Verizon Creates Its Own TV Channel

If you are one of the select few who gets broadband via Verizon’s FiOS fiber pipe, and you live in the Washington, D.C. area, on Friday you will get to watch the telco giant’s leap into the content business, courtesy of its new channel humbly called FiOS1.

Whatever you do, don’t call it a news channel! That was one message we heard loud and clear, talking to a Verizon spokesperson Thursday. While a lot of what is planned for FiOS1 is what been traditionally called news — weather, traffic, local happenings — FiOS1’s plans also call for local sports (college, high school and even Major League Baseball) as well as… wait for it… USER-GENERATED CONTENT, from “trained” citizen video journalists Verizon has drafted and will send out into the streets with videocams, ready to film… not news, we guess.

(It’s just a hunch, but Verizon is probably a bit sensitive about the “news” channel thing since it doesn’t want to sour relationships with real news providers that Verizon has signed up for FiOS programming. Just a hunch!)

“It’s a local information channel,” said Verizon spokesperson Sharon Cohen-Hagar, who we spoke (and emailed) with Thursday afternoon. While Cohen-Hagar didn’t want to comment on our observation (also pointed out by Karl at BroadbandReports) that FiOS1 sounds an awful lot like cable TV local-access programming — the kind of thing that Verizon has lobbied heavily against — she did say that FiOS1 wouldn’t be “a place where someone spends two hours talking about something.” She did say it would offer “local content you can’t get anywhere else.”

And even though it’s not a news channel, FiOS1 is being executive-produced and general-managed by Michelle Webb, a former ABC News (shh!) producer. Cohen-Hagar said the full-time staff for the channel is about 10 or so folks (she didn’t have exact numbers while traveling Thursday), so this isn’t meant to be the next CNN, but just “a way to bring more value to our [FiOS] TV service.”

In case you hadn’t figured, FiOS1 will be Channel 1 on the FiOS TV service in the D.C. area. If anyone out there could send in a quickie review or a screenshot, we’d be glad to let everyone else see it.