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Las Vegas-Centric LVES-TV Eyes December Debut

An entertainment and television veteran is looking to launch a linear TV network centered on Las Vegas.

Jon Astor-White, whose career includes ties to Earth, Wind & Fire and stints as developer and producer of the People’s Choice Awards and NAACP’s Image Awards, has established production company Las Vegas Entertainment & Sports Television Inc., and is eyeing a mid-December debut for LVES-TV. The minority-owned network plans to provide a weekend mix of live and same-day entertainment and sports event programming from Sin City, complemented by weekday fare spanning a variety of genres. 

Astor-White said the minority-owned network is being funded by his own money and private investor capital, and LVES-TV will look to kick things off with programming showcasing the Las Vegas “Hall of Fame Weekend” induction ceremonies from Dec. 13-15.

While he had been contemplating a Vegas-centered video play for several years, Astor-White decided to push ahead following the Department of Justice and FCC’s requirement that Comcast launch minority-owned channels as a condition of the agencies' approval of the cable operator's purchase of NBCUniversal.

In addition to Comcast, Astor-White said he has had discussions with the nation’s other top distributors, DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable and is confident LVES-TV will have linear carriage coming out of the gate. Time Warner Cable officials declined comment.

Astor-White said his group has a lease-to-purchase agreement for a local station serving Las Vegas and is finalizing a deal with Intelsat to transmit LVES-TV’s video signal. Launch plans also call for the streaming of the Vegas Hall of Fame activities on the website, www.lasvegasentsportstelevisioninc.com.

During the week, Astor-White said LVES-TV plans a schedule comprising an entertainment magazine trained not only on the Vegas scene, but activities around the world; game shows (Vegas Superstars will be styled after Hollywood Squares; casino gaming shows;  Jazz On The Rocks, a weekly musical skein, featuring known and  unknown jazz artists; Ghetto Warrior, a boxing competition reality show with up and coming fighters; and Las Vegas Showcase, a weekly musical-variety TV entry, spotlighting  marquee performers and newcomers.

Currently, Las Vegas Entertainment & Sports Television is negotiating with two major hotel-casinos for one to become the home for LVES-TV’s studio programming.

On weekends, LVES-TV plans to present original, live and/or same day tape-delay coverage of concerts, boxing and mixed martial arts matches and variety specials from around town, according to Astor-White.

As to the Hall of Fame Weekend, Astor-White said the ceremonies will focus on folks and acts that have made/left their marks on Las Vegas. Legendary Las Vegas entertainers like Wayne Newton, Charo and Celine Dion will be celebrated on Dec. 13, while athletes like Muhammad Ali, and Vegas natives Andre Agassi and NASCAR’s Kyle and Kurt Busch brothers, will be honored the following night. Astor-White called Vegas Star Awards on Dec. 15, the town’s version of the Tonys.

Emmy-winner Arthur Forrest (Leeza, Montel, Donny & Marie, Tournament of Roses Parade) will serve as director of the Hall of Fame Weekend coverage, with each TV show scheduled to run for a minimum of three hours. Boxing analyst Al Bernstein will host Saturday’s sports awards, while comedian/musician Pete Barbutti will be involved with the induction segments.