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WASHINGTON - Expanding the programming options available on its FiOS TV service, Verizon is developing a new pilot program called "Community Studio" that will feature on demand content of interest to diverse viewers. The Community Studio concept emerged in discussions between Verizon and more than 35 civil rights leaders.
Slated to begin in the second quarter of 2006, Community Studio will leverage the unmatched capacity of FiOS TV's fiber-optic transmission and offer viewers a library of public interest and civil rights content each month. Customers will use Verizon's video-on-demand (VOD) service to watch Community Studio programs whenever they want to see them.
"FiOS TV's amazing capacity enables us to offer a wide variety of programming, including diverse content featuring voices from the public interest community," said Kathryn C. Brown, Verizon senior vice president, public policy development and corporate responsibility. "Our viewers will benefit from additional content choices, and the organizations will gain the opportunity to reach our diverse and growing subscriber base nationwide."
High-quality public interest programming will come from a variety of established national organizations seeking to reach out to viewers.
Community Studio adds to the already wide choice of programming Verizon provides that is of interest to diverse audiences. FiOS TV currently includes public access, education and government (PEG) channels in each of its TV markets. Verizon also offers a wide choice of diverse programming and emerging networks through its FiOS TV Premier package of more than 180 digital channels and other services. There are over 50 specialized channels designed to appeal to various cultural and ethnic interests.
Initial partners in Verizon's Community Studio venture are the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Hispanic Media Coalition, American Association for People with Disabilities, Black Leadership Forum and U.S. Distance Learning Association.
"Verizon's Community Studio is an historic first, giving members of the civil and human rights community an opportunity to use new and emerging technologies to enhance the national dialogue," said Wade Henderson, executive director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
TVN Entertainment will provide a number of hours of encoding, asset management and distribution services to the public interest organizations as part of the project. "TVN is proud to join with Verizon in giving community groups a platform to reach more people," said TVN Chief Operating Officer Doug Sylvester. TVN is Verizon's VOD service provider and furnishes the backend support, transport and advanced element management tools for Verizon's VOD offering.
Placement of content will be at the discretion of Verizon, which will provide this pilot service free to participating national organizations. Verizon delivers both broadcast and on-demand programming through FiOS TV, now available in parts of California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Virginia.
Following are comments from leaders of the four other organizations that are initial partners in the Community Studio venture:
American Association of People with Disabilities
"The American Association of People with Disabilities applauds Verizon for the exciting Community Studio initiative, and is delighted to be involved," said Andrew J. Imparato, president and CEO. "With its powerful, new fiber network, Verizon can fill a void and create long-awaited opportunities for diverse constituencies - including the disability community, which is more than 50 million strong - to broadcast relevant information to national audiences."
U.S. Distance Learning Association
"Verizon's Community Studio program will enable Americans of all ages, regardless of geography, to enjoy additional education and distance learning opportunities," said Dr. John Flores, president and CEO.
Black Leadership Forum
"The Black Leadership Forum believes that Community Studio will provide an objective voice to the voiceless," said Dr. Joe Leonard, executive director.
National Hispanic Media Coalition
"The Community Studio Project is a great idea and the National Hispanic Media Coalition pledges its support in making it the success it deserves to be," said Alex Nogales, president and CEO.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other communication innovations to wireline and wireless customers. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 53 million customers nationwide; one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks; and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving mass market and wholesale customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 250,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.