Court TV Emphasizes 'Investigation'

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To build greater awareness of such popular shows as Forensic Files, Court TV this week will unveil a new tagline that brands the network's prime-time, non-courtroom-based lineup.

The network will be dubbed Court TV — The Investigation Channel to help attract viewers who associate the channel with gavel-to-gavel coverage of trials, network CEO Henry Schleiff said.

Court TV will unveil the new tagline this week as part of a month-long, $5-million marketing and promotional push touting its forensic-based programming. That includes the annual "Forensics Week" prime-time programming stunt, which begins Aug. 25.

Forensics Week "has really helped us define what we're doing, so we think this is a great time to launch our new tagline," Court TV COO Art Bell said. "We'll be able to communicate [investigative programming] more effectively to people who don't know what we're doing and for people who remember us only as courtroom television."

Fueled by Forensic Files
fans,
Court TV has experienced a significant lift in ratings in the past year. The network averaged a 0.9 during the second quarter 2003, up 29% from a year ago.

While the prime-time investigative shows are picking up, Schleiff said the network won't downplay daytime courtroom coverage or change the network's name to emphasize the crime programs.

"Our mission continues to be to provide this window on the American system of justice, and I think it's part of what makes us unique to the cable operator, and I don't think we want to do anything to diminish that," Schleiff said.

"Unlike other networks that have changed their name and programming, we have slowly and prudently expanded our franchise to the point where … we really don't need to have a name that better represents this emphasis on investigative journalism."

What the network will do is create additional programming related to crime investigation.

The network will premiere its series of specials built around its thesmokinggun.com Website on Aug. 20 [see review], and will continue to develop new episodes for such investigative skeins as Body of Evidence
and iDetective.

Schleiff said Court TV would also expand development of original movies to as many as five from three in the near future.

He also said Court could eventually launch a scripted series, although not in the immediate future. "I think everything is up for consideration. But I think the last thing the public really wants is another source of scripted dramas. They get their fair share on broadcast and some cable networks."

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