One, Sí TV, The Africa Channel form alliance for diversity in programming By
MultichannelNews .com (March 29, 2007) Three minority-targeted cable networks joined forces
with civil-rights organizations and civic groups to form the Alliance for
Diversity in Programming, which plans to lobby against any a la carte
TV One, Sí TV and The Africa Channel are part of the new coalition, which
also includes groups such as the Black Leadership Forum, the Hispanic
Federation, the Hispanic Telecommunications and Technology Partnership,
the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the National Black
Chamber of Commerce, the National Congress of Black Women, the National
Council of La Raza and the William C. Velasquez Institute.
During a conference call, TV One CEO and ADP co-chairman Johnathan Rodgers
(above) said the coalition was being launched in response to the
continuing interest of some congressmen and the Federal Communications
Commission to create regulations to force cable operators to offer
programming on a per-channel basis.
“We’re all opposed to government action that might limit the growing
diversity available to consumers on cable television,” Rodgers said. “TV
One is now three years old, and we have yet to break even. But we’re on
the verge of breaking even. Had we had to come out in an a la carte world,
we would be nowhere as far along as we are.”
Without being part of a broad cable package, start-up minority-aimed and
niche cable channels would not have enough distribution, or ad revenue, to
survive, said Michael Schwimmer, Sí TV CEO and ADP co-chairman.
TV One targets African-American audiences, while Sí TV is an
English-language network aimed at young Latinos.
“The only way a network like ours has any chance of really serving that
community … is by being included in more broadly distributed packages via
cable,” Schwimmer said. “A la carte may sound great for our customers, but
in fact, it’s not a business model to deliver new programming ideas to
ADP will work to raise awareness among lawmakers, regulators and consumers
about the important role of programming diversity in closing the digital
divide. Members of the coalition will also respond swiftly to those who
seek to curtail the programming options of consumers by reducing the
number of channels geared toward minorities.
“While there isn’t anything that is on the front burner at the FCC today,
we think it’s important that people understand the sort of maybe
unintended pernicious effect that a la carte legislation, regulation would
have on entities like Sí TV and TV One and others,” Schwimmer said.
Added Rodgers, “Living in Washington, you sort of hear the drumbeats … we
just need to be ready.”
More than 100 civil-rights leaders and organizations, including the
National Urban League and the NAACP, have filed comments with the FCC
opposing per-channel-charge regulations.
Many of these organizations have argued that per-channel-charge rules
would raise prices for consumers and severely hurt the economics of
smaller programmers that depend on being included in the shared tier for
marketing and advertising purposes.
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