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MBC Signs Time Warner Affiliation Deal

The Major Broadcasting Cable Network Wednesday announced a corporate affiliation deal with Time Warner Cable for both analog and digital carriage rights.

The MSO-wide agreement allows individual systems to add the African-American-targeted family-programming network, although none of Time Warner's 12.6 million cable subscribers are scheduled to receive the channel.

Time Warner will encourage all of its urban systems to launch MBC, which will pay the MSO a $1 launch fee, said MBC Network founder and senior managing partner Alvin D. James. The network hopes to be available to as many as 4 million to 5 million subscribers within the next 30 days, he added.

Time Warner executives confirmed the deal but would not comment on where and when the service would launch.

The deal is a major breakthrough for the network, which now has nearly 5 million cable and satellite subscribers. MBC has agreements with AT&T Broadband and Comcast Corp., and expects to close a deal with Cox Communications Inc. as early as this week.

"I think this is a tremendous achievement, considering that the other upstart services haven't signed a Time Warner deal yet," James said.

Once the network hits the 20 million subscriber plateau, James said, the network will be able to ramp up its production of original, family-oriented programming. MBC expects that programming to differentiate the service from its competitors.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.