Washington -- Oxygen Media founder Geraldine Laybourne said
last week that she expects to reach deals adding at least 5 million cable subscribers to
the company's Oxygen network, meeting the target set in its key affiliation agreement
with Tele-Communications Inc.
"We will have no problem getting that," Laybourne
said, following a speech at the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club here.
TCI promised Oxygen carriage in 7 million homes by the end
of 2001, but only if the network was able to sign up 5 million subscribers with other
Laybourne said she expects to announce the new deals in the
next few weeks -- well in advance of the network's Jan. 1 cable launch date.
"We are very close," she said. Although she added
that the deals would include "modest launch support," she did not reveal any
financial commitments. She also indicated that satellite distribution might be in the mix.
Laybourne said she plans to use programming segments of
Oxygen to introduce its target audience -- children and women of all ages -- to cable
She is hopeful that partner Oprah Winfrey can do for
digital set-tops what she did for the book industry by guiding women into the world of
convergence. After the speech, Laybourne said Oxygen aims to use creative programming to
explain to women how they can use the new technology to help them manage their lives.
"You can't just build it, and they will
come," she said.
Oxygen has bought several online sites from America Online
Inc. as part of its strategy, and it is also building new ones that it hopes to integrate
into its video programming.
During her remarks, Laybourne outlined Oxygen's
schedule, which will include five original program blocks.
The three-hour morning block, an information exchange, will
be called "The Hive," while "Working Lunch" will be about personal
finance and jobs. The after-school block aimed at teens has been tagged
"Tribes," while "Oxygen Comedy" will incorporate comedy talk shows,
game shows and interstitial gags. The fifth block is "Boudoir Cinema," which
will be a campy-movie block with commentary from celebrities.
Laybourne said she couldn't be more optimistic about
Oxygen's chances in the marketplace. The one threat that's lurking, she added,
is digital must-carry rules that the Federal Communications Commission might impose on
"If that ever came to being, I think that we could
kiss our future goodbye," she said.
FCC commissioner Susan Ness and Cable Services Bureau chief
Deborah Lathen sat at Laybourne's table for the luncheon and speech.