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The Retro Television Network (RTV, previously branded RTN) is a system of television stations primarily airing classic television programming from the 1950s through the 1980s, such as Leave it to Beaver, Kojak, McHale's Navy, Adam-12, Emergency!, and The Rockford Files, as well as the horror film showcase Midnight Monster Hop. The network is specifically designed to air on a local broadcast station's digital subchannel, allowing stations an easy way to expand their programming options. Schedules for some markets are customized to avoid conflicts for series with an existing station with a contract to air a program in that market. RTV currently airs (or will air in the future) on 88 stations across the country.


Retro Television Network logo used from July 2005-June 2009

RTV is similar in concept to the original idea behind cable network TV Land, a spinoff of Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite lineup; when Nick at Nite began concentrating on reruns of more recent programming, TV Land concentrated on shows from the 50s to early 80s. (TV Land has since changed its own orientation to a mix of reruns from recent decades as well as its own original programming.) RTV also includes airings of classic commercials to accommodate the shorter ad breaks of older programs (something TV Land also did in its early days).

From Summer 2008 to the beginning of 2009, RTV concentrated on "Classic Hits All Day - Fresh Talk All Night", with the all-rerun lineup augmented by original talk programming during Monday-thru-Friday late-nights, most notably "Unreliable Sources." In January 2009, when owner Luken Communications severed its relationship with former owner Equity Media Holdings, the talk concept was dropped in favor reruns in RTN's late-night slot. Non-rerun programming on the network includes overnight infomercials, the WFLA-TVmarker/Media General-produced talk show Daytime weekday mornings, and E/I-oriented children's programming on Saturday mornings.

In 2009, the network changed on-air branding from RTN to RTV in a nod to the digital switchover that occurred in June of that year. Also in 2009 Luken announced that he would be starting the sports related Tuff TV, kids related PBJ and an RTV2.

RTN's on-air slogan, in use in November 2009, is "We know retro."


See also: List of programs broadcast by Retro Television Network

The network has package deals with various production companies, as listed in above link. The network had a large content deal with CBS Paramount until its expiration in July 2008, which caused a major schedule shake-up in most markets. RTV also has available a large number of titles from NBC Universal Television Distribution. As RTV has customized schedules for each affiliate, not all shows are usually carried in every market; however, the network has moved towards more coherent schedules as of late.

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. That option expired December 24, 2008.

Equity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 8, 2008.

Following its acquisition by Luken, the network continued to be operated out of Little Rock, Arkansasmarker, using Equity's C.A.S.H. (Central Automated Satellite Hub) system, which used Intelsatmarker satellite Galaxy 18marker 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.

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. As a result, Luken restored a national RTN feed from its headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker, with individual customized feeds to non-Equity-owned affiliates to follow on a piecemeal basis. Equity-owned-or-operated stations lost RTN affiliation immediately, though Luken vowed to find new affiliates for RTN in those areas.

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 former domain name.

On some individual RTN digital subchannel affiliates, such as WKRG-TVmarker and WJBF-TVmarker, 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 & many stations' DTV guides, though the information was restored after a delay of several weeks.


See also: List of Retro Television Network affiliates

As of June 2009, RTV has current or future carriage agreements with 88 stations in the United States. 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. 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.

As of January 5, 2009, Equity-owned or operated stations appear to be broadcasting either a local mix of films or replaced RTV with Weigel Broadcasting/MGM's This TV network; the Retro Jams format has also re-appeared in some markets.

See also

  • MeTV — similar programming service, airing on Weigel Broadcasting stations in Chicago and Milwaukee
  • This TV — digital network from Weigel and MGM that airs older shows and movies


  1. Green Bay Press-Gazette - New TV channel for all possible by Oct. 1
  2. "Digi-Channels Enjoy Brave New Post-DTV World", from Broadcasting & Cable, June 22, 2009
  3. "RTN Rebrands as RTV", from 6/17/2009
  4. [1]
  5. RTV shows
  6. Arkansas Business: "Creditor Files to Liquidate Equity Media, Claims Company Cannot Meet Payroll Obligations", 12/10/2008.
  7. Equity Media Receives Up to $37.5 Million in Asset Sales Transaction With Group Led by Largest Shareholder Henry Luken III
  8. What’s Wrong with MyTV?
  9. No ‘Good Times’ For RTN After Distribution Spat: Retro channel back on after yesterday’s 3½ hour blackout, Michael Malone, B&C, Jan 5, 2009
  10. TV Newsday: "Financial Dispute Disrupts RTN Diginet", 1/5/2009.
  11. Retro Television Network Off The Air, WKRG 5, January 06, 2009
  12. RTN Channel 6.2 Update, Mark Rosen, WJBF News Director, January 8, 2009
  13. Classic reruns dropped from local station, Buffalo News, Jan 7, 2009

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