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Ovation Gets Carriage on DirecTV

More than tripling its distribution, the Weinstein-backed Ovation channel secured national carriage on DirecTV and is looking to launch in 2007 on the satellite service. The tiny channel, so far only available to 5.3 million subscribers, will now be offered to 16 million more as part of DirecTV's Total Choice Plus package.

The channel has been gearing up to relaunch thanks to new backing from Hubbard Broadcasting, which has invested $56.5 million in the long-struggling venture. Veteran broadcaster Stanley S. Hubbard and his son Stanley E. Hubbard II have a deal granting them slots for three channels on DirecTV and are hoping to use those rights as leverage to secure carriage.

The channel is backed by investment banker Lazard Freres, the Weinstein Co. and Tennis Channel Chairman Ken Solomon, who is acting chairman of Ovation.

Staffing up over the past few months, Ovation hired former Bravo/Trio executive Kris Slava to head its programming.

Ovation got a boost of support in August when an investor group including Hubbard Media and arts-focused film company Weinstein took control of the channel with plans to overhaul its programming and increase distribution.

Hubbard, a well-known broadcaster, owns movie cable network ReelzChannel. The Weinstein Co., which also produces Bravo’s Project Runway, is controlled by Miramax Films founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

The channel is also backed by a fund controlled by Lazard & Co., Perry Capital and Arcadia Investment Partners.

As of August, the channel planned to rebrand and program operas, ballets and artist biographies, as well as shows on more obscure facets of art, such as pottery and jewelry design.