It was announced today that Viacom and Paramount have teamed with MGM and Lionsgate to create a new cable channel to compete with HBO and Showtime (which is owned by CBS). The channel will be mainly showing new movies, and it is not yet clear whether this will be a basic cable or a premium pay channel, but the initial press release says “the new venture will have access to motion picture titles spanning the vast libraries of the five studios”. And they plan to push its video-on-demand capabilities.
I’ve posted open letters like this before (see here and here). It doesn’t do much good, but it makes me a whole lot feel better.
The announcement of your new cable TV venture has me very excited. I especially like that you are going to use the “vast libraries” of the partner companies to create this new venue for programming. My only concern is that you might overlook the thousands of classic animation titles in your massive holdings.
Viacom/Paramount has rights to the Terrytoons library, hundreds of cartoons which include such rarely seen cartoon characters like Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Deputy Dawg and many others. Paramount also owns classic cartoon shorts of the 1960s. Lionsgate has licensed from you (and does nothing with) the pre-1950 Paramount cartoons which include Little Lulu, George Pal’s Academy Award winning Puppetoons, and the library of Betty Boop cartoons, amongst much else. Together, you can make these classics available for the first time in decades.
Additionally, MGM brings the DePatie-Freleng cartoons to the table. This library includes Oscar winning Pink Panther shorts, and numerous other cartoons featuring The Ant And the Aardvark, The Inspector and the Tijuana Toads.
And guess what? Your home video divisions have only released a fraction of the material you own. Making them available now on cable would provide you with unique, exclusive, entertaining fillers that people of all ages will enjoy. I know you aren’t starting a children’s channel, nor competing with Cartoon Network, but these classic animated shorts are a lot of fun, and deserve to be seen.
So unearth your old cartoons. Make them available as interstitials between programming or for video-on-demand purchase. Believe it or not, people really want to see them.
Best of luck,