Raycom Media revealed today (April 25) that it would launch the Tube Music Network, a 24-hour digital TV channel, as a multicast channel in 29 markets where the company owns TV stations.

Raycom Media revealed today (April 25) that it would launch the Tube Music Network, a 24-hour digital TV channel, as a multicast channel in 29 markets where the company owns TV stations.

The Tube aims to target TV broadcasters looking to recoup their HDTV investment. Said the Tube's president Les Garland, "The difficult challenge [when launching a new network] is distribution." Also the co-founder of MTV and VH1, he added that when he tried to get distribution for the Box in the 1990s, it took "seven years to get to 25 million homes."

The Tube is Raycom's second multicast initiative. The group's 13 NBC stations have also agreed to carry NBC Universal's Weather Plus on its 13 NBC stations.

"We spend between $50 and $60 million to transition to HDTV. We may have to do another $10 million before it's over. That's a lot of money for a middle-market, privately-held TV company," said Paul McTear, CEO of Raycom, which has been testing the Tube for the past three weeks on Fox affiliate WFLX-TV.

The Tube intends to appeal to a broader demographic than MTV and other music channels by programming music, artists and songs regardless of genre or decade. Commercials are limited to six units an hour (five for national and one for the local TV station). About 14 videos will air per hour with about 700 videos in rotation at any one time.

"I love MTV," said Garland, "but it's become a bit institutionalized and has a lot of non-music shows. A lot of music channels profess to be music channels, but they aren't."

The Tube will also have a web component, what Garland describes as a "see it, hear it, buy it" site.

Stations can also air some of the programming as part of the regular lineup. A sample hour of the network is planned next week on WFLX-TV.

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