The Dish on Scripps’ Lowe

On a rainy, gridlocked day in Manhattan, the This Week in Cable crew caught up with E. W. Scripps president and CEO Ken Lowe to talk about his plans for Home & Garden Television Network.

Lowe was in town to tell and sell his company’s story at two separate analysts’ meetings held here last week. The events are command performances for many of cable’s top executives.

Lowe’s dog-and-pony show had to be a love-in, given the steady cash flow generated by his stable of networks.

That’s especially so for HGTV, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. Analysts have hailed it as one of the most successful network launches of the decade.

Lowe, a wildly successful but modest executive, gave credit in our interview (available at to all of his key lieutenants. Those accolades didn’t make the final cut, because it’s extremely difficult to compress a 40-minute interview into a tight four minutes.

Think about that as you develop your own streaming video content. It’s not as easy as it looks. As we chatted about that, Lowe, like all programmers, has been talking with the regional phone companies, who, one by one, are trying to get back into the video sector.

In part, he tells us, that’s because the telcos and the programming community want to catch up with Japan and Europe and develop video for wireless phones. Those conversations are at an embryonic stage, but they’re happening. It’s about both short-form and 24/7 programming.

You should also know that Lowe does not forget from where he came, and who helped put him on the map. His networks first launched on cable, and he does not want to tick off the owners of that distribution pipe by providing the same stuff to the new guys in town. I admire his sensitivity to the competitive nature of the business today, and how he doesn’t want to screw anyone along the way.

What a guy. Like all programmers, Lowe is struggling with video on demand. He looks at it as an ad-supported medium, because like all basic-cable network programmers, nobody is getting a nickel from cable operators yet.

Interestingly, Lowe is more hopeful about broadband — the Internet — than VOD, for now, and admits that he has no answers as to whether on demand will ever work for programmers, except for those with movies.

And that’s coming from a guy who owns his content and doesn’t have to wrestle rights issues with Hollywood.

So hear and see Lowe at You’ll be stunned, I was, that he volunteered that he was about to be fired prior to the HGTV launch. I was amazed with his candor, especially on-air.

What you won’t see or hear is the great dish we exchanged pre- and post-interview, and during the ride he offered me to his next meeting. I’ll tell you this much: We both have two departed dogs named Ziggy and Zoe.