New Reality Net Eyes 2003 Launch


There’s a new player on the U.S. reality-network scene.

Sporting such fare as Rescue 911 and America’s Most Wanted,
Reality TV has inked a carriage contract with EchoStar Communications Corp. and
is expected to make its stateside premiere before year’s end on the
direct-broadcast satellite provider’s "America’s Top 150" package.

Chris Wronski, chairman and president of Zone Vision Enterprises, parent of
Reality TV -- which has been airing internationally since December 1999 -- and
three other international channels, told Multichannel News in an
interview in New York Monday that the network hopes to make its Dish Network
debut by Dec. 1.

"There are still some technical tests, but that’s when we’d like to launch,"
he said, noting that Reality TV’s pact runs for five years and calls for
"limited free periods." The deal then calls for license fees, which Wronski
would not specify. He hopes to announce a deal with a major cable operator by

Should Reality TV meet its launch date, it would presumably beat Reality
Central to the punch.

That fledgling network -- led by former E! Entertainment Television cofounder
Larry Namer and Blake Mycoskie, an outdoor-advertising executive who also
competed on CBS’ TheAmazing Race in spring 2002 -- was hoping to
launch next January, with programming gleaned from reality competition

In making its coming-out announcement this past April, Reality Central said
its game plan called for an amalgam of news and information shows, genre imports
and enhanced encore editions of shows like Survivor and Fear
. Neither executive could be reached by press time.

Zone Vision -- which also reps a number of U.S. programmers abroad, including
Discovery Communications Inc., Turner Broadcasting System Inc., MTV Networks,
Hallmark Entertainment and Bloomberg Television -- plans to announce U.S.-based
affiliate- and ad-sales teams, as well as a general manager for Reality TV, in
the upcoming weeks.

The network -- which launched in Europe almost four years ago and currently
counts 35 million subscribers in 125 territories, including the United Kingdom
-- has 1,800 hours of reality library programming. Wronski said Reality TV would
probably deploy about 600 of them coming out of the gate in the United

He added that executives are also beginning to negotiate with U.S. production
companies to produce original shows, which would likely begin airing on the
network next spring. Wronski said that down the road, original U.S.-based
productions could account for up to 10% of Reality TV’s programming roster.

Given international library fare like RPA, a show chronicling
activities in the biggest hospital in Australia, Wronski said about 50% of
Reality TV’s programming would be fresh to the United States at