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From Brandrepublic.com

Cable channel aimed at the gay market (buffy mention)

Wednesday 31 March 2004, by cally

Viacom planning cable channel aimed at the gay market

Staff, Brand Republic 08:55 29-03-2004

LONDON - MTV owner Viacom plans to launch a channel aimed at the gay market as the popularity of gay characters in mainstream programming such as ’Will & Grace’ and ’Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ rises.

News of the launch comes as the Viacom chief executive Sumner Redstone admitted the broadcaster had made a mistake when it abandoned earlier plans to launch such a station.

Viacom first looked at launching a cable station aimed at tapping the affluent gay community more than two years ago.

Redstone said he rued the abandoned plans that he said would have cost around $30m (16.6m) to set up but would have been worth billions of dollars by now as the power of the US gay market grows to an estimated 240bn, making it hugely attractive to advertisers.

Since then gay characters have been appearing more and more in mainstream programming and are proving a hit with viewers.

’Will & Grace’, which is seen as the successor to ’Friends’, has two main gay characters in Will and Jack while ’Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ had one of its main characters Willow come out as gay.

In the UK there has also been a trend of more gay characters appearing, with storylines popping up in ’Coronation Street’, ’East Enders’ and even on Radio 4’s ’The Archers’.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Redstone has ordered Tom Freston, chairman and chief executive of Viacom’s MTV Networks, to come up with a business plan for what will be the US’s first gay-themed network. It would join Canada’s gay-themed channel PrideVision TV, which is owned by Headline Media and was launched in 2001. PrideVision TV’s audience, however, is tiny reaching only 25,000 homes.

There are few details available as to what it might show but it is understood that it will be a subscription-based service like HBO, which was behind ’Sex and the City’, in nature. Programming is set to include both original and imported series, films, talkshows and other programmes such as ’Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’.

The Viacom-owned movie and entertainment channel Showtime has previously enjoyed success with the US version of Channel 4’s ’Queer as Folk’.