Retro Television Network

Retro Television Network
Retro Television Network
Type Broadcast television network
Branding RTV
Country United States
Availability National (but not available in all markets)
Slogan "The Best in Classic Television!"
Owner Luken Communications, LLC
Launch date July 2005
Former names RTN (2005-2009)
Official website

The Retro Television Network (RTV) is a system of television stations that airs classic television shows as well as more recently produced programs. Owned by Luken Communications, LLC, the network airs mainly on stations' digital subchannels or low power television stations.



Retro Television Network logo used from July 2005 to June 2009

The network launched in 2005 under the RTN branding (which would be changed to RTV in June 2009 in a nod to the digital (DTV) switchover that occurred in June of that year).[1] At its launch, RTV used a concept similar to the original idea behind cable network TV Land, a network launched as a spin-off from Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite in the mid 1990s. Just like TV Land, RTV would air a round-the-clock schedule of shows dating from the 1950s to the early 1990s along with rarely seen older programming.

RTV, at times, has deviated from the all-classic format, including its current inclusion of infomercials in the overnight hours (it's one of the few digital subchannel networks to do so) and a daily hour of E/I-oriented children's programming. RTV, during its ownership by Equity Media Holdings, featured some original talk programming (notably Unreliable Sources) during Monday-thru-Friday late-nights "Classic Hits All Day & Fresh Talk All Night") from Summer 2008 to the beginning of 2009, when new owner Luken Communications took over operations and replaced late-night talk with reruns.[2] The network has also featured originally-produced horror film showcases like like Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In[3] and Off Beat Cinema, and previously aired the daily talk show Daytime, a show produced at WFLA-TV, until WFLA owner Media General severed its ties with RTV in 2011.

By June 2011, when RTV's programming relationship with NBC Universal Television Distribution ended, the network would adjust its schedule to feature programming from other distributors (e.g. I Spy and Starsky & Hutch) as well as more recently-produced programming (Cold Squad, Da Vinci's Inquest) as well as reality and documentary programming (including reruns of Cold Case Files).[4] RTV also features a Saturday morning block of vintage cartoon programming.[5]

RTV is one of four digital networks offered by Luken Communications, the others being family-oriented My Family TV, male-oriented Tuff TV, and kids-oriented PBJ. Luken also planed to launch an offshoot of RTV, branded as RTV2, originally in July 2011, although it has yet to materialize.[6]

Acquisition by Luken Communications

In June 2008, after many financial troubles facing its parent company, RTN was sold by Equity Media Holdings to Henry Luken, the company's largest shareholder for $18.5 million in cash. The network is now owned by Luken Communications, LLC. Equity had the option to re-purchase the network within six months of the close for $27.75 million, an option that expired December 24, 2008 without fulfillment (Equity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 8, 2008, a few weeks before the option's deadline).[7]

Following its acquisition by Luken, the network continued to be operated out of Little Rock, Arkansas, using Equity's C.A.S.H. (Central Automated Satellite Hub) system,[8] which used Intelsat satellite Galaxy 18 to distribute RTN nationally. As of December 2008, Equity Media owed more than half a million dollars to Intelsat and had been threatened with disconnection of satellite feeds.[7]

Contractual problems with Equity

On January 4, 2009, a contract conflict between Equity Media Holdings Corporation and RTN interrupted the programming on many RTN affiliates.[9] As a result, Luken restored a national RTN feed from its headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with individual customized feeds to non-Equity-owned affiliates to follow on a piecemeal basis. Equity-owned-or-operated stations lost RTN affiliation immediately,[10] though Luken vowed to find new affiliates for RTN in those areas.[11]

Luken Communications, alleging that Equity had left millions of dollars in unpaid debts to RTN's programming suppliers, moved RTN's programming to a new uplink facility using an SES Americom-owned satellite. The network's website also moved from "" to "" after Equity refused to release the former domain name.[11]

On some individual RTN digital subchannel affiliates, such as WKRG-TV[12] and WJBF-TV,[13] the signal had taken a few days to be restored. Daily RTN programming data disappeared from Tribune Media Services' listings database, including its Zap2it service and many stations' DTV guides, though the information was restored after a delay of several weeks.


RTV's current programming roster draws from various distributors including Classic Media, Genesis International, Peter Rodgers Organization, and Sony Pictures Television, as well as Stay Creepy Productions (which distributes Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In) and Granite Broadcasting (Off Beat Cinema). The network previously had large content deals with CBS Paramount until July 2008 and NBC Universal Television Distribution until June 2011.[4]

Until 2011, RTV offered a customized schedule for each affiliate that wished to use one. For example, an episode of Daniel Boone may have run at 10 p.m. (CT) on the national feed, but a station like Madison, Wisconsin's WKOW might have chosen to have Suspense Theatre air on that time slot instead; additionally, an episode of Battlestar Galactica that may have aired nationally at 8 p.m. on Saturday night would have aired at 9 p.m. that evening on on Green Bay's WBAY-TV. By June 2011, when RTV's relationship with NBC Universal ended, the network would move towards one set national schedule, although affiliates may pre-empt some programming.[14]


As of November 2011, RTV has current or future carriage agreements with approximately 74 stations in the United States, down from 95 in June of that year. While the network's primary strategy is carriage on digital subchannels of local broadcast stations, it was also seen pre-digital transition on a number of analog stations owned by Equity Media Holdings, the network's former owner. Some of the Equity stations mixed RTV programming with first-run and recent off-network syndicated programming or also carry another network such as MyNetworkTV or ION Television. RTV is also seen on low-power digital stations, and on free-to-air C-band satellite via SES-2 in DVB-S2 format.[15][16]

Following the break-up of Equity and RTV on January 4, 2009, all of Equity's stations carrying RTV removed the network, pledging to replace it with other high-quality programming. The number of RTV affiliates has steadily declined since that time, more precipitously during 2011 when some station groups (including Media General, whose Daytime was carried on RTV), dropped the network for alternative options, including similarly-formatted networks Me-TV and Antenna TV, with RTV not immediately finding new carriage in many of those lost markets.

From August 2010 until it dropped RTV for WeatherNation in October 2011,[17] WHDT made the claim of being RTV's first affiliate to broadcast network programming in high definition. However, only Daytime and modern-day Tuff TV programming aired on the weekends over that station was carried in the format, as none of the network's rerun library was remastered from the shows' master film copies for HD presentation.

See also


External links

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