Originally created 08/06/99

New cable channel will show how to Do It Yourself



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Inspired to start a garden or remodel your kitchen? Home & Garden Television's latest venture promises to tell you how -- on the air and on the Web.

It's a new digital network called Do It Yourself, or DIY, that will go "on-air, online" simultaneously with an integrated Web site on Sept. 30.

DIY aims to give the country's estimated 128 million do-it-yourselfers more than just the basics for home projects. It offers both how-to cable programming and an Internet guide to everything from building plans to supply sources.

That TV-Web convergence is reflected in DIY's motto: "Watch. Click. Print. Do."

"It is one of the first networks where the Web and the network are really co-developed," said Ed Spray, executive vice president for HGTV and DIY. "One is driving the other, and they are equal in the development process."

HGTV, launched by E.W. Scripps in late 1994, reaches some 55 million viewers and ranks in the middle of the top 38 cable networks. It began turning a profit late last year.

"We learned a lot of things (from HGTV)," Mr. Spray said. Most important, "we learned how passionate viewers can be about things that really interest them.

"That may sound like a really simple statement. But if they see a blue sofa on Kitty Bartholomew (a decorating show) and they want it, they will pursue any ends, including calling us, to get it."

Mr. Spray concedes it will be tough to grow DIY as fast as HGTV because cable providers have little room for another analog channel and only 2 million homes now are equipped to receive digital programming.

"I hate to say it, but more people will probably use the Web site than will be able to see us on their TV," he said.

Mr. Spray said television typically is better suited to inspiration than perspiration -- it's easier to get viewers excited about wanting a ceiling fan than showing them how to install it.

"Then add step-by-steps to the Web site," said Channing Dawson, senior vice president for new media, "and that is a pretty good package."

DIY will launch with four one-hour blocks of programming following HGTV's traditional themes of remodeling, decorating, gardening and crafts. Some 1,700 projects will be covered in those first 260 hours, most with step-by-step plans.

There also will be programs on tool tips and "no power tools" building projects for children, and specials on model railroads, furniture refinishing and beginner woodworking.

"We don't want to link DIY just to Home and Garden topics," Mr. Spray said. "DIY defines itself. Anything you can do yourself, including any kind of hobby you can think of -- from antique cars to stamp collecting -- is fair game for us."