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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."