Cable Operators

Verizon Can Hear Court TV Now

1/03/2005 10:41 AM Eastern

Court TV will be in view when Verizon Communications launches its fiber-optic video services later this year.

Through a multiyear deal negotiated by the National Cable Television Cooperative on behalf of the regional Bell operating company, the investigation channel will be part of Verizon's programming lineup.

Court TV senior vice president of affiliate relations John Moran said the deal will give the network "some additional distribution and get our programming out to new subscribers."

Terry Denson -- the former Insight Communications Co. Inc. VP of programming the RBOC hired last fall to drive its video efforts -- was involved in finalizing the negations, according to Court TV executives.

Just how many and how soon were questions that Moran left to Verizon. A spokeswoman confirmed the deal with Court TV but did not specify rollout plans. Executives at the NCTC -- which has a relationship with Verizon from cable systems it formerly owned in Florida and California, which it sold to overbuilder Knology Inc. -- didn't return calls.

Moran said Court TV is also talking with SBC Communications -- which is also targeting a fiber-based video play -- about carriage before indicating that nothing was imminent with that RBOC.

Moran would not discuss deal terms other than to say that Verizon is "working off our standard rate card. We offer volume discounts, but [Verizon is] nowhere near any of those breakpoints."

He added that the "distribution is up to them, and we certainly hope they go a lot further than they did last time" -- a reference to the failed mid-1990s initiative by Bell Atlantic Corp., Nynex Corp. (now both part of Verizon) and SBC Communications Inc. to offer video as TeleTV.

Moran said the deal -- for now -- was strictly for Court TV's video programming and didn't include video-on-demand or other applications.

When asked about other potential offerings, Moran said Court TV has made some presentations, but Verizon had not "come back to us with anything in depth," at this stage. "We're talking to them about some other opportunities," he noted, pointing to Web site The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com) and "a wealth of content from our trial coverage and daytime schedule."

Verizon inked a wide-ranging deal with Discovery Networks U.S. last month covering its portfolio of services including Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Travel Channel and Animal Planet, as well as Discovery HD Theater and VOD content.

March