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No freak show

TUN Network representatives are on Capitol Hill this week introducing a most unique cable-television venture geared toward young adults.

The vision of the network, which is being launched this month in several states: “To be the premiere cable and Internet destination for university students around the world.”

TUN’s chief executive officer, Alex Lightman, says the overall aim is to “provide an inspiring alternative to MTV for 18- to 24-year-olds, with content from the best and the brightest and an editorial spirit emphasizing self-reliance, self-discipline, success-orientation and entrepreneurial dynamism rather than prepackaged rage against authentic leadership and commodified dissent.”

Founded in Muncie, Ind., with production offices in Santa Monica, Calif., the 24-hour digital cable channel — specifically designed for the collegiate age demographic 18 to 24 — plans to utilize the creative work of university students from around the country in film, technology, fine arts, business, and research and development.

The network cites one report stating: “The college student is the demographic that Madison Avenue cares most about, because this group has not yet formed specific brand allegiances or set buying patterns and is thus more susceptible to advertising. The 18- to 24-year-old is considered the most easily programmable type of person, and therefore this is the most marketable group.”

The demographic, including 17 million U.S. college students in 2002, has an estimated $150 billion in disposable income.

“Instead of trying to guess what young people want, as some channels do, TUN taps into their creative resources and lets them produce what they want to see,” the network states.

Scientific enough

In a most unfashionable poll, Time asked the campaign staffs of top Democratic presidential contenders where they shop for clothes. The answers: Howard Dean (Gap), John Kerry (American Eagle), Wesley Clark (J. Crew), John Edwards (Banana Republic), Joe Lieberman (Urban Outfitters) and Dennis Kucinich (Salvation Army).

Come on, is this poll serious?

Admits the magazine: “Polling … based on one to six interns we pretty much randomly grabbed.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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