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JBS Eyeing Domestic, International Expansion: Golub

With a new name for the network in place, Mark Golub is setting his sights on a bigger footprint for the Jewish Broadcasting Service -- both in the U.S. and abroad.

Golub, the president and executive producer of Jewish Broadcasting Service, which was rebranded from Shalom TV on Sept. 24, believes the network will gain carriage on telco Verizon FiOS before the end of 2014, and gain a foothold in Europe next year.

He said the conversion on the morning of when the community celebrates Rosh Hashanah is more indicative of what the network is today.

“The whole channel is predicated on the PBS model. We don’t feel that Shalom TV conveyed where the network is, or is reflective of the programming we deliver,” said Golub. “We’re like a Jewish-oriented PBS.”

Golub said Shalom TV resonated with many people through its “peaceful overtones,”  but the moniker often raised many questions in the minds of the uninitiated.

“People would think it was in the Hebrew language, or ask if it was an American or religious channel," he said.

While JBS is the only American network to present on-air services during the high holidays and on Friday nights for the elderly and immobile, its scope is much wider.

The network trades on a mix of public affairs programming, major event coverage, twice-daily educational children's programming, plus Jewish studies programs that enable viewers to learn to read Hebrew and study the Talmud. JBS will also continue to serve as television home of the 92nd Street Y's presentations from the Kaufman Auditorium, and deliver a Jewish Film Festival with multiple movies each week.

Golub said Shalom TV distinguished itself this summer among Jewish leaders and Jewish and non-Jewish viewers as the only channel on American television to concentrate on the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza on a daily basis.  A wide array of notable Jewish and non-Jewish figures, reflecting the entire political spectrum have participated in the ongoing series, Israel In Turmoil.

He also noted that JBS morphed from Shaltom TV because the latter was "a hair too parochial," while adding it also shared a name of Christian-oriented channel in Malaysia. “In the early days, there was a lot of confusion, and it still comes up from time to time on searches.

He also believes the new name is a better calling card for its expansion plans beyond these borders. Golub said the network has engaged in conversations with a number of international distributors for dubbed versions of the English-language channel.

Naturally, Golub is looking toward a position in Israel, and has had talks with SKY for carriage in the U.K. JBS is also eyeing launches in eastern and western parts of The Continent

“There has been a wave of anti-Semitism in Western Europe of late. We believe JBS provides lovely, alternative perspectives of Jewish life and culture," he said, “I would not be surprised if in 2015 JBS gains distribution outside the U.S."

Stateside, JBS is looking to butress its linear presence. After bowing as video on demand service with Comcast in 2006, Shalom TV over the years gained a VOD foothold across the nation with on-demand deals with providers, reaching more than 40 million households.

The service in 2012 secured its first linear berth on Cablevision systems serving the New York DMA. It also has carriage with RCN in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Maryland and Virginia; in Miami Beach via Atlantic Broadband; Metrocast in Maine and New Hampshire; Service Electric in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Emmaus, Penn. and Hunterdon, NJ; Hot Wire Communications in Miami, Manhattan and New Jersey; Blue Ridge Communications in Penn.; and Google Fiber in Kansas City, and Provo, Utah, plus an upcoming launch in Austin, Tex.  The service also has a Roku channel, can be streamed on the JBS website, and heard on Tune In Radio.

About a year ago, it exited the VOD space, commiting itself toward a model steeped in linear positioning.  To that end, Golub is confident JBS will launch in a couple of Verizon FiOS markets before the close of 2014, without disclosing the DMAs. He also wants to land on three of the nation's largest distributors.

“We’re in talks with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV that will hopefully result in carriage next year,” said Golub.  

As JBS builds its linear base, it eventually plans to return to its carriage beginnings. “We’re going to look to add video on demand a bit later,” said Golub.

In the meantime, the network’s roots live on in another way: Promos with the likes of Dr. Ruth Westheimer saying “You’re watching Shalom TV on JBS” will air and the former name is uttered in archival interview programming with the likes of a lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

“It’s embedded in some of our existing shows,” said Golub. “We’re not dropping the Shalom TV name entirely.”