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Western Show Notes

Dec 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Former USA Networks Chairman and CEO Kay Koplovitz has been named chairman of the board of directors of Reality Central, a channel devoted to reality programming that plans a mid-2004 launch. Ms. Koplovitz told TelevisionWeek she was drawn to the company because reality television is “a strong genre.” “I do think this genre has a devoted audience, with young demographics,” she said. “It gives you an opportunity to rise above the noise of all the other cable networks out there.” Ms. Koplovitz compared readying Reality Central to launching Sci Fi-both channels have a name that brings to mind a specific type of content, but there’s a wider range of potential content than most people realize. “People had different ideas of what science fiction was, but it didn’t matter,” she said. “Just like people have different ideas what reality programming is, and it doesn’t matter. It offers a wide range of programming, but we don’t have to define the category for them.”
HD is Here … Again
“HDTV: This time we really mean it,” announced Cox Communications VP and General Manager Steve Rizley at an HDTV panel. Though the comment was meant as a joke, it accurately reflected the feeling among cable insiders that the HDTV revolution has been announced at the conference on an annual basis for several years now. This year, however, about 8 million households will have an HD-ready TV by the end of this month and, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, about 60 million homes are currently capable of receiving an HD signal. Panelists stressed that they are working with retailers to get the word out that HD equals cable. “We think this is a big opportunity, if only we can execute it really, really well,” said Andy Addis, senior VP of marketing for Comcast, which plans to offer HD to 90 percent of its subscribers by the end of next year.
Boarish Behavior
For a claim that’s supposedly untrue, cable executives were awfully defensive about the recent EchoStar ad campaign depicting cable companies as insatiably greedy pigs. “[EchoStar CEO] Charlie Ergen keeps it simple, he keeps it stupid and he keeps it attention-getting,” said E! Networks President and CEO Mindy Herman during a panel called “Getting Down to Business.” National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Robert Sachs claimed that Mr. Ergen “suffers from broadband envy.” “Stop feeding consumers garbage when it comes to your anti-cable advertising,” Mr. Sachs said during his introduction of a panel of multiple system operator executives. “You can compete vigorously without wallowing in the mud.” Who’s calling whom a pig now?
Starz Launches Kids Channel
Starz Encore Group announced the launch of a movie channel aimed at kids 2 to 11. Called Starz! Kids, the channel will show G- and PG-rated movies commercial-free as part of its existing premium channel package. “We are privileged to enjoy an unparalleled inventory of films geared for young viewers, particularly with our recent addition of exclusive first-run animated Disney movies,” said Robert Leighton, president of Starz Encore.
Well Put
When moderator Larry King asked a panel of multiple system operator executives how they are dealing with the rising cost of carrying ESPN, Bill Schleyer, chairman and CEO of Adelphia, quipped: “We have uniquely solved the sports programming problem by declaring bankruptcy.”