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Discovery Bringing Back FitTV

Discovery Networks U.S., partnering with fitness impresario Jake Steinfeld, plans to relaunch The Health Network Jan. 1, returning the channel to its old name -- FitTV -- and its former format.

Discovery plans to take the network back to its roots as a destination for exercise and fitness programming.

This marks the latest chapter in the convoluted history of the service, which now reaches more than 31.3 million homes.

Discovery bought THN for $255 million in cash and equity from News Corp.’s Fox Cable Networks Group in September 2001.

Discovery added it to its stable, which also includes Discovery Health Channel, a network focused on medical issues.

When Billy Campbell joined Discovery as president more than one year ago, he nixed the notion of merging the programmer’s two health networks.

As part of THN’s relaunch, Carole Tomko, most recently vice president of development and executive producer for Animal Planet, is moving over to become FitTV’s senior VP and general manager, Campbell said.

FitTV will adopt a wheel format, most likely with a workout at the top and bottom of every hour, according to Steinfeld. But the wheel will also include information on health, nutrition and lifestyle, he added.

Campbell said he, Steinfeld and Tomko will be working on the relaunch and new programming for FitTV.

Asked why Discovery is going back to the old FitTV name, Campbell said, "FitTV just really works. FitTV says exactly what it is."

THN has carriage commitments that will take it to 50 million subscribers in the next few years, according to Bill Goodwyn, Discovery’s executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing.

Discovery Health has 46.4 million homes, with commitments taking it to 60 million.