More than 15 million U.S. citizens are of Asian descent, and, for the first time, there’s a 24-hour national network produced by and for them. By the time Diversity Week rolls around again in 2005, that network might have more than one competitor. ImaginAsian TV, which began service Aug. 30, is poised to announce its first cable clearances as operators gather in New York for Diversity Week. The network will be visible, thanks to a NAMIC Conference panel that will include ImaginAsian TV CEO Michael Hong. "People are excited about what we’ve done," Hong says. "We’ve got a flood of press and a ton of launch calls." Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Adelphia, RCN and two other MSOs are in negotiations with ImaginAsian, which features movies, series and specials from various Asian TV and film sources. All programming has English subtitles. During prime time, hosts introduce and elaborate on what’s presented in order to draw a crossover mainstream audience. American-made shows featuring Asian-American talent will be launched over time, with at least three series running during the net’s first year. Some multi-platform advertiser deals will be announced in the next week or so, Hong says, covering buys on the net, its website and placement in The Imagin-Asian, an Asian cinema theater in midtown Manhattan. At least two proposed full-time services—WorldAsia TV, which like ImaginAsian, is New York-based, and The Asia Channel, located near Chicago—hope to enter the fray. WorldAsia anticipates launching in April or May 2005, going with more domestic programming right off the bat. "There’s a wealth of talent in this community that we want to tap, and create opportunities for them on both sides of the camera," says WorldAsia CEO Michael Tsang. WorldAsia recently taped Take Out Comedy, a pilot for a stand-up performance showcase in association with the Improv clubs, and it will soon start producing Feng Shui This, in which celebrities show off their aptitude for feng shui. Asia Channel management did not answer repeated calls for comment on their venture’s status and plans. In addition to the coming Asian start-up networks, International Channel will expand its nightly "Asia Street" programming Oct. 6 with comedy and high-tech gadget series; a travel show will premiere Nov. 2. The International Channel’s Asian block currently runs 90 minutes weeknights, three hours Saturday nights and two hours Sundays.

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