Los Angeles -- The Documentary Channel, which will air the
edgy works of independent documentary filmmakers, is planning to launch as a digital-cable
network in mid-1999, officials said last week.
The network has retained Communications Equity Associates
Inc. to raise the bulk of the $30 million that it needs to start up and operate during its
first few years, said entertainment lawyer John Forbess, the network's chairman and
The new digital channel will run documentaries that have
not been seen on, and that are not the usual fare of, networks such as Discovery Channel,
with its nature-oriented programming.
"We are not looking to compete with Discovery or
A&E [Network]," Forbess said. "We will be, for documentaries, like Sundance
Channel is to HBO [Home Box Office] for movies."
The Documentary Channel also plans to provide interactive
programming, designed for the next generation of TV viewers and the Internet, from its
inception. It will permit viewers to watch and interact with programs by seamlessly
integrating standard TV shows with Web-based content.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Thomas Neff is
president and chief operating officer of the proposed network. He and Forbess have
retained E! Entertainment Television founder Larry Namer, president of Comspan
Communications Inc., as a consultant.
Forbess pointed out that many independent documentaries
that have won Academy Awards have never aired on TV, and they could be content for The