Monday, September 30, 2013

The Fox Movie Channel is still not quite dead

Not that many of you are paying close attention, but the Fox Movie Channel schedule page isn't being updated. I noticed this several weeks back, since I was looking at the printable monthly schedule, which abruptly ended at 6:00 AM today, after an airing of Do Not Disturb. Trying to find out what came on after that was at first difficult, since unlike TCM, most channels' schedules don't get released more than about two weeks in advance, so that the various listings services can update their websites, publications, or box guides, depending upon which medium you're talking about.

The higher-ups who program Fox's TV strategy in general have been planning a reform of the channel structure for quite some time, of which the FMC/FXM channel is a part. If you watch any cable besides TCM you'll probably have seen advertisements for the new Fos Sports 1 sports channel which debuted in mid-August, along with a Fox Sports 2. The old Fox Soccer Channel had a lot of its soccer programming shunted to the two new sports channels, in order to make room for a new channel, FXX, the second X standing for "extreme", which seems to be nothing more than trying to appeal to one of the demographics advertisers supposedly like, since the programming doesn't seem particularly extreme. As I've mentioned before, most recently just two months ago, it's not uncommon for one media conglomerate to buy a small channel, just to turn it into a zombie channel, holding the place on various cable and satellite systems until the conglomerate can launch the real channel they have in mind for that slot on your set-top box. Fox already has several such channels, so switching Fox Soccer over to FXX was a simple enough matter for the folks at Fox.

So it's unsurprising that when I saw no new movies listed on the FMC schedule, I concluded that this must be the ultimate end of the channel, which would be entirely subsumed by FXM. That has supposed to be the ultimate point of it all. As for having just one movie this morning, that would be because it's common for most channels to begin their broadcast day at 6:00 AM, which I think goes back to the days when over-the-air channels went off the air in the wee hours of the night: since they went off after midnight, it was more convenient for the broadcast logs to start whenever the station started broadcasting in the morning, and run until signoff, even if that wasn't entirely on one calendar day. I was mildly surprised when I more recently looked at online listings services as well as my set-top box guide, to see that following Do Not Disturb this morning would be more old films. I'd have guessed that if FXM were going to be a 24-hour thing, that they'd have mostly newer films.

So I turned the channel on this morning, to another airing of Murder Inc., which is just what the box guide said was supposed to be on. And an hour in, where even TCM runs a brief logo bug, there was the bug for the Fox Movie Channel, not FXM. There also weren't any commercials in the 10 minutes or so I had the channel on, although I have yet to watch between movies to see if there are going to be any real commercials.

When FXM launched on January 1, 2012, I wrote that I'd give it six months until it was a 24-hour thing, and the Fox Movie Channel was completely gone. I have to admit I'm very surprised that FMC has continued to run a full 21 months in its half-day format. Still, I have a feeling the ultimate end is going to be much sooner, rather than later. Even though TCM has been able to get more films from Fox, and even though FMC's lineup was heavily repetitive, it's still going to be a shame when the channel finally does go.

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