Hubbards, Weinsteins Back Ovation

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Investors including Hubbard Media Group and artsy film champion The Weinstein Co. have taken control of long-sagging arts channel Ovation and plan to overhaul the network.

The 10-year-old network has a minuscule 5.3 million subscribers and has been searching for new backing on and off for five years. New backers believe they plan to overhaul Ovation’s programming, scrap the name and increase distribution.

"You’ve got a wide-open category that nobody is programming to at all," says Ken Solomon, Ovation’s new chairman and CEO of The Tennis Channel. (The sports network will continue to be Solomon’s primary gig.)

Despite its slim carriage and lack of advertising, Ovation has been marginally profitable by collecting license fees from operators, primarily Time Warner Cable, and keeping programming costs ultra-low.

Solomon plans to move away from video of music performances and focus on a broader selection of arts and concentrate more on artists in disparate cities, giving the channel a local feel. .

The investor group that includes the Hubbard family – well-known broadcaster and owners of movie cable network ReelzChannel -- The Weinstein Co., controlled by the founders of Miramax Films, a fund controlled by Lazard & Co., (whose investment bankers put the deal together) Perry Capital; and Arcadia Investment Partners.

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