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Chesapeake pulls plug on Shale.TV

Shale.TV, Chesapeake Energy’s ambitious plan for an online news channel devoted to the natural gas business, is the latest victim of the sharp drop in energy prices and economic uncertainty.

Chesapeake announced Monday “a decision to halt the development of Shale.TV” so that the company can “focus our time and resources on exploration and production activities.”

Just last week the company had said the effort, announced in July and already delayed from a planned September start, would go online by the end of October.

Shale.TV hired longtime local news anchor Tracy Rowlett and former ABC-TV news producer Olive Talley to direct the project. The company has never disclosed what it planned to spend on Shale.TV, which planned a studio in the company’s local headquarters office in Chesapeake Plaza, formerly the Pier 1 Imports building on the western edge of downtown Fort Worth.

Chesapeake last week said it was scaling back its leasing efforts in the Barnett Shale in response to lower natural gas prices, which have fallen more than 50 percent since their peak in early July.

The Oklahoma City-based company, along with many other gas producers, also previously announced cuts in its drilling budget.

On Friday, Chairman Aubrey McClendon was forced to sell most of his shares in the company to margin calls, which are lenders’ demands that he repay loans he took out to buy company stock. McClendon had purchased more than $200 million worth of Chesapeake stock this year.

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