ReelzChannel pulling up stakes

Will move ops from Los Angeles, Minneapolis

NEW YORK -- Movie-focused digital cable ReelzChannel is pulling the bulk of its operations out of Los Angeles and Minneapolis and moving to Albuquerque, N.M.

It is uncertain how many of the 2-year-old channel's roughly 200 full- and part-time employees will make the move, though most if not all will get the opportunity to apply for about 100 jobs at the new facility. An affiliate-relations unit will remain in Minneapolis for now.

Three top executives -- president and COO Gary Thorne, executive vp and GM Terry O'Reilly and executive vp finance and administration Bernie Weiss -- already have said they won't move. Other executives have committed, including chairman and CEO Stan Hubbard, who will oversee all aspects of the operation.

ReelzChannel, like Ovation TV, is owned by Minneapolis-based Hubbard Broadcasting. Ovation is not affected. The move is scheduled to be completed early this year.

ReelzChannel was lured by New Mexico's aggressive incentive programs aimed at the film and TV industry from Gov. Bill Richardson. Richardson and Hubbard announced the move at a joint news conference Wednesday in Albuquerque.

ReelzChannel hopes to save as much as $20 million a year with the move and the incentives.

"New Mexico is the ideal home for the channel devoted to everything about movies given the state's bustling movie growth, its highly skilled and creative talent pool and the opportunities to streamline operations," Hubbard said.

The programming, production and promotion office that was in Los Angeles will be downsized to an entertainment-news bureau and ad sales office there, while the remainder will be merged into one facility in New Mexico along with the headquarters that had been in Minneapolis. Advertising offices in New York and Chicago are not affected.

Hubbard has not settled on a facility; it already owns a TV station in New Mexico.

ReelzChannel began operation in 2006 and is carried through cable systems as well as DirecTV and Dish Network to about 43 million U.S. households.
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