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CGTV Gambles on Digital Cable

Executives at Casino and Gaming Television are rolling the dice against what they perceive as a large untapped market segment.

The fledgling service, which hopes to bow in the fourth quarter of 2004, is targeting the 53 million Americans who visit casinos annually, particularly males 21-34.

CGTV president and CEO Nickolas Rhodes -- a former executive at Speedvision (now Speed Channel) and Outdoor Life Network -- said the channel would provide a forum to reach this coveted advertising group, as well as others interested in this world. Informational and educational components will center around five core programming categories: casino games; recreation; tournaments and events; sports; and entertainment/nightlife.

Looking for digital placement, Rhodes said CGTV is seeking "very modest license fees" as it looks to bow with 1 million subscribers. The channel’s target: 20 million subscribers within four years.

Although the service would not feature any transactional elements, David Hawk, the network’s cofounder and founder of factoring company Global Financial Group LLC, said CGTV is considering online extensions with MSOs that could include consumer contests for prizes.

Hawk said CGTV has "already raised eight figures" as part of a $75 million pot that will guide its launch and its early years. Robert Carlsson, CEO of 21 Capital Group Inc., is helping Hawk to secure equity funding.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, CGTV has plans for offices in Chicago and New York, as well as a production facility in Las Vegas.

"We’re looking at 1,000 to 1,200 original hours as we get ready to launch," Rhodes said, noting that the network will have a fast-paced, glitzy appeal and include programs from international sites like Monaco.