Henry Luken Plans More Diginets

CHATTANOOGA, TENN.: The purveyor of Retro TV Network is planning to launch more diginets. Henry Luken, who bought RTV (formerly RTN) out of Equity Media’s bankruptcy, is looking to start three more networks targeted for multicast carriage, according to an interview in BusinessTN. One is a second version of RTV, which runs old sitcoms like “McHale’s Navy,” “Leave it to Beaver,” and “I Spy.” Another net, PBJ, would cater to children, and a third, Tuff TV, would carry sports programming.

Luken told BusinessTN that he believes he’ll be able to “pull budget-minded viewers away from paid content” with new over-the-air fare. “A year from now, you should have 25 to 30 different sets of content on the air in a market the size of Chattanooga,” he said. “There’s an awful lot of people who could watch 25 channels and be perfectly happy, instead of paying 60 bucks a month for basic cable.”

He said he hopes to launch as many as 10 networks from RTV’s facilities.

Luken’s entree into the broadcast business came with his association with Equity Media as a shareholder and board member, then CEO when the Little Rock, Ark., company reeled toward bankruptcy. Luken bought the Retro TV Network from Equity for $18.5 million in June, 2008. A subsequent conflict with Equity led to the network’s distribution being dropped from its central hub in Little Rock. BusinesTN said the rebranded RTV covered 80 percent of the U.S. by the June digital transition.

More on RTV, Luken and Equity:
Back from Basic,” at BusinessTN
April 17, 2009: “Equity Media Asset Auction Held”
The bidding for Equity Media’s broadcast assets ended yesterday, and most of the company’s 19 full-power and 85 low-power TV stations received winning bids. Bids ranged from around $50,000 up to $1.5 million.

June 26, 2008: “Equity Media Completes $18.5 Million Sale of RTN
Equity Media Holdings, (NASDAQ: EMDA) has completed the sale of its Retro TV network to a group created by the company’s largest shareholder and its former CEO. Luken Communications, led by Henry Luken III, purchased RTN for $18.5 million in cash.