WSB-TV HD channel picks up Atlanta-based LAFF comedy channel

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday, March 13, 2015

Atlanta-based Katz Broadcasting is launching a new free broadcasting comedy channel called LAFF on April 15.

Cox Media Group's WSB-TV will broadcast LAFF on its third HD channel, which is available to anybody with an HD antenna.

Among the initial offerings are successful sitcoms mostly from the 1980s and 1990s such as "Night Court," "The Drew Carey Show," "Empty Nest," "Grace Under Fire" and "Ellen." It will also feature comedic films targeting ages 18 to 49. The early movie lineup includes about 250 comedies such as "High Fidelity," "Clerks," "This is Spinal Tap," "Jerry Maguire" and "Sleepless in Seattle."

Its closest equivalent on the cable side appears to be TBS. Former Turner executive Jonathan Katz founded and runs Katz Broadcasting, which is packed with Turner alums.

His company also runs two other free broadcast channels: Grit, which targets guys with classic action films and Westerns  and Escape, which features movie thrillers and reality crime series for women. They both debuted last August. Escape can be seen locally on WUVG 34.4. Grit is not yet available.

These networks were created to take advantage of expanded HD channel space and offer alternatives for people unwilling or unable to pay for a cable or satellite subscription. There are several such channels in major markets.

WSB-TV's second HD channel (2.2), for instance, offers ME-TV (classics such as "Star Trek," "The Twilight Zone," "The Love Boat"). WXIA-TV on Channel 11 in January debuted the new Atlanta-based Justice Network on its third HD channel featuring crime reality series like "Alaska State Troopers and "L.A. Forensics." WATL-TV (36) second channel is Atlanta-based Bounce TV with black programming ("Roc,' "Parent 'Hood," "A Different World") and Antenna TV on its third channel features old shows from the 1960s through the 1990s such as "Three's Company," "Sanford & Son," "All in the Family," "Bewitched" and "Doogie Howser."

A list of free HD channels available in Atlanta here.

Katz has secured stations in 47 percent of the country for LAFF. It's also trying to secure slots on cable and satellite networks.

WSB-TV is part of Cox Media Group, which also operates The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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