Court TV puts its own image on trial

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Court TV is now trying to solve its own case.

Starting next week, the network will spend $10 million on a new marketing campaign--its largest ever--to strengthen its identity with viewers in the wake of recent programming changes.

Since January, the network has been making ratings gains, in part because of additions to its lineup. Its staple--real-life televised court cases and analysis--now is being complemented by crime and justice-related programming.

For example, Court TV runs nightly off-network reruns of "Homicide: Life on the Street," as well as "Crime Stories," a highly rated documentary series. Weekend fare now includes crime or justice-themed movies, such as "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Inherit the Wind."


With the tagline "Inside crime, Inside justice," Court TV intends to meld all its programming--real life or fictional--under one seamless theme.

This is the network's first marketing makeover since it was launched in 1991, and the first under new President-CEO Henry Schleiff.

The new campaign, from Lee Hunt Associates, New York, will include consumer ads, a new logo, on-air graphics and promos, trade ads and an improved Web site.

Consumer advertising, placed by Griffin Bacal, New York, will include national and spot TV, national and spot radio, as well as print ads.

Observers wonder how the new mix of programming will play to viewers, since previously it was largely a news-based network.

"That's exactly the issue we focused on," Mr. Schleiff said. "We want to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

"If you sum us up, we are about real trials, real drama and real life. We are trying to balance the legitimate concerns of information and entertainment," he said.


Court TV has made ad revenue gains, Mr. Schleiff said.

"We already have clear buys from players that have never bought on Court TV," he said. "Package-goods advertisers and automotive advertisers are becoming a more significant factor on our network."

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