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A New Face for Fuse

3/31/2006 7:00 PM Eastern

Fuse has put a new face … er façade … on its TV production studio. Combining a mix of form, fun and function, Fuse last week unveiled a new façade for its street-level studio at 11 Penn Plaza in Manhattan, on the corner of 32rd and Seventh Avenue.

Elevated 23 feet above and extending 16 feet over the sidewalk, the studio's new marquee stands 9 feet tall. Network programming images and text can be showcased within the “light-washed” F-U-S-E letters, which are underscored by an LED ticker, home to news updates and various music information items.

The bay windows on the 7th Avenue side feature illuminated LED curtains that can be opened to reveal the action inside the studio, including live performances.

Above the studio space are four 9-foot by 9-foot screens that can also transmit an array of supplementary images.

The project, created by architecture firm V Studio, also features a new street-level entrance and dramatic outdoor lighting for the facility.

“The new design really breaks the barrier between pedestrians and our studio,” said Fuse general manager Catherine Mullen. “Fuse has always believed in the idea of convergence. This is yet another example of how we can interact with our viewers.”

Along those lines, a number of Fuse programs — Dedicate Live, 7th Avenue Drop, Perfect Pair, among them — incorporate viewers' text messages that are displayed on the bottom of the network's TV screen. These messages, as well as those being delivered from outside the studio, can now also be displayed on the LED ticker.

“People watching our shows from across the street have been sending messages,” said vice president of operations Dave Alworth.

The network's text messaging functionality emanates from a deal with Marketgraph BV, in which Fuse secured U.S. rights to the company's SMS-TV Formats, based on proprietary technology that overlays two-way interactivity, delivered via cellphones and other hand-held devises.

The marquee's debut is only the start of Fuse's high-tech veneer. A new type of electronic “zipper” will run along the contours of the studio's window bays, down into the sidewalk and back up to the fuse marquee logo. The ticker will allow viewers and pedestrians to read e-mails, music trivia, the music charts and “shout outs” from Fuse fans. Those additions are expected to be completed May 1.

Located directly across from Madison Square Garden, which like Rainbow Media Holding Inc.'s Fuse, is owned by Cablevision Systems Corp., the studio is traversed by steady stream of commuters emerging or entering Penn Station, which sits below the “world's most famous arena.” One of the most highly trafficked areas in the world, Fuse executives estimate that the signage is delivering some 500,000 daily impressions

Mullen said Fuse has already fielded queries from advertisers about putting the dramatic presentation to work, but had yet to finalize any contracts by press time.

Mullen said the high-tech look and interactive capabilities will truly be on display when bands drop by for a live performance, the first of which is slated for May.

“It will be like in Times Square, just without having to crane your neck,” she said, an allusion to MTV: Music Television's presentation of Total Request Live at a raised studio at 1515 Broadway.

September