Chicago Group to Start Laugher Channel

Two former Internet-company executives are moving into the cable arena next year with the proposed launch of a new comedy channel.

Chicago-based Stand-Up Comedy Television (SCTV) -- no relation to the popular 1980s comedy troupe of the same name -- will feature comedy programming targeted toward the "baby boomer" demographic of adults 38-57, network chairman Joe Fox said.

Along with his brother, Avi, Fox launched and ran Internet-brokerage firm Web Street Inc. in the 1990s before eventually merging it with E*Trade Financial Corp.

Fox said the network will feature mostly stand-up performances -- many originating from the group-owned "Studio Stages" comedy clubs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Phoenix -- as well as acquired comedy movies, animation and sketch performances.

The network is seeking digital-basic distribution, although Fox has not reached any deals. Fox also would not reveal a rate card for the service.

While Comedy Central is the dominant player in the cable comedy field, Fox believes that network appeals to a younger viewer than SCTV is trying to reach.

"Comedy Central does exceptionally well appealing to a younger demographic," he said. "We saw an opportunity to reach an underserved segment comprised of people over the age of 35."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.