When over-the-air TV channels — such as your local network affiliates — were forced to move from analog to digital broadcasting a few years ago, extra room opened up in their broadcast signal. This allowed for the creation of digital subchannels. Some of them are carried on local cable systems (usually tucked away in the 500s and above), but they can also be accessed via a digital antenna — a new version of the old rabbit ears or roof antennas everyone used to have back in the analog days.
Some subchannels are direct offshoots of the main channel, while others are independent entities renting the bandwith. That’s the case with Light TV, whose lineup of Fox channels includes New York (WNYW); Los Angeles (KTTV); Chicago (WFLD),; Philadelphia (WTXF); Dallas (KDFW); Houston (KRIV); San Francisco (KTVU); Washington, D.C. (WTTG); Atlanta (WAGA); Orlando (WOFL); Phoenix (KSAZ); Minneapolis (KMSP); and Charlotte, North Carolina (WJZY).
While not just targeting the section of the public with access to streaming services, Light TV will be available across America, to both high-tech and low-tech people.
If you don’t have a digital antenna and would like one, click here for a pretty comprehensive guide on buying one, and here for a tool to help you decide what kind you need. I’ve also read recommendations to take photos of the connectors on the back of your HDTV to the store, to make matching up easier. Or, if your TV is a tube-style one, call ahead to the electronics store just to make sure it’s possible, or if you need additional equipment.
LightTV will run seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Said Downey in a statement:
“This is the last unclaimed vertical. As we have already seen from the success of The Bible series and our 20 million social followers this audience is looking for inspiring and uplifting programming that they can watch in a trusted and safe environment on any platform.”
There may be more news on the way. Said Downey in the email I received that announced the venture:
LIGHT TV will kick off next month followed by a launch across all platforms with LIGHTWORKERS in the Spring
As you all know we are committed to bring quality family friendly content that uplifts and inspires. We believe it is better to LIGHT a candle than to curse the darkness.
So, perhaps a larger digital footprint (streaming, too?) is in the future. We shall see. In the meantime, Burnett and Downey are staking claim on what still is the largest platform for TV distribution — good old over-the-air broadcasting.
Image: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/LightWorkers Media