Policy

Laybourne Rallying Women’s Groups on a la Carte

8/11/2004 11:46 AM Eastern

Oxygen Media chairman and CEO Geraldine Laybourne is rallying women’s groups to help deflect the a la carte sale of cable networks, a programming-distribution method that niche networks consider a death sentence.

In the past few days, groups such as American Women in Radio and Television, the Women’s Venture Fund and the Ms. Foundation for Women have all written the Federal Communications Commission, saying that breaking up large programming tiers would destroy the ability of narrowly focused networks to survive.

“Niche networks that cater to women and other targeted audiences already have a very difficult time securing cable distribution,” Sara K. Gold, CEO of the Ms. Foundation, said in an Aug. 10 letter to the FCC. “If a la carte were enacted, there would be less diversity and fewer channels devoted to women and minorities.”

Many large cable operators and programmers have said that forced a la carte would hit niche networks hard because existing outside of large tiers would not provide the economic support to survive.

However, a la carte proponents say tiering requires subscribers to purchase programming they don’t watch or consider offensive.

The FCC is preparing an a la carte report for Congress due Nov. 18.

An Oxygen spokeswoman said Laybourne has reached out to dozens of women's groups for assistance in the fight against a la carte.

Last month, she appeared at an FCC forum in which she said mandated a la carte was one of the worst ideas she had ever heard.

Oxygen -- launched in 2000 as a new information and entertainment outlet for women -- has about 53 million subscribers.

September