The basic background is that Al Gore formed INdTV, and shortly thereafter purchased a satellite-distributed cable news network. The purpose of INdTV's new channel is to focus on the Generations X & Y with entertainment, politics, and political entertainment.
The company, however, is not very media friendly; they don't like to talk about their work. Information is rare, and their website is woefully empty. There is a Googletrail out there, though: here's some snippets.
- Al Gore's INdTV: The People's Programmer. Discusses INdTV using a lot of buzzords, but lists some of their programming lineup: That's F*ed Up, INdTV Paparazzi, State of the Union, Addicted.
- Prospective employees who got rejection letters are encouraged to submit works, according to this SanFran Business Times article.
- Red Herring has an informational article from 9/04, early in the public's contact with InDTV.
- Back in July 2004, Gore said he'd be very hands-on in INdTV.
There's blogs of people who interview for jobs, spoke with company reps, or otherwise have contact:
- Blogumentary: lists some thoughts; links to INdTV sites that, despite being barely 6 weeks ago, are gone.
- A post in Omidyar Network by someone working on pieces for the channel; claims she's still in ther interview process.
- Ploosh!, a blog that tracks the media, posted several items of speculation on the mysterious INdTV.
- Ante Lucem notes that the INdTV application process won't get them the people they need.
- Tim Lang, former TechTV intern, applied for a job & went to an INdTV party. Then, he felt betrayed by INdTV, asked for his submissions back, and got a friendly response.
- Captain's Quarters Blog mentions the new programming and the way it's produced
- Blow Up The Moon has an example of his work he sent to INdTV.
- 2 Dollas rants negatively about INdTV
- Reason Online Hit & Run commented on the hired heads of INdTV.
- Access Intelligence's Cable Group comments on the point where INdTV went from asking for submissions to saying 'enough.'
So, if I were to summarize, I'd say this: INdTV started with the concept of average people producing all the content for their channel. They sent out a 'request for submissions', veiled as 'application for employment'. 2000+ videographers sent in their works, but only 50 were necessary. Everyone else was declined, but the window for future work was left open.
Now, I'd say that there's potential in the concept; VH1 has almost entirely moved to a "get people to talk about real-life stuff on camera" format, and they get positive ratings, and The Daily Show is, essentially, a show about commenting on the stuff that goes on around you. By aiming for politically-interesting content, INdTV's proposing a news channel without news content. What credibility do the submitters have? If they're everyday untrained Joes, not much...but INdTV is hoping they'll be watchable, or -- gasp -- entertaining. The programming list they've released has little to do with informing, and more to do with entertaining; much like The Daily Show, which has become the primary source for world news for people in INdTV's demographic.
Now, we tie in the hunger for bloggers that internet readers have. The number of often-read bloggers is quite small -- but they've got strong audiences. They build their credibility on their own personality, not unlike most talk radio heroes.
If INdTV plays their cards right, they'll recruit a number of producers who can draw viewers, provide something entertaining (and advertiser-pleasing), and fill the hours of broadcast. There's plenty of reasons they could succeed: the culture of their target audience both fuels and thrives on the idea of small voices getting loud with the help of an audience. However, if they're not treating their talent right, if they're not looking in the right places for their talent, and if they're not trying to promote their content producers as lone voices, it's not going to work. Sad to say, looking at the suits they've hired and their histories, it's probably not going to happen.