Increased funding should bring cabler into more homes

Oxygen Media called a press conference Wednesday at the Western Cable Show — at the L.A. Convention Center — to talk about some of its programming in 2001. But Candice Bergen, whose “Exhale” talkshow is coming back, had to admit, with a pained smile, that “it’s strange not having any audience — I get no feedback” on the show since it kicked off 10 months ago.

Bergen, the star attraction at the news conference, is reflecting the fact that the network is getting into only 12 million households, minuscule by cable standards, missing both New York and Los Angeles.

But Oxygen Media is a privately held company, with the promise of $400 million in total funding over the next five years by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures, AOL and four of the founders of the network: Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner, Caryn Mandabach and Oprah Winfrey.

The programming announcements included “Daily Remix,” a half-hour nightly music series hosted by former MTV news anchor Simran Sethi; “Pond Life,” a half-hour weekly animated series from England that’s getting a new soundtrack because of less-than-intelligible Manchester accents; and a series of biographical specials hosted by Oxygen’s senior VP Cheryl Mills, called “Who Does She Think She Is?”

‘Xena’ to rule

Geraldine Laybourne, chairman of Oxygen, confirmed previous reports that the network would get a run of each episode of the Carsey-Werner series sold to ABC called “Dot Comedy,” and that Oxygen has bought the rerun rights to Universal’s “Xena: Warrior Princess,” which will run every day at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Oxygen has also started buying cable rights to more recent theatrical movies, including “Inventing the Abbots,” “She’s the One,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “French Kiss,” “The Piano” and “Enchanted April.” Starting in January, Oxygen will run a movie at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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