PrideVision restructures, looks for partner/buyer

Citing 'slower than anticipated growth in the number of subscribers,' PrideVision owner Headline Media Group announced late December that it has restructured to lower operating costs and continues to talk to 'third parties' regarding partnership or sale.

Citing ‘slower than anticipated growth in the number of subscribers,’ PrideVision owner Headline Media Group announced late December that it has restructured to lower operating costs and continues to talk to ‘third parties’ regarding partnership or sale.

After a desperate plea to the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community to save the channel by boosting its viewership pool from 20,000 to 70,000 failed to attract enough new subscribers, the channel was forced to lay off about half its staff, leaving fewer than 10 full- and part-time employees at its Toronto headquarters.

‘By reducing our operational expenses associated with PrideVision to levels we feel are more in line with the current subscription and advertising revenues, we will see a dramatic drop in the burn rate associated with this subsidiary,’ HMG chairman and CEO John Levy announced shortly after the cuts. ‘There is still more work to be done and every expense is being evaluated.’

HMG also stated that the channel will continue to broadcast, and that a master affiliation agreement has been reached with a ‘major U.S. cable operator’ allowing the channel to continue negotiating carriage agreements in the States.

VP marketing Anna McCusker – who has since been laid off – said that in addition to paring down staff, the digital station has had to suspend all new programming.

As part of an initiative to increase its subscriber base, PrideVision offered Rogers digital subscribers two free weekends of programming in late November and early December.

‘Each carrier was invited and asked and pleaded with to open up the free preview,’ said McCusker. ‘Rogers was the only one that worked extremely fast and did everything possible to ensure PrideVision’s success.’

McCusker said HMG is still hopeful that one way or another, the channel will survive. ‘We’re still very optimistic as to the opportunity of having a partner come in and there are interested parties. Having made history for the GLBT community and making it in Canada, we feel that we are a success story regardless of what happens.’