Here’s an idea for a money-making opportunity that few people have pursued. When I first learned that
leased cable access allowed video producers to distribute their programs on the local cable system in
addition to low-power and full-power broadcast TV, I realized that local advertising dollars would be their
primary source of revenue. I then began to assess the local ads in my city’s newspapers and on local radio
and TV. I found that real estate companies and restaurants spent money on ads consistently. It was no
surprise, then, that there were many local videomakers doing programs with these themes in an effort to
Local real estate programs generate healthy ad sales, as do local restaurant programs. I did, however,
find another category that was abundant, yet I’ve seen few, if any, leased access programs on this topic:
The fashion category, as defined by ads in local newspapers, consists mainly of hair salons, shoe stores
and clothing stores. Most local newspapers have plenty of ads in these categories and equally healthy
budgets. This is a key consideration in working out an idea for a weekly program. You’ll need lots of
advertisers with lots of money to spend.
It’s also important to attract people who want to be on TV. Whether they’re in commercials or in the
body of the program (as local experts), the fashion business is full of people who like to be on TV. They
really enjoy the comments that customers make to them about seeing them on cable, and they like being
recognized on the street as well. Some people also enjoy seeing themselves on TV. This "glamour
factor" is valuable in selling advertising.
Fashion is rich in visual content. Compared to accounting, for example, fashion is very visual. There are
some local programs on the topics of banking and accounting, but these tend to be a challenge to make
visually interesting. It seems that fashion is an ideal topic for leased access.
Getting started in the local fashion business requires a demo tape. You should be able to get permission
and cooperation from local merchants to include them in your pilot program. Once completed, you can
take this to your local cable operator to show them the type of program that you want to distribute.
The leasing process is sometimes challenging because some cable operators would rather not lease time
to independent videomakers. The law, however, obligates them to do so.
Once you have a weekly time slot, you can begin to sell ads. You may need to give charter discounts
just to get clients to try it out. After a few weeks, they should begin to receive some feedback from
colleagues and customers (and they’ll see themselves on TV, too).
You’ll also want to get your program in the local TV listings. You can do this by getting in touch with
the local newspaper or the agency that provides TV listing to them, either TV Data Technologies at 518-
792-9914 or Tribune Media Services at 518-793-8861. These companies are in the business of compiling
complete and accurate TV listings and selling them to local newspapers.
To learn more about the details, pick up a copy of The Cable Leased Access Report or The Leased