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Turner Classic Movies to stop broadcasting in UK

A localized version of Turner Classic Movies will close in the United Kingdom as parent company Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) evaluates the long-term viability of its linear television business there.

The decision to close the channel, called TCM Movies, comes about a week after WBD implemented a round of layoffs at TCM in the United States, a move that saw the channel’s general manager Pola Changnon exit along with 100 other staffers.

The closure of TCM Movies is unrelated to the cost-cutting moves at the domestic channel, according to a person familiar with the matter. Instead, it comes as WBD streamlines its linear business in Europe as more TV viewers shift from broadcast and pay television channels toward streaming services like WBD-owned Max.

A number of films previously aired on TCM Movies that WBD continues to license for distribution in the United Kingdom will air on Quest, a free broadcast channel that was operated by Discovery Networks prior to its merger with WarnerMedia last year.

TCM Movies started as a programming block on the British version of Cartoon Network in the early 1990s, which was first operated using the “TNT Classic Movies” brand. In 1999, TNT Classic Movies rebranded to Turner Classic Movies in an effort to better streamline Turner’s domestic and international channels under common brands.

TNT Classic Movies time-shared with Cartoon Network, with the programming block replacing animated programming from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time. Cartoon Network expanded its programming to 9 p.m. local time, reducing the number of films aired by TNT Classic Movies by around five per week.

Turner Classic Movies replaced TNT Classic Movies in 1999 before becoming its own channel in the mid-2000s. The channel rebranded to TCM Movies in 2019.

The last day TCM Movies is slated to broadcast is Thursday, July 6, at which point the channel slot will be vacated on cable and satellite systems across the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).