Rich Chicks Offer Their 77 Cents on Upscale TV: Susan Antilla

The year 2011 has already racked up some noteworthy “firsts.” Gold set a record of $1,500 an ounce. Hedge funds reached $2 trillion in assets. And the Federal Reserve released documents showing who borrowed from its discount window during the financial crisis.

Important developments, perhaps, but not even close to the groundbreaker announced earlier this month. Armed with a plan for “high-octane” television shows about fast cars, high-stakes gambling and thrill-seeking travel, Discovery Communications Inc. said it was creating “the first network devoted to the upscale men’s market.”

“Velocity,” as the television network will be called when it begins on Sept. 25, will be available in 40 million homes, and will target guys with incomes of $150,000 and up who are “men, not boys,” as an announcer on a promotional video put it amid the background din of revving engines.

Now I don’t have anything against upscale men, whose prodigious spending can’t help but benefit the less-fortunate little people who wax and buff all those limited-edition cars, or so the trickle-down theorizing supply-siders assure me. What I’m wondering, though, is why nobody has come up with a television network that caters to the wealthy women out there.

Chris Finnegan, a Discovery spokesman, said the company targeted the upscale male audience because it “currently is not being catered to.” I have to agree that an uncatered-to rich guy is a guy just aching for his own TV network.

Finnegan wasn’t able to direct me to anyone at Discovery who could address my query about why there was no network for all those uncatered-to rich women. A rich-chicks network is begging to be launched, though, preferably with the following key shows:

-- “The Healthy Attitude-Readjustment Show”: Left-wing-columnists got you down about your prospects for success? No worries, ladies. Tune in to the new reality for women who have tried education, hard work and maybe even a few employment-discrimination lawyers, but still can’t match the salaries of guys doing the same job. There are women’s groups who can help you see it all in a new light.

I’m proposing a prime-time show that draws from the wise counsel of groups like the Independent Women’s Forum, which describes itself on its website as pushing for free markets and “individual responsibility.” Don’t get put off that its emeritae board includes Midge Decter, the author of “The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation.” We’re talking TV with potential: Can’t you just see an inaugural episode where the gals rescue their bras from the inferno, cash their paychecks of 77 cents for each dollar a man makes, and thank their lucky stars for the wonders of the free market?

-- “The What’s Your Problem? Show” will make it easy for women to move on with their lives. You will never tune in here to learn about the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey that examined 28 job categories and couldn’t find one where full-time working women were making what men made. Leave it to the nuts at the National Organization for Women to whine about that data, which revealed that women in finance and insurance pocket 62 cents for every 100 cents a man makes.

The chipper “What’s Your Problem?” will focus on the truth as exposed in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Independent Women’s Forum Managing Director Carrie Lukas on April 12. The economic downturn “has exposed as ridiculous” claims by feminists that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy, she wrote, citing unemployment figures a percentage point higher for men than for women. As for any wage gap, it’s shrinking -- even reversing -- she writes: Helped by their educational achievements, women among “single, childless urban workers” aged 22 to 30 earn 8 percent more than men.

“What’s Your Problem?” has no place for the likes of Mariko Chang, the author of “Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It.” Chang says the young women pursuing those degrees have fewer government grants to assist them, and are thus taking on unusually high debt that they will find hard to repay. But who asked her, anyway?

-- “The No Wealth, No Worries! Show”: Chang says women fail to turn income into wealth because they tend to land in jobs that are skimpy on the fringe benefits men are more likely to get, such as retirement contributions, paid sick days as well as life and health insurance. So, “No Wealth, No Problem!” will help viewers address key lifestyle questions. Check your local listings for winning episodes including “Thrift-Store Shopping Strategies” and “What to Watch When You Have Only Basic Cable.”

With the demographics and the programming thus mapped out, it can only be a matter of time before Discovery will see the light and gear up for a winner of a network for rich women. I can even offer some guidance to get the idea on the fast track.

Throw together a pilot and call it “How to Find Women (Not Girls) to Appoint to Your Company’s Board.” Set up a private screening for the 11 guys, 0 women, who serve as Discovery’s directors. See if anything happens. Don’t hold your breath.

(Susan Antilla is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

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