All Jews, all the time

atlanta | With Al Jazeera set to launch a satellite channel in English in 2005, and a host of other Arabic television programs proliferating on cable and the Internet, members of the Jewish community are increasingly interested in establishing a 24-hour television network that would polish the tarnished image of Jews and Israel in the media.

“The need for Jewish media is on the mind of a lot of people, and part of an ongoing national conversation,” said Jay Kaiman, director of Jewish philanthropy for the Marcus Foundation.

And with the recent announcement by the National Rifle Association that it will soon unveil a news company to produce programs for the radio, Internet and possibly television, Jews may begin to ask aloud “why we don’t do the same,” said Ron Slotin, president of Atlanta’s Jewish TV, which airs monthly half-hour programs on Sunday nights on Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters.

In fact, over the last decade, five different initiatives have come across the desk of Jim Rutledge, who launched CNN with Ted Turner and in 1991 conceived Court TV. “All had their shortcomings,” Rutledge said.

“One group had competing religious concerns. One wanted to mix evangelism with Judaism to capture the Christians. Others had money but no content or a CEO who believed in their plans.”

Their common challenge, he added, was one of numbers. The Jewish market is small; making up just 1.7 percent of the U.S. population, there are simply not enough Jewish cable subscribers to sustain the $25 million annual operating budget of a 24-hour news network.

Kaiman, too, has seen a number of people “explore the possibility of

using the media to promote Jewish content.” But initiatives never got off the ground because “it’s not economically feasible.”

Blue & White TV is the brainchild of Amos Kamil and Richard Prince, both of New Jersey. Ardent Zionists, the pair has assembled what they term a “credible” management team to launch the channel.

Prince said that other networks would want programming that reflects both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. “Someone will always ask about the Palestinians. We won’t need to ask anyone’s permission at Blue & White. Whatever we want will get on the air.’