Regrouping the Military Net

An investor group is looking to revive the idea of a military-themed cable network, planning to launch The Military Network.

The group, led by Tom McKnight, ex-president of trans-Atlantic satellite carrier Orion Satellite, was the only bidder at a bankruptcy auction for the only substantial asset of flopped startup The Military Channel - a 6,000 hour library of military documentaries and other military footage. That network went bankrupt two years ago after it was unable to secure substantial distribution or backing.

But McKnight believes that given the amount of military programming on such networks as History Channel and Discovery Channel, there's a big enough audience to support a themed network. "Somebody tried it and they really messed it up," McKnight said. "Run properly, it's still a good business."

Based in Virginia, the network is in the earliest stages of development, but McKnight is planning The Military Net as an analog cable channel willing to pay launch fees for carriage, something that will easily push ultimate startup costs to $200 million-$300 million.

Players agreeing to back, work for, or at least advise the new Military Network include ex-Turner Broadcasting COO and Comsat President Bob Wussler; ex-Sportschannel and New England Cable News executive Larry Meli and Ex-Navy Secretary James Webb, best know for resigning in 1988 to protest Navy budget cuts.
- John Higgins