USA Cable (a division of N.Y.-based USA Networks) has finally acquired an arts-and-entertainment channel – and landed a news channel in the bargain. Long rumored to be pursuing American cablecasters Bravo and Ovation, USA’s recent US$100 million purchase of Trio and Newsworld International (which were jointly held by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp and Power Broadcasting) has put such speculation to rest.
According to USA officials, the company has big plans for both Trio and NWI. In its present form, Trio focuses on original dramatic films and documentaries. The new vision is for a channel devoted to all aspects of the arts, including drama, theater, concerts and other musical presentations. The plan for NWI, a 24-hour international news network, is to incorporate more long-form pieces on both domestic and international public affairs issues. An inside source confirmed that the company will invest $300 million over the next couple of years to help effect the changes.
The re-vamped version of Trio is welcome news for arts producers, though some are greeting it with cautious praise. Says Cilista Eberle of Los Angeles-based Michael Murphy Productions, ‘It’s great to have another channel out there promoting arts documentaries, and if they can put the proper marketing out there to get a larger audience, that’s even better. Unfortunately, we all know that it’s only half of it to put a program on air. The other half is to attract the audience through marketing.’