It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. Ken Solomon, a television and new-media veteran, has won the assignment of heading up a luxury-lifestyle network that will offer programming on topics like yachts and four-star hotels.
Scripps Networks last week named Solomon president of Fine Living, which is set to launch later this year.
Solomon, 38, is a former studio-production head who will join Scripps later this month from iBlast Networks, where he spent 18 months and was president. Solomon helped build that company, now the largest commercial-broadcast distribution network delivering high-speed data directly to consumers.
"It took something special to take me away from iBlast," Solomon said. "There is such a huge audience need here that is not only underserved, but not served. One in seven households makes over $100,000 a year. They have more money, but less time to enjoy it. They are literally screaming for a trusted advisor."
Solomon, who will be based in Los Angeles, is also a former president of Universal Television-now Studios USA-where he oversaw the development and distribution of primetime network, cable, syndication and made-for-television movies.
Solomon was also a co-head of DreamWorks Television. Prior to that, he worked at News Corp. and Fox Broadcasting. At News Corp., he was part of a team that helped launch FX, securing distribution for it from cable operators.
Fine Living will be Scripps's fourth cable venture, joining Home & Garden Television, Food Network and Do It Yourself.
Fine Living's mandate is to be a TV network and interactive Web-based service that will try to provide content to help people "explore their passions and interests in the finer things of life." That means luxury-lifestyle programming focusing on fine dining and entertainment, personal transportation and technology, homes and real estate, exotic travel and personal finance.
Solomon is especially enthusiastic because he doesn't believe this luxury market is being served by television now.
"We're not coming in as the fourth women's network.or another general-entertainment network," he said.
Fine Living hasn't announced any distribution deals yet. Solomon said he knows gaining carriage for Fine Living will be hard.
"It's not going to be easy, but it's been a very warm reaction from distributors," he said.
Solomon was particularly enthusiastic about working for Scripps.
"They have built phenomenal franchises out of whole cloth in this day and age when you're not able to do that," he said. "And they've done it without being a multinational conglomerate."
Solomon met Ken Lowe, president and CEO of E.W. Scripps Co., when Lowe was head of programming for Scripps Howard TV stations and Solomon was in the syndication business. Solomon added that Scripps was a partner in iBlast.