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IFC boosting subs by 5 mil

Upscale, educated viewers flock to net, sez Hill

NEW YORK — Chuck Dolan’s Independent Film Channel has racked up three of the most extensive cable-carriage agreements its six-year history, landing commitments from Time Warner Cable, Adelphia Communications and Paul Allen’s Charter Communications.

In addition, DirecTV has upgraded IFC from Total Choice Platinum, which costs satellite-dish owners $41.99 a month, to Total Choice (only $31.99 a month), guaranteeing the network hundreds of thousands of additional satellite subscribers.

Gregg Hill, exec VP of affiliate sales and marketing for the Bravo Networks, said the DirecTV upgrade has pushed IFC’s subscriber total to 17.8 million. Time Warner, he said, has promised IFC 3 million more subscribers by the end of 2003, while Adelphia and Charter will deliver an additional 2 million each for IFC.

IFC, a niche network focusing on independent movies and foreign films, plans to schedule hours of coverage of this month’s Cannes Film Festival. Hill said IFC attracts upscale, educated viewers who tend to be the early adapters of new technologies like digital boxes.

“Cable operators are beginning to gravitate to IFC because they’re looking to serve this affluent audience,” Hill said