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Evolution, revolution, and the construction of a gay cable channel
Unformatted Document Text:  6 the entire audience, not just gay people, are used to seeing images of straight people produced by straight people for straight people. Lately a shift has started, and this is good, this is what we all respond to: images of gay people largely produced by straight people, and definitely predominantly for an audience of straight people—Queer as Folk and a few other things excepted. Now the paradigm changes when you start thinking about images of gay people produced by gay people for gay people. It’s a whole different ball game, and that’s where a gay channel really comes in. As important, the different model of financing from that of broadcast networks means some freedom from the tyranny of ratings and more emphasis on building fan base for particular shows. While ad-funded television shows must garner the largest possible audiences in order to charge advertisers the highest CPM rates, subscription cable is more concerned with developing loyal audiences for particular shows. Premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime have shown that in order to generate sufficient income, you only need to get each subscriber addicted to one show strongly enough to sign up. And as The Sopranos, Sex in the City, and Six Feet Under suggest, the shows that people are willing to sign up for are precisely those that are well written, are not governed by the relentless eight-minute segmentation of commercial-funded shows, and are powerful, unusual, quirky, and otherwise set apart from the usual network fare. That arguably the most complex representations of GLBT communities on TV appear on premium cable suggests that producers take more character and narrative risks within this financing structure. Subscription cable thus offers content possibilities that network and basic cable television can’t. Yet this channel also potentially offers possibilities that other GLBT media can’t. At a proposed six dollar subscription rate per month, the channel may offer a lot of content for little

Authors: Sender, Katherine.
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the entire audience, not just gay people, are used to seeing images of straight people
produced by straight people for straight people. Lately a shift has started, and this is
good, this is what we all respond to: images of gay people largely produced by straight
people, and definitely predominantly for an audience of straight people—Queer as Folk
and a few other things excepted. Now the paradigm changes when you start thinking
about images of gay people produced by gay people for gay people. It’s a whole different
ball game, and that’s where a gay channel really comes in.
As important, the different model of financing from that of broadcast networks means some
freedom from the tyranny of ratings and more emphasis on building fan base for particular
shows. While ad-funded television shows must garner the largest possible audiences in order to
charge advertisers the highest CPM rates, subscription cable is more concerned with developing
loyal audiences for particular shows. Premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime have
shown that in order to generate sufficient income, you only need to get each subscriber addicted
to one show strongly enough to sign up. And as The Sopranos, Sex in the City, and Six Feet
Under suggest, the shows that people are willing to sign up for are precisely those that are well
written, are not governed by the relentless eight-minute segmentation of commercial-funded
shows, and are powerful, unusual, quirky, and otherwise set apart from the usual network fare.
That arguably the most complex representations of GLBT communities on TV appear on
premium cable suggests that producers take more character and narrative risks within this
financing structure.
Subscription cable thus offers content possibilities that network and basic cable television
can’t. Yet this channel also potentially offers possibilities that other GLBT media can’t. At a
proposed six dollar subscription rate per month, the channel may offer a lot of content for little


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