Just what America needs: another cable channel. This one greasing the skids for “social change” targeting “The Next Greatest Generation of viewers.”
NYT‘s Brian Stelter: Participant Media, the production company behind films like “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Food, Inc.” and “Waiting for ‘Superman,” said on Monday that it planned to start a cable channel of its own by combining the assets of two obscure channels, The Documentary Channel and Halogen TV.
Participant said it was aiming to start the untitled channel in the summer of 2013. Evan Shapiro, a former president of IFC and the Sundance Channel, who joined the company last spring, will run the new channel.
“The goal of Participant is to tell stories that serve as catalysts for social change. With our television channel, we can bring those stories into the homes of our viewers every day,” said Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant.
The channel could be a destination for documentary films made by Participant and other producers. Participant said it would also have original programming. It named several people who are involved in making it, including Brian Graden, Brian Henson, Davis Guggenheim, Meghan McCain and Morgan Spurlock.
The channel will target viewers under the age of 35 — those, as Mr. Shapiro put in a news release Monday, that cable and satellite distributors are “most at risk of losing.” In other words: Participant might try to get the channel picked up by pitching it as a way for distributors to retain young subscribers. Distributors, however, are generally reluctant to carry new channels.
When it starts, the new channel will already reach 40 million homes, Participant estimated, thanks to the channels it is acquiring. The company said on Monday that it had completed a deal to acquire The Documentary Channel, which is available in about 25 million homes, and was working on a deal to take over Halogen TV’s channel position in about 15 million homes.
The terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Among the many documentaries distributed by Participant was “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” a feature about The Times that was released last year. (Several reporters from the newspaper’s media desk, including the one writing this story, were featured in the film.)