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Jonathan Katz
President & CEO, Katz Networks
Q&A exclusive to EXTRA EXTRA NATPE 2019

What prompted the reboot of Court TV?
It’s important to remember that the original Court TV was a top 20 cable network and at the height of its popularity when it was taken off the air. Everything we do starts with the consumer; our other brands—Bounce, Escape, Grit and Laff—were built on fulfilling consumer needs in the marketplace. In this case, consumer interest in the real-life drama of true-crime programming is at an all-time high—but there is no dedicated daily courtroom coverage on TV. We believe the timing is perfect to reboot Court TV and fill that gap for consumers.

How different will this iteration of Court TV be from its predecessor?
We plan to make the new Court TV the Gold Standard in legal journalism providing Americans with transparency into the U.S. courts system, delivering real life drama as it unfolds in the courtroom and telling compelling stories based on events in the criminal justice system that aren’t being told in any other medium today. Trial coverage on Court TV will air gavel-to-gavel. Viewers won’t miss a moment—from opening statements, through every witness, closing arguments and the breaking news of the verdict. Court TV will super-serve its fans with courtroom coverage whenever it’s happening and expert legal journalism to tell stories beyond the four walls of the courtroom.

If Court TV were up and running in 2018, what trials would have been covered? Forecasting into 2019, any trials on the wish list?
We would have likely covered the State of Pennsylvania versus Bill Cosby; the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics doctor found guilty of criminal sexual conduct; Illinois v. Jason Van Dyke, who was a Chicago police officer caught on tape shooting an unarmed African-American man; the Bret Cavanaugh Confirmation Hearing and more. We are already planning to cover high-profile, intriguing cases and breaking news trials after we launch. Currently, the most prominent will be California v. Robert Durst, who rose to national prominence in the HBO documentary The Jinx and is charged with the murder of a longtime friend.

When you started Katz Networks, tell us about the opportunity you saw? What need have you tried to fill?
Our brands have been built on fulfilling consumer needs in the marketplace, while also helping broadcasters monetize their spectrum and do what they do best, which is serve and entertain viewers in their communities. We saw gaps for specific demos to target and for a specific genre of entertainment that wasn’t being provided over the air: Bounce for African Americans, Escape for Women 25-54, Grit for Men 25-54, and Laff for Adults 25-54. All four have been the catalysts for the growth of the multicast network arena and are leaders in the space. We’re very proud of that. We expect Court TV will also be successful for our distribution and advertising partners.