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Austin Chronicle Watch This

By Stuart Wade

JUNE 1, 1998:  "70 More Cable Channels on Their Way From Time Warner," blared the Statesman headline of May 20.

That's room for an awful lot of new, specific content, in a cable-viewing world already rife with such vertical-interest programming choices as The Golf Channel, Home and Garden, and CSPAN-2.

Just a few weeks ago at the National Cable TV Convention there was actually a report regarding The Puppy Channel: New channel operators are waiting in the wings to join the high-capacity digital cable of the future. The Puppy Channel is one of them: all puppies, all the time - a broadcast that backers say will be "relaxing" to watch.

In the spirit of this new venture, we present a few additional channels in the works:

Fresh from a succcessful four-year run airing only during American mealtimes, the all-new Major Surgery Network goes live June 30. According to a press release, the new channel will offer around-the-clock footage of actual surgical procedures, some of them live. TV's James Garner plays host to Lean and Mean, a special holiday look at angioplasty, set for Thanksgiving night. Major sponsors of the new channel are said to include McDonald's, The American Heart Association, and Tylenol.

Over on The Man Channel there will be no talk, no music - in fact, no sound at all - just a revolutionary split-screen featuring either live sports events or female nudity on the left side of the picture, and a continuously changing channel on the right half. Guys, crank up your stereo and kick back: No more surfing! "We're way jazzed about Dick," said a Man Channel executive, regarding "Dick!" - a new cross-promotional program and longform advertisement produced in conjunction with Miller Lite and its irrepressible ad campaign character.

Combine American Movie Classics with the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day telethon, and voila - you have JLN, The Jerry Lewis Network. Hosted by a highly caffeinated Jerry himself, and broadcasting 24-7, this spirited undertaking will re-broadcast all of Lewis' movies, telethons, and interviews. Occasional co-hosts will include Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra Jr., and Joe Piscopo. With French subtitles.

"Surveillance! The Security Channel" is just the ticket if you want to keep up with the neighbors... whether they're next door or in a hotel suite in downtown Manhattan. All you have to do to monitor the activities of millions of private citizens in apartment lobbies, dressing rooms, and expressways is switch to the new 24-hour random-access surveillance-camera network. October is "ATM Month."

Book lovers, set your VCRs as The Dictionary Channel's camera slowly pans over an entire Random House Unabridged Dictionary (Second Edition) from A to Z over the course of a year. While you learn, listen in as the reference tome's usage panel debates words as they appear onscreen.

On the Bow Tie Channel, follow along as veteran wearer Bob Runciman shows you how to tie that tricky and elusive knot.

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