Ethnic Nets Eye Niches in Niches


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

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

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

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

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

James said MBC now has distribution deals with Comcast
Corp. (for 1.5 million subscribers as of Nov. 1) and AT&T Broadband & Internet
Services, 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 vice
president Robert Wehling if P&G was interested in adapting its African-American family
magazine -- which P&G is currently testing in Detroit -- for TV, Wehling called that
"a darn good idea."

International Channel Networks vice president of ad sales
Paul Singman said 70 percent of its programming targets Asians, with the rest geared
toward Russians and other Europeans, as well as immigrants from the Middle East. A recent
move to dayparting its programming, a la American networks, should make shows easier to
find, he indicated.

Galavisión general manager Lucia Ballas-Traynor, the M3
conference 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 unique
programming not found on their parent networks.

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

–Jim Forkan