Ethnic Nets Eye Niches in Niches


New York -- The one hard-sell part of the CabletelevisionAdvertising Bureau's Multicultural Marketing & Media conference here Sept. 29featured executives from eight ethnic cable networks during a "programmingshowcase" luncheon.

Many of the programmers are targeting demographic nicheswithin their specific ethnic niches.

Black Entertainment Television executive vice presidentLouis Carr described his network as "still music-based," but expanding intooriginal movies, sports and talk "to give the viewers a lot of what they want and alittle of what they need."

The changes are "going to make some people happy andsome people not so happy," he added.

At MBC Network, which is aiming at the African-Americanfamily audience, CEO Alvin James said his fledgling network is especially targetingviewers aged 25 to 54 who, he claimed, are not that attracted to BET's heavilyyouth-skewed fare.

James said MBC now has distribution deals with ComcastCorp. (for 1.5 million subscribers as of Nov. 1) and AT&T Broadband & InternetServices, and other deals were pending with Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications Inc.MBC also has 3 million satellite subscribers, he added.

When James asked Procter & Gamble Co. senior vicepresident Robert Wehling if P&G was interested in adapting its African-American familymagazine -- which P&G is currently testing in Detroit -- for TV, Wehling called that"a darn good idea."

International Channel Networks vice president of ad salesPaul Singman said 70 percent of its programming targets Asians, with the rest gearedtoward Russians and other Europeans, as well as immigrants from the Middle East. A recentmove to dayparting its programming, a la American networks, should make shows easier tofind, he indicated.

Galavisión general manager Lucia Ballas-Traynor, the M3conference chair, said her network is targeting Hispanic men with soccer and other sports;kids, who are "traditionally underserved by Hispanic broadcast;" and"generation N."

Also pursuing Hispanics, executives from CNN en Español,Discovery en Español and Fox Sports World Español stressed that they offer some uniqueprogramming not found on their parent networks.

When panel moderator Jerry Dominus, the CAB's vicepresident of network sales and marketing, asked about Courtroom Television Network'spresence on the panel, Court TV vice president of ad sales Gig Barton noted that someshows -- including off-network drama series Homicide: Life on the Street --bolstered ratings among black viewers.

–Jim Forkan