Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Just How Far Will Logo Go? as MTV Chief Tom Freston Launches the First Gay-Themed Basic-Cable Channel, Viewers and Marketers Assess Its PG-Rated Plan

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Just How Far Will Logo Go? as MTV Chief Tom Freston Launches the First Gay-Themed Basic-Cable Channel, Viewers and Marketers Assess Its PG-Rated Plan

Article excerpt

The late May announcement that MTV Networks will launch a gay-themed channel called Logo in February 2005 crone without much info about what programming the basic cable service will offer. (That's due to be unveiled in late July). But even without specifics, Wall Street analysts are bullish on Logo's potential to lure ad revenue and viewers, citing the Viacom division's track record with such niche channels as MTV, VH1, BET, TV Land, and Comedy Central. "Viacom does a lot of research on its networks, and [Viacom head] Sumner Redstone has been talking about some kind of gay network for years," notes Angela Kohler, a global media analyst with Federated Investors in Pittsburgh.

The Traditional Values Coalition has taken note as well, protesting the channel without bothering to wait for word on its content. But Tom Freston, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, does not expect widespread backlash. "We know that some people are uncomfortable with the concept of the gay and lesbian community, period," Freston says. "However, it's fair to say that it has really reached a level in the last several years of being increasingly mainstream."

Freston plans for Logo to reach a vast audience: an estimated 3 million same-sex households in the United States, one third of which are in the largest 10 television markets. Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Francisco are already on board.

Logo will begin with about 25% original programming, says MTV Networks president Judy McGrath. "We've reached out to producers and writers to develop original series and specials. …

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