Sundance Planning Documentary Net


Sundance Channel plans to launch a new service devoted exclusively to
documentary films later this year.

But unlike its premium parent network, it may be offered as a digital basic

The yet-to-be-named channel will feature independent nonfiction films that
don't get much exposure on other networks, including Sundance itself.

Only 20 percent of the pay service's programming consists of nonfiction
documentary movies, Sundance president and CEO Larry Aidem said.

The new service could be offered to operators as a digital basic service,
rather than packaged with Sundance on a premium tier, he said. He wouldn't
reveal specific rate-card figures.

'It won't necessarily be a premium service, but rather a service that would
be offered on a more widely distributed tier,' Aidem said.

Sundance's partners -- Vivendi Universal S.A., Viacom Inc. and actor Robert
Redford -- are hopeful that the documentary network's distribution will
eventually surpass that of Sundance, which currently counts 14 million
subscribers and is available in 55 million homes.

'At the heart of the decision to launch this channel devoted to documentary
film is a belief that these films not only deserve a broader audience, but will
attract a broader audience if we put them out there,' Redford said in a prepared

Aidem said Sundance has received positive feedback from several MSOs and
direct-broadcast satellite distributors, but it has yet to sign a carriage deal
for the service.

'In talking with viewers, operators and filmmakers, it became evident to us
that there is a real need for a dedicated home on television for documentaries
that reflect the breadth and diversity of our culture,' Aidem said.

'It has to be something that operators feel will add incremental value to
their digital offerings and provide value to the subscribers, and we feel it
does,' he added.