NEW YORK — “Farm Aid,” the annual six-hour benefit concert for family farmers, will move from CBS Cable’s the Nashville Network to its smaller sister channel, Country Music Television.
The charity concert, organized and hosted by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, will premiere Oct. 3 on CMT.
By moving “Farm Aid” to CMT, CBS Cable executives hope to build interest in CMT and encourage more cable systems to add the channel.
CMT, which has 42 million subscribers, recently has been dropped from cable systems representing more than 1 million subscribers to be replaced by cheaper competitor Great American Country. GAC has between 3 million and 4 million subscribers.
However, Chris Parr, CMT’s director of programming, said the decision to run “Farm Aid” on CMT had little to do with the channel having been dropped. “It’s more of a coincidence that (Great American Country) is out there,” said Parr. “These are things that we’ve been planning for some time. You just don’t do things overnight.”
Parr added that following CBS’ purchase of the 50% of CMT and TNN from Gaylord that it didn’t already own, the cable networks have been encouraged to be more aggressive in developing programming.
“When CBS, a pure media company, became our parent, we’re seeing significantly more focus on growing these networks,” said Parr.
Beginning in 1985, TNN has run “Farm Aid” eight times. In 1996, TNN averaged a 0.8 rating for the entire six-hour telecast.