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Liberatore Speeds Off

Charlotte, N.C. — Jim Liberatore, citing philosophical differences with Fox Cable Networks Group about program balance for Speed Channel, will soon exit as the service's president. Currently in his fourth year navigating Speed, Liberatore's contract expires at the end of June.

Liberatore said that Speed's schedule is largely shaped by four programming silos: racing series; shoulder programming for NASCAR; shows on customizing autos and motorcycles; and auto enthusiasm/lifestyle fare. He declined to identify the strategies he wanted Speed to pursue:

“It wasn't a big battle. The questions involved were where to invest more in one kind of programming versus the other. I can see the issues and that both sides of the argument make sense, but it's best that I move on.”

Liberatore relaunched the service from Speedvision in 2002; helped push its subscriber base from 39 million to more than 63 million; and significantly ramped up demographic growth among males. He also introduced NASCAR TV, a channel-within-a-channel concept that has led to stronger ratings for its Craftsman Truck series and shows like NASCAR Nation than when they appeared on other more widely distributed outlets.

Scripps Resets Plans For HGTV, Food in HD

Knoxville, Tenn. — Rather than offering distributors one service that would aggregate content, Scripps Networks plans to bow HGTV in High Definition in January, while Food Network in High Definition is slated to roll out in next year's second quarter, according to company officials.

The enhanced HGTV service will not only feature some 400 hours of HD programming but an additional 100 hours of HD fare from DIY. The HD Food service will feature an additional 400 hours of original content. Fine Living programming will be incorporated into both of the new HD networks.

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