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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What new specialty TV channel would you create?

Does the American entertainmentscape really need another food channel? Cuz we’re getting one, The New York Times reported yesterday:

Scripps, the owner of the Food Network, plans to turn on the Cooking Channel on Memorial Day, May 31, this year, enhancing its position in the category of kitchen programming. Before meetings with advertisers, the company is announcing half a dozen series for the channel on Friday, including new ones starring Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray. It might as well be called Food Network, the Sequel.

About two years ago, when the company started considering a second culinary channel, “the advertiser demand for Food was outstripping the audience growth,” Jon Steinlauf, the senior vice president for ad sales for Scripps Networks, said this week. “Therefore, creating a second channel started making more sense.”

The craving for food programming is insatiable, Scripps executives like to say. (They rarely pass up opportunities for food puns; the first press release for the Cooking Channel said that “the time has come for us to have our cake and eat it, too.”) The ratings were up markedly for the Food Network last year, and shows set in kitchens have flourished on other channels.

“When you see Fox lining up its third Gordon Ramsay cooking show in prime time, I think food’s arrived as a mainstream genre,” Mr. Steinlauf said.

Hell, maybe there is room for another network devoted to food. I consider myself a bit of a foodie, but I don’t watch food-related TV programming, so maybe I’m missing what’s missing in the existing food-TV universe. I do know for certain that if I were a god of television, I’d add a second channel devoted to science fiction and fantasy programming, upon which there would be allowed no wrestling and no paranormal “reality” but, instead, lots and lots of reruns of classic series — Doctor Who, Space 1999, Land of the Lost, etc — plus new programming dedicated to movies and TV and gaming (talk shows with reviews and interviews): you know, everything that Sci Fi never or rarely covered, and SyFy surely never will.

What new specialty TV channel would you create?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • I’m with you on a real Sci-Fi channel. I’d also want to do an alternative to BBCAmerica. More classic programmes, sort of a TVLand of British TV (or what they used to have called UKGold.)

  • Bill

    I think I’d like a channel devoted to describing the goings on at the frontiers of science, the history of scientific discovery, and debunking popular psuedo-science. I suppose there are plenty of “science” channels, but from what I have seen, there is a lot of repetition, a lot of fluff. I can’t remember the last time I caught a program about physics that wasn’t devoted to some aspect of high energy physics, as if there is no research going on in any other field. Really, I just want to be in charge of programming at the Discovery Channel. So yeah, either that or channel that just played The West Wing 24 hours a day.

  • kathleen

    there needs to be a channel that just shows all incredibly sexy british actors all day… like a David tennant channel…

  • Lisa

    ^ or just all Tennant all the time just keep the lazy sod working

    Have you heard that he signed up for a four part series, playing a single father, a single Scottish father? ahhhhhhh original accent bliss!

  • the rook

    let me see, how esoteric can we get…

    how about a Philosophy Channel. 24 hours a day of nothing but hegel, nietsche, voltaire, hobbs, diderot, etc. maybe with a little social science thrown in. for variety.

  • joliman

    Puppy Channel! (see This American Life)

  • LaSargenta

    Several years ago, while I was shooting the breeze with some guys on the job during some extremely extended downtime, we all came up with the idea of a Construction Channel with all the screwed-up things that go on in our line of work. Of course, we came up with several show ideas but thought they’d all just barely fill up ONE channel’s programming. Little did we know that later our ideas would become a plethora of different channels and programs. Home Improvement shows and those Dangerous Whatevers would have all been on the same channel for us…along with a diesel mechanic series. Oh yeah, and Fucked Up Things One Can Drill Into When Doing Exploratory Borings — AKA: As-Built Drawings Never Are.

  • the puppy channel! i loves it!

    The Philosophy Channel already has its own theme song!

    and the Doctor Who Channel: come on! 25 years + 5 years + Torchwood (sorry, no peter cushing movies, nor spielberg crap allowed, unless it was a DW Crap marathon and so advertised as such)…

  • RogerBW

    “the advertiser demand for Food was outstripping the audience growth”

    But surely everyone who wants a food channel 24/7 can now watch it anyway? So they’ll start a second channel, and the audience will be split between them. Um?

  • Josh Whedon, 24/7.

    But I suppose that could be folded into a real SF channel, which would also be cool.

    Or a history channel that wasn’t so dependant upon military history. Sometimes I think you’d learn more history on my mom’s travel shows (mostly to European countries) just cultural history instead.

  • allochthon

    A “I’ll give Joss Whedon, Chris Carter, JJ Abrams, Aaron Sorkin and Russell T. Davies unlimited money to do whatever they want, and show whatever they come up with” channel. Maybe JMS, too. And maybe David Eick and Ronald D. Moore, if it’s more Battlestar-quality stuff.

    They could collaborate, do their own thing, I don’t care. Just get it on the air!

    But, mostly Whedon and Sorkin.

  • amanohyo

    Book TV 2 – 48 hours of fiction authors from Saturday 8:00 AM to Monday 8:00 AM ET

    Book TV 3 – 48 hours of professors and celebrities discussing classic fiction also from Saturday 8:00 AM to Monday 8:00 AM ET

    NOVA/Frontline channel – All NOVA and Frontline, all the time.

    Families of the World channel – Each day, the life of a different non-celebrity family from somewhere in the world shown in real time, with minimal editing other than some switching from one family member to another and lengthy interviews with each member in primetime.

    World Faith channel- Each day, one member of a different faith will describe their religion and what they personally believe taking questions from callers/emailers. The faiths will of course eventually repeat, and days will be set aside for atheists and agnostics. Moderate, non-celebrity viewers will usually host, and hosts are limited to one appearance a year. Highlights of the day during primetime.

    Basic Childrearing channel – How-to guide on raising a successful, happy child. Both male and female hosts from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Additional tips on being frugal, housekeeping, and basic maintenance. Once again, male and female (and maybe ever an occasional trans) hosts for every segment, one host at a time.

    Basically, we need more channels with a single person who is not an American, Christian celebrity/pundit explaining their perspective on art, faith, and the rest of the world. The focus in most television programs is on conflict between two talking heads that generate a lot of heat and noise, but never really have time to go anywhere interesting. It leads to the false assumption that there are only two alternatives to every question and that each extreme position is equally valid, in essence asking the viewer, “what team are you on?”

    Of course, the ratings for all of these channels would stink (too much dead time to fill), but I think the good they would do for the relatively small number of people who watched them would be worth the cost of the government footing the bill. Go socialism!

  • The Adam Smith channel. Run, of course, by an invisible hand…

  • Ronnie

    Food Network Classics channel – all the old shows – Grillin’ and Chillin’, Two Hot Tamales, The original Essence of Emeril, Ready, Set Cook etc…

  • I’d be in favor of an Adam Smith channel, too, run by the Adam Smith who was in favor of government infrastructure for doing good things that didn’t make a profit. Wait, that would be PBS.

  • Javier

    I’d have to agree with previous posts. http://www.thepuppychannel.com is kinda cool. like the facebook for dog enthusiasts.

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