TV One Gearing Up for Launch


African-American-targeted channel TV One is putting more programming and administrative pieces together for its Jan. 19 launch.

No distribution deals have been announced, but executives at the network -- mostly owned by Comcast Corp. and Radio One Inc. -- are expecting analog- and digital-cable carriage at launch.

President Johnathan Rodgers would not say whether the service has any carriage deals in place, but it is initially targeting markets where most of the nation’s 13 million African Americans reside.

He also said operators aren’t talking about switching out Viacom Inc.’s Black Entertainment Television for TV One, which is pitching a monthly rate card with a price he would only quantify as between 5 cents and 15 cents per subscriber. BET currently sells for about 12 cents to 15 cents per subscriber, operators said.

"All of the cable operators get our proposition, all of the cable operators see the value to their subscribers in having TV One," Rodgers said. "African-American viewers, who have been deprived of a choice, should not have to seek out that choice."

Rodgers declined to say whether Comcast has committed a significant number of subscribers. The MSO "has not only been resourceful and helpful, but they’ve been leaders," he added. Comcast officials wouldn’t comment.

TV One will launch with a mixed slate of original and acquired shows.

Rodgers said he is close to naming a TV One programming chief.

For more on TV One, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page three of Monday’s Multichannel News.