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.

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.