By Sharon Donovan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/20/2004 8:00:00 PM
President, regional programming
There's a lot more to Josh Sapan than people see. The Rainbow Media chief has his established networks, but he's also deeply involved with the nascent VOOM, the HD-heavy DBS service that is still looking for people to watch it.
Sapan's finesse and risk-taking persona in the cable industry might seem at odds with the sensibility of a poet, but lately he has been published in several poetry journals. An odd pairing? He considers the two interdependent: "It's all fundamentally about ideas, which occur organically."
The extraterrestrial territory Sapan is mining in his HD pursuits is not exactly without other pioneers, but his venture is a few steps ahead of the gang, he says. "Sure, there are others in the satellite business and still others fooling with HD," he says, "but we've taken advantage of both technologies to launch the first service for the growing number with HD sets being purchased by consumers."
Besides overseeing a flock of networks, including Independent Film Channel and American Movie Classics, Sapan spent the nine months since VOOM's unveiling working in tandem with the Rainbow DBS team to develop VOOM HD Originals. So far, the suite of 21 channels is the largest collection of HD programming. It includes Ultra HD, the first channel to cover food, fashion, style, and beauty; HD News, 24/7 coverage of national events; and WorldSport HD, international sports. Divine HD, a mix of movies and programming of interest to the diverse gay and lesbian audience, launches this month .Rainbow also offers MagRack, a sort of pay-per-view magazine concept that offers videos for hobbyists and others with special interests.
Iget excited developing these products to take advantage of the technological advances and create opportunities for brand experiences previously unavailable," says Sapan. "My greatest thrill is to work on the development of programming and editorial experiences."
His team includes Greg Moyer, president of regional programming and co-executive-in-charge of VOOM HD Originals, who joined Rainbow Media in 1999 from Discovery Communications, where he was chief creative officer; and Dan Ronayne, senior vice president of marketing and communications VOOM HD originals, whose career at Rainbow began at Prism/SportsChannel Philadelphia in 1987.
They share Sapan's vision, too: "Rainbow has had a history of innovation in the television business. Our thinking about television has been fundamentally as mass media, but now we have to develop the concept of serving ever more specific audiences," Sapan says. "While that may now be an accepted thought, it was not 15 years ago."
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