Moretti Hints at Vice Cable Network

A U.S. cable TV network may still be a possibility for Vice Media.

“Vice over the next few years is going to really dramatically increase the volume of premiere formats,” Eddy Moretti, chief creative officer, Vice Media Worldwide, said Wednesday at the Digital Entertainment World Conference in Los Angeles. Citing the company’s documentary-news series on HBO, he added, “We’re going to do more things like that, in this country and around the world, via channel partnerships. Some of our recent investors might have designs for a Vice channel soon.”

In September, A&E Networks and Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Technology Crossover Ventures invested a combined $500 million in Vice.

“Instead of one show on a great channel like HBO, we want 20 shows on one channel or 10 channels,” Moretti said. “It depends.”

Vice had reportedly been in talks last year with Time Warner to take over HLN, though no partnership ever materialized. Vice is currently partnering with Rogers Communications on a yet-to-launch Canadian cable network.

Moretti spoke with Ken Herts of Hertz, Lichtenstein & Young LLP, who pressed the Vice executive on the tension between the company’s reliance on branded digital content as revenue stream and what Moretti repeatedly described as Vice’s “punk rock” identity.

“It’s not easy to negotiate those two parts of the company,” Moretti said. As an example he talked about working with Ford on a year-long series about urban renewal, saying that Ford can “surround” the content with its own messaging without Vice having to get the automaker’s sign-off on said content. “You have to create these systems. There’s no rule book, there’s no manual. Everyone publishes guidelines on branded content and whatnot, but it’s really a bespoke solution every time you do it.”

Asked about NBC news anchor Brian Williams, suspended Tuesday by the network for six months for falsely claiming to have been in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003 that was hit by ground fire, Moretti called the situation “pathetic and sad.” He also contrasted Vice’s credibility as a news organization, particularly with young viewers, with that of traditional TV news institutions.

“Television news and cable news is in a sad state right now, and those numbers have been falling for 25 to 30 years,” he said. “Their credibility is in decline. We’re perceived as a breath of fresh air.”