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Two Vie for Jewish Viewers

Two independently owned startup networks will travel different programming and carriage roads in an effort to target Jewish-American viewers.

New York-based Jewish Television (JTV) hopes to gain digital basic-tier distribution with a mix of comedy, music, reality and informational programming, while Harmony, Pa.-based premium service Shalom TV currently offers news, religious and entertainment programming, according to executives from both networks.

Both services are hoping to reach some 6 million Jews in the United States.

JTV, scheduled to launch next February, will offer a mix of programming, from talk shows and reality shows to comedy and topical news fare, CEO John Odoner said. The lineup is a work in progress, but JTV is in talks to simulcast ABC Radio talk-show personality John Batchelor’s weekday-evening show.

Also planned: a Jewish-based takeoff on the irreverent series Politically Incorrect, home-shopping programming and music videos. The target audience is Jewish adults aged 18 to 49.

JTV wants digital-basic distribution and won’t take the cable-desired first step of launching with video-on-demand programming.

The two networks “tell everyone that the genre is in need of programming and there’s a niche that needs to be filled,” Shalom TV vice president David Brugnone said. “Shalom TV is educational, informational and entertaining, and we’re designed as a digital subscription and VOD network.”

Shalom signed its first cable-distribution deal last week with Blue Ridge Communications, reaching 180,000 subscribers. Brugnone said he’s in discussions with other cable companies to gain distribution for the premium channel, which will charge $6 to $10 per month.