Fox Entertainment Group Inc. will relaunch the merged
America's Health Network and Fit TV under the moniker "The Health Network"
in mid-July, with a new on-air look and new programming, officials said last week.
"The key point is that we're merging these two
businesses because they complement each other," Fox/Liberty Ventures executive vice
president Mark Sonnenberg said. "This will not be a mishmash of two networks. It will
have elements of both, but it's clearly a new channel."
In March, privately owned AHN and Fox, Fit TV's owner,
unveiled their plans to combine their two networks in a 50-50 venture managed by Fox.
Fox's health initiative -- which plans to integrate
its cable network with a robust Web site -- will go head-to-head with a similar venture
Discovery Communications Inc. is launching this summer.
DCI is pumping $350 million into Discovery Health Media
Inc. to launch a health-oriented Web site in early July and a related analog channel,
Discovery Health, Aug. 2. Discovery Health claimed that it has carriage deals or is close
to pacts with a number of major MSOs.
"There are a lot of competitors," Sonnenberg
said. "This is an exploding field right now."
He added that AHN founder and CEO Webster Golinkin will run
the newly relaunched cable network, while the head of AHN's old Web site, Tod
Fetherling, will manage the site for the new channel, which will be a redesigned and
expanded version of AHN.com. Both executives will report to Sonnenberg.
Marc Krigsman, who had been in charge of Fit TV's
programming, will be in charge of Health Network's programming, Sonnenberg said.
Pyper Davis, who had been president of Fit TV, has left the company.
Health Network will have 17 million subscribers, which
includes part-time carriage. Sonnenberg wouldn't say how many were part-time, but Fit
TV had 5.5 million part-time homes. That would put the network's carriage at 11
Health Network will offer a mix of new programming and some
shows from its predecessor networks, Sonnenberg said.
The new fare will include a live one-hour health-news show;
shows aimed at "communities" of health-conscious consumers, such as parents and
women; broad-appeal health shows; and live events that can air on the channel and the
Internet site. AHN.com made its name by showing a birth live on its Web site.
DCI is confident about the launch of its analog health
channel, which it predicted will have 15 million full-time subscribers by the end of the
"We're banking on the trust consumers have for
Discovery and the other Discovery networks," Discovery Health Media president John
Ford said. "And this network will be as engaging as Discovery, with a health wrinkle.
It can't just be dry studio programming. That has been the problem inflicting
health-information programming that came before us."
Ford added that a number of MSOs are interested in taking
Discovery Health Media up on its offer of equity in the company in exchange for carriage
of the analog health network.