Scripps Fine-Tuning Fine Living Net

E.W. Scripps Co., looking to continue its success in the niche-programming arena, is preparing to launch its fourth basic cable network in early 2002.

The Fine Living network hopes to follow in the footsteps of its successful Scripps Networks brethren — Food Network, Home and Garden Network and Do It Yourself Channel — by targeting a small, yet demographically rich niche, Fine Living president Ken Solomon said.

All told, Scripps Networks plans to invest more than $100 million in the new multi-media service, which will target affluent viewers who have interests in the finer things in life and also want to maximize their leisure time.

Although the network's primary target will be households with incomes above $75,000, Fine Living executives believe the channel will reach a broader swath of viewers. "The appeal cuts across all demographics because it appeals to people who want guidance in helping spend their free time," Solomon said. "Everyone needs to find a balance between work and recreation and Fine Living will guide people who want simple and convenient answers to how best to spend their free time."

"This brand is designed to respond to the confluence of these two realities, to provide high-quality programming and an interactive Web destination to help our audience find the best products and services quickly and easily," added Scripps Networks New Ventures president Susan Packard.

The programming will be more story-based, with original shows comprising the vast majority of the network's lineup. Fine Living will touch on such areas as personal transportation and technology, real estate, exotic travel and personal finance. While a multitude of magazines cover these topics, Solomon said there's no single cable network serving such interests.

Solomon wouldn't reveal specific rate-card figures for Fine Living, but he didn't rule out the possibility of packaging the network with other Scripps Network services such as HGTV.

"We'll look for a mix of analog and digital carriage," he noted.

While Fine Living is vying with numerous other channels for precious analog and digital channel space, Solomon said Scripps Networks is in for the long haul.

"We're at an advantage in that we're really not competing against anyone for the fine-living audience," he said. "This company is looking at a long-term asset build."

The network also recently bolstered its executive ranks, making key hires in the programming, business operations and marketing departments.

Charles Segars will head up programming duties as senior vice president of programming and network strategy. Segars formerly was at DreamWorks, SKG where he was involved in the development of such primetime series as Spin City.

Former streaming video company president John MacDonald will serve as Fine Living's senior vice president of business operations and acquisitions, while Robyn Miller will head the network's marketing efforts as senior vice president of marketing. Miller's resume includes 16 years of service at The Walt Disney Co., most recently as vice president of global marketing and studio development for Disney Consumer Products.

Scripps Networks veteran Carol Hicks will assume the vice president of communications position, and Fox Family executive Greg Neal will serve as director of creative services for Fine Living, said the network.

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.