Actor Kelsey Grammer of “Frasier” fame is the public face of a new entertainment network seeking to appeal to the political conservatives who made Fox News and Rush Limbaugh major cultural forces and successful businesses.
Launched Wednesday, RightNetwork bills itself as “an entertainment network for right minded Americans.” Mr. Grammer, an investor and spokesman, told the Associated Press that the network sprang from his desire, and that of some of his friends, “to stop allowing people who hate us to define us.”
Unlike the blanket nationwide distribution enjoyed by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, RightNetwork is available online and to Verizon FiOS subscribers through a video-on-demand option. The network will also provide content to Nokia through its Ovi mobile store, RightNetwork said in a press release.
It is difficult to build widespread brand awareness through the video-on-demand approach without spending huge sums for marketing, say industry analysts.
Beyond the business challenges, it remains to be seen whether RightNetwork will have programming that can draw a commercially viable audience. It will present a mix of original programming and reruns of conservative standbys like William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” and Milton Friedman’s “Uncommon Knowledge.”
A major original offering is “Running,” a series that focuses on conservative congressional candidates in uphill battles. The first episode spotlights John Dennis, who is running against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Ari David, whose opponent is Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Coverage of candidate Dennis includes shots of his wife leaving the house shortly after 5 a.m. to go to work, while he feeds the family dogs. Candidate David is heard exclaiming, “I have nothing to lose,” in opposing Representative Waxman and later is seen making calls to donors while his young daughter Lucy cries in the background.
Let’s just say you would need an intense interest in politics to find this entertaining.
In full disclosure, it is worth noting that some Monitor staffers, including this writer, were part of the Monitor’s own ill-fated and expensive efforts to start a Monitor cable channel in the early 1990s. One lesson was how tough it is to launch and sustain a new video enterprise. But then, we didn’t have Frasier to tell our story.