Classic TV Channels
With hundreds of channels to choose from on cable and satellite, you would think it would be easy to find classic TV shows. Unfortunately, Nick at Nite, which used to air classic 60s shows now runs modern show reruns like Friends and George Lopez. Nick at Nite's spinoff channel, TV Land, started out as pure classic TV. Today it airs a smattering of classics (Andy Griffith, Bonanza, Leave It To Beaver etc) but much of the lineup is from the 90s and 2000s. Pretty disappointing for us classic TV fans.
Fortunately, broadcast TV has come to the rescue! With the switch from analog to digital, local broadcast stations suddenly had a lot of extra subchannel space to fill. At first, many stations would add a weather channel or some other filler. Along came Retro TV Network, a national classic TV programming service available to local broadcast stations.
The success of RTN, later renamed RTV, spawned a revolution. Today there are 3 more classic TV services available to broadcasters: Antenna TV, MeTV and ThisTV. The best part is these channels are all available over the air for FREE, although none of them are carried in every market. Let's take a look at each of these services:
This service started January 1, 2011 and is owned by Tribune Broadcasting. They air Antenna TV on all of their owned and operated stations, including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago. It's also offered to stations across the country.
Antenna TV airs a mix of movies and classic TV shows. The 1960s classics airing as of April 2012:
Weigel Broadcasting started Me-TV on their local station in Chicago back in 2005. It originally aired as a 3-hour programming block, but later expanded to 24 hours. The success led Weigel to add a similar service to their Milwaukee station. Then, in December 2010, Me-TV went national and became another programming choice for local broadcasters.
Me-TV airs classic TV shows around the clock. All the programs I've watched (on WJAC 6.2 Johnstown PA) look great, with a very crisp picture quality. You can tell Me-TV has a respect for these classic shows, presenting them with full closing credits. They also air a lot of black and white programming, which is refreshing indeed.
The 1960s classics airing on Me-TV as of April 2012:
This service started in July 2005 as Retro Television Network. RTN was the original classic TV programming service for broadcasters. After an ownership change, RTN was renamed RTV in 2009.
RTV's programming has changed considerably since its launch. There are still some vintage shows, but they now air a handful of newer shows as well. They also air paid programming overnight. The 1960s classics airing as of April 2012:
This TV started in November 2008 and is co-owned by MGM and Weigel Broadcasting. They air mostly movies, along with a handful of classic TV shows in early mornings.
The 1960s classics airing as of April 2012:
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