MEDIA
08/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Jewish Channel: Inside The "Jewish HBO"

In the beginning, when Elie Singer created the Jewish Channel, he saw that it was good. But the cable companies were without vision.

Frankly, they had heard the whole megillah before, what with attempts like Mosaic TV, Chai TV and JTV to establish cable channels about Jewish life and culture. "But the people who tried to do it before either didn't know enough about television or didn't know about the U.S. market," said Mr. Singer, 38, chief executive of the Jewish Channel, which recently became available in the New York area. "One of the first questions I was asked by cable operators is, 'What makes you think you can succeed?' "

Ultimately, Mr. Singer prevailed, in part because of his job background in ethnic television. The Jewish Channel -- a premium offering, at about $5 a month -- has been available on Cablevision since September, on Time Warner since early June and on Verizon Fios since mid-July.

The channel's estimated 20,000 subscribers, most of them in the metropolitan New York area, can choose from programming categories like "Israel"; "history and remembrance," which deals largely with the Holocaust; and "American Jewry," which includes documentaries about Jews in the California Gold Rush and other memorable periods.

The channel, which has been labeled the "Jewish HBO," relies mostly on pre-existing content. Original programming includes "Inside the Issues," a monthly Charlie Rose-style program produced in partnership with The Jewish Daily Forward, (a newspaper and Web site), and "Rabbis Roundtable," a group of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox spiritual leaders who convene each month to debate controversial issues like Barack Obama's loyalty to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., interfaith marriage and Eliot Spitzer's infidelity.

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