Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. will roll out its new package
of regional-local MSG Metro channels Wednesday (Aug. 5) in the New York DMA, to 1 million
subscribers, all belonging to its parent, Cablevision Systems Corp.
During the next six weeks, Cablevision will continue
launching the three regional channels in stages, week by week, until it reaches all of its
systems in the tristate area covering New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, representing
about 2.5 million homes, said Laurie Giddins, a Rainbow senior vice president and the
executive in charge of the MSG Metro channels.
Rainbow is still in discussions with other MSOs serving the
DMA about them carrying the MSG Metro channels, and it hopes to have deals with some of
them by the end of the year, Giddins said. But none of them will be on board for this
About 75 percent of Cablevision's systems will offer
the MSG Metro channels in the preferred fashion -- with sequential slots on channels 16,
17 and 18 -- Giddins added.
The three channels are meant to be the electronic
equivalent of a Sunday newspaper. They will be delivered by fiber and, therefore, they
will be exclusive to cable.
The three channels are MSG Metro Guide, a
"where-to-go, what-to-do," entertainment-guide channel; MSG Metro Learning
Center, which offers live and interactive educational programming; and MSG Metro Traffic
& Weather, a 24-hour local traffic, transit and weather channel.
MSG Metro Guide will actually have 27 different feeds, in
order to present "hyperlocalized" programming to viewers.
The look of the guide borrows heavily from the World Wide
Web, incorporating bold and colorful graphics. The upper two-thirds of the screen, in the
right-hand corner, will be full-motion video, with the remainder containing graphics
including information such as the local temperature and time.
"This is a hybrid of the Internet and
television," said Marc Chusid, executive producer for the channel.
From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., MSG Metro Guide will air half-hour
wheels, with each wheel containing segments on "Entertainment";
"Eats," on restaurants and food; "Buys," on shopping;
"Kids," with activities for children; "Nites," with information on
nightlife; and "Active," for the "active" and sports-minded. Within
those six categories will be several reports, with each ranging in length from one minute
to two minutes and 45 seconds.
No two half-hour segments will be alike, according to
Chusid. And a ticker will run on the bottom of the screen during each segment, providing
local information and tie-ins relating to the category covered in the segment.
"MetroArts/Thirteen" will air from 9 p.m. to 3
a.m. as the result of an alliance between MSG Metro Guide and WNET, New York's Public
Broadcasting Service station. That six-hour nightly arts-and-culture block will include
shows such as WNET's Charlie Rose, City Arts and Great Performances,
as well as original programming featuring local theater, student drama, arts shows and
Roughly two nights per week, MSG Metro Guide will air
regional collegiate, amateur and professional sports events.
The new channel is targeted toward high-school students
during the day and adults in primetime, with roughly four hours of live programming per
"School's Out," MSG Metro Learning
Center's teen-oriented block, will focus on a different discipline each weekday when
it airs from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to the channel's executive producer, Ron
It will start with math on Monday, arts on Tuesday, science
on Wednesday, history on Thursday and what to do on the weekend on Friday.
"It's an alternative to sitcoms," Fried
said. "It shows how academic subjects are used in the real world."
Each day, MSG Metro Learning Center will have a high-school
teacher and some of his or her pupils in the studio to act as "a think tank" for
what's being discussed on-air, Fried said.
The block will also feature live homework help for
students, as well as tips from Princeton Review instructors on the SATs and on
college-admission issues such as financial aid and filling out the applications.
From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., MSG Metro Learning Center will air
live programming that aims to help adults make the most of their lives, Fried said.
That block will have two hosts -- Bobby Rivers and Susie
Essman -- and its schedule includes shows such as Metro Eats, featuring Vogue
magazine food critic Jeffrey Steingarten and Ed Levine, author of New York Eats;
the weekly Live from the New School programming, which brings the
institution's most popular classes to television; and even Metro Pets and Metro