Looking to further advance its original programming agenda, Court TV this fall will bring the gavel down on several new specials and series.
In September, the network will debut a two-hour program marking the 30th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, one of several specials set for the network's new season. Also new to the schedule beginning Oct. 2 is Shot In The Dark, a series detailing the history of crime photography, said network chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff.
The Secret History of Rock and Roll, a miniseries that looks at the more seedy side of music, is on the programming docket for December. Gene Simmons of the veteran rock band Kiss will host.
Earlier in the fall, the network will premiere an interstitial campaign based on Kerry Kennedy Cuomo's human rights book Speak Truth to Power. Five international human-rights heroes profiled in the book will be highlighted in the network campaign, produced by Cuomo's sister, Rory Kennedy. Academy Award-winning actress Glenn Close will narrate the series, Schleiff said.
With the new shows, 60 percent of the network's fare will be original.
The increase in fresh fare coincides with Court TV's continued advances in distribution. The service is now in 60 million households, an increase of 18 million subscribers since last year's National Show.
"People are seeing more and more the demand for our programming," Schleiff said. "I think that cable operators have to understand that we're out there in partnership with a rate card that's attractive and we've put together a package that's a win-win for everyone."
The growing popularity of Court TV, which averaged a 0.6 during primetime in May, hasn't been lost on other programmers. The network will face cable competition from a soon-to-be-launched diginet, USA Networks Inc.'s Crime Channel.
But Schleiff said the number of crime- and legal-oriented programs on broadcast television are more worrisome than another competing cable service. With such series as Law and Order
and The Practice
— as well as the various broadcast magazine shows that often report on legal and judicial matters — there's already an abundance of programming in the marketplace to compete with Court TV, said Schleiff.
"I'm more concerned when Disney does a night of programming featuring crime and justice shows than with the launch of a new crime network," Schleiff said. "But imitation is the highest form of flattery in television and we pride ourselves as the leading brand in this field."