Jewish Journal

Channeling Success

Despite difficulties in raising funds and community awareness, JTN expands its programming and audience

by Tom Tugend

December 3, 1998 | 6:59 pm

"I've been pushing this rock uphill for 10 years, and I won't stop until I reach the top," says Jay Sanderson.

The "rock" Sanderson is edging upward is the Jewish Television Network, and it's been grunt work most of the way.

Founded in 1981 with a minuscule $75,000-a-year budget, JTN was barely breathing when the former commercial film writer and producer took over a decade ago.

Since then, the annual budget has risen to $1 million to cover production of some 300 hours of programming. While some of Sanderson's ambitious goals -- such as a 24-hour national Jewish cable network -- remain elusive, JTN's year-end report reflects solid achievements and promising prospects.

  • In Los Angeles, 10 different JTN programs air weekly over all local cable systems during nightly (except Friday) one-hour time slots.

  • JTN has expanded from its home base, and selected programs can now be seen in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, South Florida, the Bay Area, San Diego and Washington.

  • In a recent major breakthrough, JTN has leaped beyond its cable confines by signing a deal with Public Broadcasting Service stations, including KCET in Los Angeles and KOCE in Orange County, to air some of its programs.

  • JTN is launching a number of new programs, including "Jewish Celebrity Profiles," hosted by veteran writer-producer Saul Turteltaub; "New Jewish Cuisine," a gourmet kosher cooking series with chef Jeff Nathan; and "The 92nd Street Y Presents," with shows originating at the famous New York cultural and community center.

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