U Net Gets Dubya - Broadcasting & Cable

U Net Gets Dubya

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The U Network, a proposed college-targeted TV network slated to launch in September, has secured access to the Bush campaign for a weekly show profiling the role of young people in the re-election effort, according to its CEO.

Student reporters and crews will cover grassroots campaign stops with an emphasis on college appearances. The network will use campaign production facilities and have access to campaigners "from the President on down," according to network founder and CEO Shane Walker.

Sounds like it could be a weekly plug for the President. Not so, says Walker, though when asked whether he approached the Kerry campaign for similar access, he said that "MTV is doing a thorough job of covering Kerry, giving him a ton of coverage. We want to look at the other side."

Walker says The W Show will not focus on issues, but on the young people in the campaign and their opportunities for important roles in the process. "It will be more of a documentary style," he says. "Not 'do you believe in pro life or pro choice, but about how the campaign works.' "

Walker came up with the idea for the net while taking classes at the media-curriculum powerhouse Ball State in Muncie, Ind., deciding that millions of students needed an outlet for the creative work they are doing, he says.

The network, a mix of student-produced reality, drama and news, will be delivered via a mix of satellite, fiber and overnighted DVDs to the TV operations of "hundreds" of participating schools and a projected audience of 13 million.

The network's target of 18-24-year-old voters could be a key block, and one that has been courted heavily by Democratic supporters, including Bruce Springsteen and other rockers planning an elect-Kerry tour.

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