You don’t have to be Jewish to love Shalom TV, but it’ll help if you’re a Comcast digital customer. At a Kaitz dinner a few years back, Time Warner chief Dick Parsons joked that cable was so deep a part of Brian Roberts’ lineage that even the person who performed his ritual circumcision was a cable splicer. Both sides say Roberts’ Jewish heritage had nothing to do with the March 20 announcement that Comcast has signed a corporate license agreement with cable net Shalom TV. Still, to paraphrase a Jewish joke that recommends chicken soup for every ailment, even death, "it couldn’t have hurt." The carriage deal calls for Shalom TV to be distributed via Comcast on subscription VOD beginning in Philadelphia in late summer. Additional rollouts will start in early October. In addition, the channel will make its SVOD debut with Blue Ridge Communications (180,000 HHs in northeastern Pa.) this summer. Shalom sealed its deal with Blue Ridge two summers ago. (BRIAN) LAMB WITH CHOPPED LIVER English-language Shalom, which means "peace" in Hebrew, will deliver 50 hours of programs monthly, refreshed weekly, in categories including news/information, movies, Israel, children, Judaism, conversations, culture and history. The New York-based channel will also be akin to a Jewish-flavored C-SPAN, carrying unedited long-format coverage of lectures, panels and public forums, some from Israel. Shalom has secured agreements with a bevy of Jewish and Israeli organizations, which will provide films and English-language news coverage from Israel. While the channel will appeal mostly to Jewish viewers, Shalom TV president/CEO Rabbi Mark Golub argues that the network’s appeal will extend to cable subscribers who are interested in news and information about Israel and those who are simply curious about Jewish life. While 5.2 million Jews live in 2.9 million homes in the U.S., ranking it first in the world for Jewish population, 75% of Jews reside in just 11 metropolitan areas. That made it imperative for Shalom to seek launches "in several key cities," COO Brad Hammer says. Shalom was conceived as a linear service, but after meeting with MSOs, the network’s management decided to move toward the VOD space, says VP of sales Dave Brugnone, a 30-year cable veteran. "Bandwidth was less of an issue, and we were granted a larger launch footprint, which is music to the ears of any emerging network." Still, a linear network remains attractive, both programmatically and for the ability to work with DBS, Rabbi Golub says. Golub, who jokes that Shalom TV was 5,700 years in the making, 15 years ago founded Russian Television Network of America for Soviet �migr�s coming to the U.S. and Canada. His cable contacts from that network and those of Mr. Brugnone gave Shalom entry with MSOs. —Seth Arenstein

The Daily


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