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Stirring a Programming Melting Pot

3/10/2006 7:00 PM Eastern

It’s difficult enough to develop original programming targeted to a specific minority group, but such a task is magnified three-fold for multicultural network Colours TV. The network is attempting to target African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American viewers through a variety of multiethnic-tinged shows that it hopes will reach a broad range of 18-34 year-old minority viewers, according to network CEO Tracy Winchester.

While the network offers acquired shows that target each specific minority group, Winchester says its original fare — a small but growing portion of its overall lineup — tries to create a melting pot of characters, issues and storylines that appeal across all ethnicities.

“You’ll rarely see just all black, all Latino or all Asian in one show,” Winchester said. “We try to put everyone in the same show. That’s how we distinguish ourselves differently — we try to be pluralistic all the way through.”

Indeed, originally produced or exclusive music programs such as Real Hip Hop Network and Big City, and entertainment/celebrity talk shows like 8101 w/ Michele Wright, contribute to Winchester’s overall vision for the network. New original shows set to debut later this year on the network that Winchester hopes will further extend Colours’ appeal to minority audiences include Champagne Chef, an international cuisine show that showcases various delicacies from around the world, and Short Way In, a series which will premiere minority and urban-targeted independent short films.

In addition, Winchester said she’s talking to minority filmmakers about bringing their projects to the network. “There’s this pool of talent in Latin, Black and Asian Hollywood that’s hungry to get their product on the air and to work with a network that wants to work with them.” she said.

Winchester, who considers as competitors diversity-centered networks like African-American and Hispanic-targeted services TV One and SíTV, respectively — as well as gay and lesbian-targeted services like Logo and Here TV — said the network is ideal for operators looking to reach either a specific ethnic group or a broad range of minority viewers. The 12 million-subscriber network already has carriage deals with Echostar Communications Corp., Comcast Corp., Adephia Communications Corp. and Insight Communications Co.

“In some cases it’s a little difficult for [MSO executives], especially in terms of ad sales, because advertisers are so used to pushing ethnic markets as either Black, Hispanic or Asian,” Winchester said. “Then here we come fitting all three categories, so it’s a little different because they don’t know how to define us. But it’s not about the definition of the network but the programming.”

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