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Youth Net Gets Part-Time L.A. Launch

Young adults in Los Angeles will get their own local programming service in October when Local Television Network (LTN), a new part-time broadcast service, launches on an independent TV station.

LTN will debut Oct. 3 with four hours of lifestyle programming to the 18-34 demo. 

The service will piggyback on an existing TV station. LTN has a long-term deal to air every night from 8 p.m. to midnight on KVMD, a full-power, must-carry independent station that reaches 3.7 million homes over-the-air, on DBS systems Dish Network and DirecTV, and Adelphia and Charter cable systems

LTN founder Justin Mahy, a New Zealand native and former investment banker whose clients included The Walt Disney Co., hit on the idea when he moved to the U.S.. Unlike New Zealand and Europe, he says, TV stations in this country offer local fare beyond sports and news. Young viewers, he says, are particularly disenfranchised locally.

Buying a station was not an option in Los Angeles, where a full-power station would run more than $200 million. Instead, the service is opting for a time buy. At launch, LTN’s shows will reach about three-quarters of the market. KVMD, which carries sports, some news and infomercials, isn’t yet carried on Time Warner, Cox and most Comcast systems.

All of the non-scripted programming will be produced in-house. LTN has hired 120 staffers, many of them former MTV, E! and Fox Sports producers, to craft shows like Rough Cut LA, a daily show on happenings in Hollywood, and Night Guide, about L.A.’s hottest restaurants and clubs. LTN will start with a rotation of nine original shows.

Mahy would not comment on start-up costs, but said LTN’s expenses are “substantially less” than fledgling cable networks, many of which attempt to build a business with about $75 million. The effort is backed by private investors and hedge funds.

The service has already signed up several national advertisers, including Suzuki and the Gray Group, which buys ad time for more than 90 record labels.

In success, Mahy says the service will expand into the top 10 TV markets and he already has his eye on New York. But LTN will be different, he says. “We Won’t export L.A. content to the rest of the country, New York will be about NY, staffed by New Yorkers.”