Public TV channel changes its focus

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 19, 2009 - 8:28 PM

The lifestyle-oriented "TPT Life" replaces the rerun-heavy schedule on Channel 17.

While other Twin Cities stations are preparing to make the change to digital TV, one is changing its identity.

KTCI, Channel 17, now calls itself TPT Life in a switch toward lifestyle-oriented programming that's best reflected during prime time. Those hours, formerly filled with repeats of popular programs on its big-sister station, KTCA, Channel 2, will now showcase cooking, travel, gardening and home improvement series. Many of the titles, including "Lidia's Italy," "Best Recipes in the World" and "Seasoned Traveler" had been offered on a digital-tier channel of Twin Cities Public Television, TPT Create, which has been eliminated.

The new branding is the latest effort to give KTCI a distinct identity, said TPT President Jim Pagliarini.

"The attitude when I first started here [in 1998] was that there was a risk in making Channel 17 too strong, because it might hurt Channel 2," he said. "We started challenging that assumption."

Channel 17 draws about two-thirds of Channel 2's audience. Pagliarini hopes the new strategy will narrow that gap.

"In the past, we were offering alternative ways for people to see prime-time shows they may have missed the previous night, but we're in a completely different time right now," he said. "More and more people have DVRs and recorders. They've become more sophisticated as program managers. Now we can offer something that's not as heavy as what's on Channel 2. For some people, it'll be a lot more entertaining with a degree of escapism."

The morning hours will feature the same lifestyle series running in prime time. That will be followed by a 12:30 to 2 p.m. block of "Tavis Smiley" and "Charlie Rose" repeats from the night before. If you're still looking for reruns of "American Experience," "Nova" and other public-television staples, you'll find them airing in the afternoon hours.

Children's programming will still run Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Weather updates and legislation coverage, which once ran during the daytime hours, now can be found on the digital-tier channels TPT WX and TPT MN, respectively. The switch went into effect Wednesday.

njustin@startribune.com • 612-673-7431

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