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Evolution, revolution, and the construction of a gay cable channel
Unformatted Document Text:  2 gay media; negotiating among audiences, media producers, advertisers, and the GLBT community; and fostering different levels of debate and diverse different political perspectives than is currently possible in mainstream media—or the gay media, for that matter. This work comes from a larger project in which I investigate the formation and contours of the gay and lesbian market and its relations to media venues and programming. For this larger study I interviewed more than 40 marketing and media professionals, attended 6 public panels on the topic, and collected more than 100 articles from the mainstream and gay media. For this paper I interviewed Matt Farber, consultant for MTV Networks, Gene Falk, Senior Vice President of Showtime’s digital media group, and Mark Lieber, a representative from Pridevision. 6 I also participated in a panel on the topic at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association annual conference in September, 2002, and collected numerous articles that addressed the topic. The idea for a gay channel was originally floated by Showtime executives in 1994, but did not get picked up then as a viable option. This begs the question why, eight years on, a gay cable channel seems like a credible business proposition: Why now? What about the media, marketing, and programming landscape has changed to make gay cable a possibility? The first developments concern technological changes in media distribution. Affinity portals for GLBT people on the Internet, such as PlanetOut.com and gay.com, demonstrated the size and activity of a large, and measurable, group of gay media users. More significantly, the proliferation of channels afforded by digital cable means that new and niche cable channels do not have to compete with established channels for space on the dial. Second, the sense of a potential audience for a gay cable channel has changed in significant ways: this market is seen as more desirable and less threatening than in earlier years.

Authors: Sender, Katherine.
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gay media; negotiating among audiences, media producers, advertisers, and the GLBT
community; and fostering different levels of debate and diverse different political perspectives
than is currently possible in mainstream media—or the gay media, for that matter.
This work comes from a larger project in which I investigate the formation and contours
of the gay and lesbian market and its relations to media venues and programming. For this larger
study I interviewed more than 40 marketing and media professionals, attended 6 public panels on
the topic, and collected more than 100 articles from the mainstream and gay media. For this
paper I interviewed Matt Farber, consultant for MTV Networks, Gene Falk, Senior Vice
President of Showtime’s digital media group, and Mark Lieber, a representative from
Pridevision.
6
I also participated in a panel on the topic at the National Lesbian and Gay
Journalists Association annual conference in September, 2002, and collected numerous articles
that addressed the topic.
The idea for a gay channel was originally floated by Showtime executives in 1994, but
did not get picked up then as a viable option. This begs the question why, eight years on, a gay
cable channel seems like a credible business proposition: Why now? What about the media,
marketing, and programming landscape has changed to make gay cable a possibility? The first
developments concern technological changes in media distribution. Affinity portals for GLBT
people on the Internet, such as PlanetOut.com and gay.com, demonstrated the size and activity of
a large, and measurable, group of gay media users. More significantly, the proliferation of
channels afforded by digital cable means that new and niche cable channels do not have to
compete with established channels for space on the dial.
Second, the sense of a potential audience for a gay cable channel has changed in
significant ways: this market is seen as more desirable and less threatening than in earlier years.


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