U.S. cabler to dish out Indian TV

English-language net also unveils management team

NEW YORK — American Desi, a cable network aimed at South Asians living in the U.S., has landed its first carriage deal, with EchoStar’s Dish Network.

The English-language net also unveiled its management team, led by chairman-CEO Vimal Verma. Senior VP of programming is Rickie Gaffney and senior VP of sales is Kenneth F. Gelb.

Verma, born in India, was head of Verma & Associates, a division of American Express Advisors. Gaffney was senior broadcast producer for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and Gelb was a regional VP of sales and operations for Paxson Communications.

When American Desi kicks off next month, its programming lineup will include a daily news/information show called “G’Morning”; “Bollywood Fix,” a lineup of movies made in India; “It’s My Life,” an afternoon show aimed at teens; talkshows hosted by TV personalities Divya Ohri and Sree Sreenivasan; professional cricket matches; and a latenight comedy show.

Ohri will also be a senior VP of the network and Sreenivasan an executive producer.

“Desi” means from the homeland, and the network says more than 3.4 million people from South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lankareside in the U.S., a total demographers say will double over the next decade.

EchoStar and American Desi will each pocket half of the $4.99 per month extra that Dish subscribers will have to pony up to get the network. American Desi will also be advertiser-supported, and EchoStar will hold back two commercial minutes within each hour for its own use.

Ray Heacox and Howard Homonoff are senior advisory board members to the network. Heacox was exec VP of sales and marketing for the NBC-owned TV stations, and Homonoff is a former VP and general manager for CNBC Strategic Ventures and former general counsel for CNBC and MSNBC.

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