Reality Central Takes to Airwaves

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Looking to drive demand for its planned digital cable network launch this fall, Reality Central cut a deal with United Stations Radio Networks to run news and gossip segments about reality TV show personalities.

Reality Central president Larry Namer said the network is supplying the content, which will be offered to 3,300 radio stations, for free.

“I couldn’t care less if we ever made money on it, but it’s an incredible marketing and branding tool for us,” Namer said.

USRN executive vice president of programming Andy Denemark said the company recently recorded satellite interviews with talent from Survivor: All-Stars, the Mark Burnett production currently airing on CBS.

Denemark said the slate of radio programming debuting in June will feature satellite interviews with reality stars ranging from six to 10 minutes in length, with the news and gossip segments spanning 60 to 90 seconds.

In other marketing efforts, Reality Central has also cut deals with Stuff and Star magazines, in which the network will exchange editorial content and promotions with the publications.

Reality Central landed its first carriage deal, an agreement with Insight Communications Co. in February. Namer said last week that the diginet had just signed a carriage deal with another top-10 MSO, which he wouldn’t name, and that he’s close to an agreement with two additional top-10 operators.

Executives originally planned to launch the network in January, but pushed back the start date until October in order to build a wider distribution base, Namer said.

The network is pitching deals that include four years of free carriage if an MSO cuts an affiliation agreement by the time the network launches, Namer said.

Unlike the Zone Vision Enterprises’ Reality TV channel, which debuted on EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network satellite package in December with repeats of shows like Rescue 911 and America’s Most Wanted, RC will feature reality shows from foreign countries and expanded repeats of U.S. reality shows.

RC will also run daily gossip shows such as Reality Central News.

The network hasn’t yet cut any deals with reality show owners, but Namer said that he’s close to acquiring rights to 30 international reality shows.

RC will also pitch cable operators subscription video-on-demand programming that will feature shows that are “too hot for basic,” in addition to a broadband feed for cable- modem subscribers, according to Namer.