Don Imus, down on the farm?


The NY Times website is reporting that Don Imus, who will begin broadcasting on WABC-AM NYC in December, is in "serious" discussions with Omaha-based RFD TV, a satellite and cable channel aimed primarily at rural demos and seen in 30 million homes ( MSNBC simulcasted "Imus in the Morning" for 10 years. He was fired in April after making racially charged remarks.

No deal has been signed yet, according to the story. Over Labor Day weekend, RFD broadcast a one-hour documentary about Imus’ ranch in New Mexico, where he helps children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. As well, the special is being sold on DVD at Imus Ranch Foods’ website.

RBR observation: If Imus were to sign with RFD, he’d only be seen in big cities by viewers who had satellite service – not cable viewers, as there are no carriage deals in major DMAs. RFD may be a great fit for Imus right now – they could be the only network that’ll touch him at this stage; he has a good fit with rural America; and big cities may not be the best place for carriage now anyway. Needless to say, a deal with Imus would likely boost RFD’s carriage and be an entrée into more popular programming. Typically, smaller cable networks like HDTV and the old TNN have grown carriage and become mainstream beginning with one or two "anchor" shows getting signed.