C-SPAN 2 Seeks Weekend Boost with Book TV


Looking to shore up its stature with cable operators,
C-SPAN 2 is set to premiere its "network within a network," Book TV, this coming

"Book TV on C-SPAN 2," focusing on nonfiction and
the publishing industry, will launch Sept. 12, airing continuously each weekend from
Saturday at 8 a.m. to Monday at 8 a.m.

C-SPAN 2, which now reaches 50.9 million homes, lost
carriage or was reduced to part-time status in several million homes because of must-carry
six years ago.

Somewhat stymied by that setback, the network is also
suffering from a Rodney Dangerfield kind of complex: It just isn't getting enough
respect from some MSOs, according to Brian Lamb, C-SPAN's chairman and CEO.

"We need to make C-SPAN 2 a more valuable product to
cable operators," Lamb said. "This is part of our effort to do that. And we have
had a lot of success with [book-related programming]."

Right now, "some operators treat C-SPAN 2 as something
that they can mess with," he added. "They carry it part-time. It's not as
well-respected as C-SPAN."

The network is trying to remedy that problem by using Book
TV to help C-SPAN 2 to distinguish itself from C-SPAN. In the past, operators complained
that the services were too similar on weekends.

The new weekend marathons of book-related programming are
really an expansion of Booknotes, C-SPAN's successful decade-old
author-interview show. In May 1996, C-SPAN 2 rolled out About Books -- five
additional hours of book television each weekend.

Book TV will feature nonfiction authors discussing and
signing their works at bookstores across the country; show tours of unique bookstores and
libraries; look at the business of books and bookselling; and present live call-in forums.

The scheduling of Book TV doesn't interfere with
C-SPAN 2's normal mandate, which is to air gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S.
Senate, since that body rarely meets on weekends, Lamb said.

Some of the regularly scheduled segments include The
Business of Books
, Children's Books, History on Book TV, Biography
on Book TV
and Encore Booknotes.

"If it works, we'll continue it," Lamb said,
noting that Book TV doesn't cost a lot to produce, and that C-SPAN 2 is commercial

"We don't have to deliver numbers to
advertisers," Lamb said. "We can experiment."

Today, as a result of must-carry, roughly 5 million
combined C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2 subscribers who had been getting one of the networks
full-time either lost all access to them or were dropped to partial carriage. C-SPAN
reaches 73 million homes.

C-SPAN 2 will also be launching a Web site, www.booktv.org,
that will provide a schedule of Book TV programs and an archive of its segments.

A proposed full-time service that calls itself BookNet has
failed to make any inroads with operators so far.