Gospel channel hits Comcast (1 Viewer)

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Apr 18, 2005
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After courting Music City for more than a year, Gospel Music Channel has finally landed a spot on Comcast’s cable lineup.

The network will debut on Comcast digital cable Channel 189 on April 3, coinciding with GMA Music Week, a Christian music industry conference sponsored by the Nashville-based Gospel Music Association.

The Atlanta-based GMC bills itself as the only commercial network in the nation featuring 24-hour programming of all gospel music styles, from contemporary pop and country to hip-hop and heavy metal.

Since the Nashville, Franklin and Brentwood areas are the hub of the Christian music industry, securing a gospel channel here was a top priority, said Charles Humbard, GMC’s president and chief executive officer.

“What’s great about this is, we don’t have to create a fan base. It’s out there,” he said. “And for the first time, [viewers] are going to get to see their artists on a regular basis. I think for Nashville, this is really going to offer such a growth potential” for the Christian music business.

Humbard, a former general manager of Discovery Networks, and GMC co-founder Brad Diegel, former president of Turner Entertainment Networks, came to Nashville in April 2004 to announce the formation of their network.

About the same time, the executives first met with Comcast corporate officials in Philadelphia to try to secure a corporate-level agreement to carry the network, a process that took 18 months.

Once that was obtained, GMC had permission to negotiate with the regional operators, got the nod from Comcast in Atlanta, and then, during the past couple of months, in Nashville.

“We know they have a large fan base, and there are so many gospel and Christian artists in Nashville, it seems to be a natural fit,” said John Gauder, the new vice president and general manager of Comcast Nashville.

Gospel Music Channel officially launched in October 2004 with a limited number of cable networks. In addition to Comcast, GMC has since received corporate agreements with Charter Communications, Cox Communications and Verizon Cable. The channel is carried in 1,700 cities nationwide.

GMC has developed a programming schedule with music videos, artists’ biographies and music specials that involve a lot of artists from the area. Some of the production work is being done by a four-person staff in Nashville.

Landing a channel on an established cable system like Comcast is a difficult process, Humbard said. He said GMC didn’t even attempt to go for the more common analog tier that most subscribers get.

Almost daily, Comcast gets requests to add new program channels from networks, Gauder, the general manager, said. There are 70 analog channels and 71 digital channels, with about six in 10 new subscribers opting for the latter, he said.

“It’s our fastest growing level of service right now. We will add about 30,000 households to that level of service this year,” Gauder said.

http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/index.cfm?section=9&screen=news&news_id=48757
 

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