Mountain air: '08 liftoff for Ski Channel

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Steve Bellamy, founder and former president of the Tennis Channel, is launching another sports-themed channel. This time the action will be focused on activities that can be done on mountains in summer and winter.

Bellamy's company, Atonal Sports and Entertainment, is set to launch the Ski Channel — an advertiser-supported network with distribution on VOD and multimedia platforms — as early as first-quarter 2008. Bellamy said the channel has a long-term affiliation agreement with Time Warner Cable but declined to give specific details.

The network will focus on sports including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, camping, climbing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, backpacking, orienteering, kayaking and caving as well as numerous off-slope activities. The majority of the content is original and will consist of entertainment, reality, news, destination, travel, real estate, equipment, instruction and magazine shows as well as professional mountain sport events.

Bellamy, who calls himself an "avid psycho skier," said he had the idea for the channel more than 10 years ago, before launching the Tennis Channel.

"We are going to be providing content in everything you can do on a mountain, and since that's literally hundreds of activities, it's well-served by VOD since consumers will be able to get specific content (when they want it) and not be encumbered by having to wait through the television wheel of a linear network," said Bellamy, who was president of the Tennis Channel for seven years before leaving in May.

Bellamy added that user-generated content featuring great stunts and big crashes also will be part of the network's programming.

In addition, the Ski Channel has reached charter-advertising agreements with such brands as Panasonic, Mirage Resorts, Marquis Jets and Fender Guitars.

"The Tennis Channel has probably done more for the sport of tennis than anything since Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs (in 1973), and I certainly hope the Ski Channel will do the same for the mountain industry," Bellamy said.

Bellamy is the founder and CEO of Atonal, which owns tennis and golf facilities in and around Los Angeles as well as media businesses including Atonal Films and Television and Palisades Studios.
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