Techtv Launches Today in ZDTVs Place

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As of today, don't look for ZDTV on your cable lineup: It's been renamed Techtv.

The name change comes seven months after ZDTV founder Ziff-Davis Inc., which was looking to shed everything but its online assets, sold the cable channel to Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures Inc. for $320 million. Launched in May 1998, ZDTV counts about 19 million subscribers.

Network CEO Larry Wangberg said last week that ZDTV's focus on programming about computers and the Internet-including how-to, product-review and entertainment shows-will not change under the Techtv brand.

"One of the reasons why we think [the new brand] is so powerful for us is that it gives a person who is not yet familiar with our channel and our Web site a pretty good indication of what this is all about," he added.

The network's Web site will switch to www.techtv.com, a domain name Vulcan picked up through the acquisition.

In addition to the name change, network executives plan to step up production of original programs during the next year.

Techtv executive vice president and chief operating officer Joe Gillespie said the network will increase the amount of original programming it runs by 50 percent with new news and entertainment shows.

Techtv currently runs 13 programs that add up to six hours of daily original programming, which are repeated. The network's primetime lineup includes ZDTV News (8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) and The Money Machine (8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.), followed by four half-hour series: Internet Tonight, Zip File, a repeat of ZDTV News and Silicon Spin.

Techtv plans to add three new shows at the end of the month, including the half-hour weekly magazine program AudioFile, which premieres Aug. 29.

The network also plans to announce this week that it signed a new distribution agreement with Charter Communications Inc., which will push Techtv past the 20 million-subscriber mark. The MSO agreed to distribute the channel to at least 50 percent of its basic subscribers by the end of the year.

Techtv owner Paul Allen also owns about one-half of Charter, one of the network's biggest distributors. Other affiliates include Time Warner Cable, AT & T Broadband, Adelphia Communications Corp., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc.

Gillespie said Techtv also plans to announce an agreement this week with Web portal Go2Net Inc. that will see ZDTV become a primary supplier of technical-news content for the portal. Allen owns about 30 percent of Go2Net.

Network executives said the average ZDTV viewer is 38 and earns $76,000 per year, and about 80 percent of the viewers are male. That information comes from viewers who have responded to information on the network's Web site, Gillespie said.

ZDTV doesn't subscribe to Nielsen Media Research ratings. The channel expects to begin ordering Nielsen numbers during the second half of 2001, Gillespie said, adding, "We want to have a large enough base of subscribers."

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