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Hindery Group Stakes Gospel Net Claim

Cable veteran Leo Hindery’s private equity firm, InterMedia Advisors, has acquired a stake in fledgling digital music network, the Gospel Music Channel.

InterMedia, headed by Hindery and former Alpine Equity Partners senior managing director Peter Kern, acquired the stake from Constellation Ventures about two months ago, said Gospel Music Channel CEO Charles Humbard. Alpine and Constellation Ventures were the network’s original investors. Alpine continues to be an equity partner in GMC.

The size of the investment was not disclosed.

Hindery, who most recently served as chairman of the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, has a long history in the cable industry, starting with the formation of InterMedia Partners in 1988. In 1997, he became president of Tele-Communications Inc., and was named president and CEO of AT&T Broadband after AT&T Corp. purchased TCI in 1999. He resigned that position later that same year. He emerged as CEO of the YES Network in 2001, and was responsible for landing carriage deals for the regional sports network. He resigned from YES in 2004.

Hindery and Kern — a long time adviser to the cable industry — also have extensive experience and contacts in the cable industry, which could help the network as it continues to search for additional carriage.

“It’s important to have strategic investors that bring an understanding of what it takes to build a successful channel,” Humbard said in an interview.

GMC was formed in April 2004 by Humbard, former senior vice president and general manager of Discovery Networks U.S. and son of televangelist Rex Humbard; and former Turner Entertainment Networks president Brad Siegel. Launched in October 2004, the channel now has about 3 million viewers and has a “hunting license” — meaning it can negotiate with individual cable systems for carriage — with Cox Communications Inc. and Charter Communications Inc.

The 24-hour network offers a range of gospel fare, including music videos and interviews with gospel artists. Currently GMC has carriage deals with Cox’s New Orleans system; Charter’s Riverside, Calif. system; Knology Inc.’s Knoxville, Tenn. and Valley, Ala., systems; and with overbuilders Jackson Energy Associates (Jackson, Tenn.) and PurDigital Media (Atlanta).

Humbard said the channel expected to launch with Caribbean cable operator Cable Bahamas on that island last weekend and will roll out on Charter systems in West Virginia, starting Nov. 1.