After a stalled attempt last September, Fuse is finally ready to launch its daily music-news program "Fuse News." The network, which became property of Madison Square Garden in 2008, plans to air the first episode of the half-hour show on Feb. 6.
During the past five months, Fuse, which reaches 72 million households, has retooled the program, changing the anchor lineup--singer Ashanti is no longer onboard, for example--and replacing executive producer Zev Shalev with producing consultant/senior executive producer Rick Kaplan, previously president of MSNBC. "We thought, 'Let's get the absolute best newsman on the planet to come in and guide our efforts,'" MSG Networks president Mike Bair says.
Fuse has been rebranding itself since last year, soft-launching Fuse.tv last January and hiring 90 employees. Since September, the site has doubled its page views, as well as clicks on its YouTube channel, which has 2 million hits per month. Kaplan says "Fuse News" will capitalize on this success with brief on-air segments that can be accessed as more in-depth online clips. "We are joined at the hip with our Internet partners in-house," he says. "All of our segments will be going online."
The show intends to fill a void left by networks like MTV and VH1, which have almost entirely switched to reality-based programming.
"We occupy the space on our own," Bair says. "No one serves the music community the way we're going to do it. Not only do we have a 24/7 online operation, but we have a fully-dedicated operation that produces truly well-told, greatly researched stories."