During a two-month period starting in February,
America's Health Network will add six new series to its schedule, including two hours
per day of health-news programming and a medical game show, officials said last week.
"Health news is a vision that we have always had for
the network," said Webster Golinkin, AHN's chairman and CEO. "We want AHN
to be a source for health news, so we're building a news organization."
Golinkin denied that AHN's planned program additions
were a reaction to Discovery Communications Inc.'s announcement last month that it is
pumping $350 million into its digital health network, Discovery Health Channel, for
original programming in order to convert it to an analog service.
"We've made significant additions to our
programming, beginning last June," Golinkin said. "This is part of a deliberate
On March 26 -- one day after AHN's third anniversary
-- the network will premiere Headline: Health, a live daily half-hour show covering
breaking health news around the world; and AHN Daily Journal, another daily
half-hour live show that will feature in-depth coverage of the day's leading health
story. That block will start at noon and be repeated at 4 p.m., Golinkin said.
AHN's other new series include: Integrative
Medicine: Body, Mind & Spirit, a weekly show on nontraditional medicine, debuting
Feb. 28 and hosted by Dr. Andrew Weil; The Sex Files, a nightly half-hour call-in
show addressing questions about intimate relationships, which premieres March 22; Anatomically
Correct, a biweekly health and medical game show described as a "medical Jeopardy,"
which joins AHN's lineup April 22; and Out of Control, a weekly half-hour show
on emotional and behavioral health issues, which goes on-air May 1.
Golinkin declined to comment on the cost of the six new
shows, but he said AHN has spent about $50 million on programming since its launch. With
the new additions, the health network will have added 10 new series since June, he added.
AHN began increasing its amount of health news last spring,
when it added a ticker. In the fourth quarter of last year, it debuted 60-second
Some of the new AHN shows -- including the medical game
show and the sex series -- are being created in response to viewer feedback, Golinkin
said. AHN gets 1,000 phone calls per day via its call-in Ask the Doctor shows, and
it uses those as an opportunity to query the public about what kind of programming they
want to see, he added.
"Consistently, people said they wanted to see a
medical game show," Golinkin said, adding that contestants will win money for their
favorite health charity.
He conceded that shows such as TheOprah Winfrey
Show and The Jerry Springer Show address the same kinds of behavioral-health
issues, such as substance abuse and depression, that AHN's Out of Control will
cover. But Golinkin said AHN's series will take a documentary approach, using case
studies to follow a topic.
AHN currently reaches about 9.2 million homes full-time,
including its carriage on DirecTV Inc. The service is carried on several digital
platforms, including Tele-Communications Inc.'s Headend in the Sky and Cox
Communications Inc.'s digital service. And AHN is talking to Time Warner Cable about
being added to its digital platform, AthenaTV.
Golinkin maintained that Discovery's ambitious plans
for its health network have validated the category.