The new leadership at The Health Network, which will relaunch this fall as WebMD Television, is looking for a franchise show for the service and aiming to add more "personalized" original programming.
WebMDHealth president and CEO Patricia Fili-Krushel said WebMD TV will have a "soft launch" this fall, gradually rolling out some of its new programming.
The Health Network is trying to build on the tradition of its first predecessor, America's Health Network, by producing 85 percent to 90 percent original programming.
Fili-Krushel-who joined the company from ABC Television, where she was president-is already forming a programming vision for The Health Network. It includes developing a daily show, which would air sometime from 7 p.m. to midnight, acting as a signature program for the network after its relaunch.
"I'd like to aim for one franchise show that is an anchor show," Fili-Krushel said.
She added that she'd like The Health Network to try to take a more personal approach in terms of how it presents its health and medical information. "We need more programming that tells personal stories," Fili-Krushel said. "Very often, that's very compelling programming."
The broadcast-network newsmagazine shows, for example, have made a mainstay of dramatic real-life stories of people plagued with unusual diseases and medical problems.
Fox Networks, part of the Fox Entertainment Group, operates WebMD TV, which is in the process of a merger with Healtheon/WebMD. The cable network is now in 17.5 million homes, and it is vying with Discovery Health Channel for distribution.
The Health Network's fall plans include expanding its local-outreach initiatives to include on-air, off-air and online components tying into its Web site (www.webmd.com).
For Breast Cancer Month in October, for example, The Health Network will partner with local hospitals and cable operators to offer programs and services. "We like monthly events that we can really work around," Fili-Krushel said.
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