More Gay Networks Eye Launch Dates

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Several TV-industry veterans, including an alumnus of Saban Entertainment,
plan to launch an ad-supported cable network for gays that would compete with
the service Viacom Inc. has planned.

ALT1-TV is slated to debut in the first quarter of next year, and the digital
entertainment network will target gay and lesbian viewers, as well as attempting
to lure a crossover audience, officials said.

It is being created by MDC Entertainment, co-founders of which include
Michael Arlington, a former member of the program-development team at Saban.

The channel's principals also include veteran producer David Mckillop, who
has done projects for Discovery Channel and The History Channel, and Mitchell
Galin, who was executive producer for Sci Fi Channel's Dune: The
Miniseries
.

Meanwhile, there are mini-pay services targeting gay audiences in the
works.

Last week, Showtime Networks Inc. and MTV Networks confirmed that they are
developing such a channel, and Palm Springs, Calif.-based Triangle Television
Network aims to launch one late next month, priced at $9.95 per month.

For its part, ALT1-TV is closing its first round of financing -- an
undisclosed sum that the network will use to make pilots, according to
consultant Victor Siegel, who is working with the channel.

The service's pitch to advertisers is that it will be a cost-effective way to
reach gays on television, Siegel said.

While the programming will be aimed at a gay audience, it also seeks to
attract a crossover audience. Therefore, the content won't be so sexually
provocative that it will offend a broader viewership, Siegel said.

'It's a tough challenge,' he added.

For example, he said, Showtime's edgy Queer as Folk would be too racy
for ALT1-TV.

In looking to launch as an ad-supported vehicle, ALT1-TV is also exploring a
different business model than the sector's other players.

'We're certainly targeting the same audience, but our business plans are
quite different,' Siegel said.

Both Triangle and the Viacom gay network will take sponsorships, although
their prime revenue stream will be monthly subscriptions.

Triangle executives said they are close to nailing down a deal with AT&T
Broadband. And later this month, the company is meeting with Time Warner Cable,
Cox Communications Inc., Adelphia Communications Corp., Comcast Corp. and
Charter Communications Inc., according to Triangle executive vice president Dick
Weiner.

Triangle's program roster will include movies that have run at gay film
festivals, series and original shows such as Good Morning Gay
America
.

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