- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

The most compelling stories on Earth are right on Main Street. So says Doron Gorshein, who has founded the America Channel, a planned reality TV network that will showcase the mettle and moxie of everyday America.

The sexual repartee, maggot eating and other outlandish dramatic devices that crowd the current reality genre have no place here. Celebrity worship is nonexistent.

“We have one mission: to produce real shows about real Americans, told by real Americans,” Mr. Gorshein said yesterday. “This is a new kind of reality TV which covers the triumphs, struggles and achievements of ordinary Americans.”

The 24-hour, Orlando, Fla.-based network will air next year, seeking to satisfy a hunger in viewers that mindless fare from Hollywood and Manhattan has yet to satisfy. Organizers announced the planned network yesterday.

“We’re going to give them some real nutrition, not high-fat content,” Mr. Gorshein said “People miss a sense of community, of connectivity with their fellow Americans.”

He says he wants masterful storytelling in a nonpartisan environment, concentrating on “profiles of people who aren’t celebrities and visits to places which aren’t landmarks.”

A former executive deal-maker with CNN and EchoStar, Mr. Gorshein has been mulling over the idea of heartland America-based programming since the 1990-91 Gulf war.

“But the idea really took shape after September 11. I was flipping from channel to channel, and honestly, I could not find anything that resonated with my sensibility as an American in these times,” he said.

Mr. Gorshein is not alone in his sentiments.

The new network polled 600 cable and satellite TV viewers to find that 58 percent said “television does not reflect the real America.” Another 88 percent said connecting with other Americans was of “tremendous importance,” while 63 percent said they longed to learn more about “the everyday lives of Americans around the country.”

Nearly half, 47 percent, said it was difficult to find TV content that “really speaks to me,” the survey found.

The network is out to articulate what speaks to typical folk.

Among other things, the programming highlights the average Joes who manage extraordinary accomplishments, people with unusual jobs, a look at “real college life,” and a road trip in search of America aboard a bright green Hummer.

News programming, at this stage, is nonexistent, though a show called “America From Afar will provide an ongoing “stark look” at how the foreign news media portray the United States.

The new network will have a modest but strategic start, according to Rick Newberger of Vanguard Media, an advisory group that helped develop the Golf and Sci Fi channels and Tech TV.

“This network is widely appealing. It has staying power,” Mr. Newberger said. “We plan to start smaller and take longer to develop the audience.”

Initially, the America Channel will aim for distribution in 5 million homes, reaching 25 million in three years and 50 million “at maturity” in five to seven years.

By comparison, the top cable channels such as CNN, A&E; and Fox News each reach 80 million or more U.S. households.

The network may also showcase the made-in-America mind-set.

“The America Channel concept is wonderful, especially for some of America’s heritage brands,” said RIck Milenthal of Ten United, an advertising agency that represents such brands as Hoover, Comet, Prell and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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