Gay channel would likely be mini-pay - Broadcasting & Cable

Gay channel would likely be mini-pay

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A gay-oriented channel being planned by Viacom Inc. siblings MTV Networks and
Showtime Networks Inc. would probably be a mini-pay channel slated for digital
tiers, SNI executive vice president of corporate strategy and communications
Mark Greenberg said.

The network would be a blend of entertainment and information programming,
some of it with gay and lesbian themes and some simply conventional programming
that already tends to attract gay audiences.

'We see a wide range of programming opportunities,' Greenberg said.

Despite structuring the channel as a pay net, the network would likely carry
some sort of advertising.

Greenberg said research indicated that 6.5 percent of TV households have at
least one gay resident.

He added that plans are not finalized and that no launch date has been
set.

MTVN and SNI had been studying ventures separately.

Showtime has openly chased gay men with series such as Tales of the City
and Queer as Folk, although it has not heavily targeted lesbians.

MTV: Music Television has frequently produced news programs on gay
issues.

A gay network could be controversial.

Speaking on Fox News Channel Thursday, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said, 'Saying
gays should have their own channel ... is like saying everybody who misbehaves
in this culture should have their own channel.'

He added, 'Why do they need a particular channel when so much of primetime
features stars who are gay?'

Cable operators said they hadn't gotten a pitch from SNI and MTVN, but it
could be a tough sell in some markets.

'I wouldn't worry so much about political backlash as customer backlash, even
though it's a premium service,' said an executive with one MSO with mostly rural
systems. 'Any lower-cost premium that would appeal to the masses would be a good
business model, but this is targeted marketing,' the MSO executive added. 'I'm
not sure if we have the market. If I had a large city, I would say
yes.'

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