Billing itself as “C-Span with an attitude,” a new 24-hour cable/satellite public affairs channel called National Empowerment Television preems from Washington Dec. 6.NET, with an apparent conservative slant, is a not-for-profit venture initially being bankrolled by foundation grants. The web’s mission, said chief operating officer Burt Pines, is to make life miserable for status quo politicians and entrenched bureaucrats. “We plan to let America talk back to Washington,” said Pines, a feisty former senior editor of Time magazine. “We want to put government on the defensive.” NET honchos deny the venture’s sole purpose is to lampoon liberals. “This is not a Republican operation,” Pines insisted. Nevertheless, the program offerings appear to have a pro-GOP bias. For example, one daily offerings will be the half-hour program “Direct Line with Paul Weyrich.” He’s a conservative GOP activist who also happens to be president of NET. House Republican Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) also has his own show, as does conservative columnist Robert Novak. In addition, conservative media watchdog org Accuracy in Media will have an hourlong program each week. At the outset, NET plans eight hours a day of live programming — mostly between 4-11 p.m. — along with 16 hours of reruns. NET will be available free to the 4 million homes with satellite dishes and hopes to entice cable systems to carry the service. Media General is the only cable MSO to accept the offer thus far, having agreed to set aside channel capacity for NET on its Fairfax County, Va. system.
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