Trio Outfoxes Comcast in Philly

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Fledgling cable channels are accustomed to buying their way into people's homes, ponying up launch fees to cable operators.

But digital arts net Trio is trying a different tactic to break into Comcast Cable's Philadelphia market. The Universal Television-owned channel will turn to broadcast—at least from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, when it takes over Fox- owned WTXF-TV.

Trio, which is bullish on themed programming these days, will treat Philly viewers to two original specials, Brilliant, but Cancelled, a documentary on defunct TV shows, and The Perfect Pitch, in which producers tell all about selling their show ideas.

Often, said Trio head of marketing Jason Klarman, "You stage a marketing campaign, but people can't see you. This solves that problem." The effort is costing Trio less than $500,000, he added.

New nets trying to make noise sometimes buy local cable access time, but leasing broadcast airwaves is more unusual.

Trio is giving its broadcast debut broad marketing support in the Philadelphia DMA: plenty of outdoor ads (themed Hello Philly!) and local buys on national shows, like The Late Show With David Letterman, and hometown programming like Good Day Philadelphia.

Klarman said Comcast is well aware of the campaign, but there's no word yet if it's influencing carriage discussions. Trio plans similar campaigns in more cities in 2003.

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