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Live From Washington: Verizon, the Channel

April 2, 2007 12:00 AM

Verizon, which is marketing its FiOS fiber optics broadband as an alternative to cable service, debuted its first original-content channel in the country on its Washington-area FiOS system March 30.

FiOS1, as the channel is being called, will include screen graphics of weather, traffic and headlines during the morning rush hour, then, keeping up to a third of the screen on weather and traffic, will add news stories from Gannett's WUSA-TV, original shows and sports programming during the day and evening. One program will include a local auction.

Verizon also is planning to carry Georgetown and George Mason sports teams and will carry some Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles games.

Michelle Webb, the former ABC producer who is now Verizon's product management and product development director, said the new channel is an attempt to answer viewers' demands for more local content. She said similar ad-supported channels are likely to launch in two more cities by year's end.

In the Washington area the new channel will face competition not only from local TV, but from Allbritton Communications' News Channel 8, an all-news local cable channel that is carried on Verizon's system.

Verizon says it had 207,000 customers on FiOS at the close of 2006, but has been moving quickly to expand the service's availability.