Scripps to bow posh Fine Living cable net

Tips for rich on target for Web, too

NEW YORK — Scripps Networks has begun marketing Fine Living, a proposed 24-hour cable network aimed at people with lots of money.

Susan Packard, president of new ventures for Scripps Networks (which owns Home & Garden TV and Food Network), said Fine Living will zero in on such categories as gourmet cuisine, luxury transportation, expensive interior decoration, exotic travel and personal finance.

Target date for launch is sometime in the second half of 2001, she said.

Fine Living will link up with an interactive Web-based service that Packard said will be a quick resource for “the time-starved, upscale, discriminating audience that wants to get information about — to take one example — wines that cost more than $30 a bottle.”

The Fine Living Web site is also in development for the second half of 2001.

Packard acknowledged that, in order to gain any clearance at all for Fine Living, Scripps will have to accept digital tiers both on cable systems and on direct-broadcast-satellite distribs.

Analog coverage, which would make Fine Living available to all of a cable system’s subscriber base, has pretty much vanished. Cable operators use analog as a resource for digital compression: One analog channel can morph into as many as 10 digital ones. It makes no sense to waste analog on one service like Fine Living.

Fine with wealthy

But Packard said that the cable system in a posh community like Aspen, Colo., might be interested in Fine Living as an analog channel; no other community in the U.S. has more wealthy people per acre.

Scripps is counting on an aggressive rollout of digital boxes in cable homes over the next few years, Packard said, which would give Fine Living a shot at some decent clearance rates within its first few years of operation.

Packard declined to reveal the cost of producing and distributing Fine Living, but said the network will be able to draw on the libraries of HGTV and Food Network for some of its programming.

The Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis will partner with Scripps in Fine Living in Canada, similar to its partnership for HGTV, Food Network and DIY (Do It Yourself).

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