Martial-Arts Channel to Launch

A new digital service offering an extensive library of martial-arts and
combat events will launch during the first quarter of 2003, network executives
announced Wednesday.

Blackbelt TV will offer nearly 15,000 hours of popular martial-arts films
including Enter the Dragon, Once Upon a Time in China, The
Karate Kid
, Drunken Master, Double Impact and Out for
, network executives said.

The independently owned network will also offer actual martial-arts
competitions from all over the world including World Championship Kickboxing,
Mixed Martial Arts and boxing events, as well as animation, health, fitness and
self-defense programming, network officials said.

'Blackbelt TV is a lifestyle brand for the 18- through 34-year-old male that
will become the one authority for all martial-arts entertainment just as [MTV:
Music Television] has for music and Discovery Channel for learning,' chairman
Larry Kasanoff said.

The service will be offered free to operators for several years before
unspecified licensing fees kick in.

The network will produce and distribute martial-arts-oriented pay-per-view
programming, from which operators will be able to generate incremental

Blackbelt TV executives said the network has 'verbal' agreements with six of
the top 10 MSOs, but it has yet to sign a formal distribution deal. The network
hopes to be in 4 million homes by its launch date.

While the target audience is men aged 18 through 34, the network expects to
attract a wide spectrum of martial-arts enthusiasts, from practitioners to fans
of karate flicks to fans of live combat sports such as boxing and

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.