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Verizon's FiOS Goes 'Hyperlocal'

Verizon has launched FiOS1, a channel that will provide local weather, traffic, news, sports and community features to FiOS TV subscribers in Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland.

FiOS1 is Verizon's first owned and operated television channel and is available on Channel 1 in the FiOS TV lineup.

Michelle Webb, executive producer and general manager of FiOS1 said, "Verizon will offer its subscribers a unique and exciting local TV experience and is committed to delivering dynamic local stories that will touch everyone."

FiOS1 will reach out to the community in its new program called "Push-Pause," a Verizon original production in collaboration with HyperLocal News Productions. Push-Pause features hyperlocal news and community stories shot by trained citizen video journalists who live in the area.

Michael Rosenblum, head of HyperLocal News Productions said the goal of hyperlocal is to "broadcast stories that average people really are concerned about."

Rosenblum, who built New York's 24-hour news network NY1, trains the citizen video journalists on the latest digital camcorders. One of the citizen VJs, Aaron Rockett, shoots on a P2 Panasonic HD camera and produces segments on his laptop. FiOS1 currently has five citizen video journalists working in the Washington D.C. area, and it also plans to invite viewers to submit their own local community stories to include in the program.

Verizon spokesperson Sharon Cohen-Hagar said, "FiOS1 will not only have information and features about the Washington metro area, it will have information about the communities in the region."

Webb, a former ABC news producer, said the plan is to have periodic traffic, weather and news reports in the morning followed by Push-Pause and then sports in the evening.

FiOS TV has formed a partnership with WUSA9, the Gannett-owned local CBS affiliate, which will create the news content; news headlines from The Associated Press will be scrolled at the top and bottom of the screen. In addition a new program called "Limbo Local" will allow viewers to use their cell phones to text bids for items throughout the day.

FiOS1 will feature 20 hours of sports programming a week, including college and high school games, as well as professional baseball games. Verizon has partnered with Georgetown University Athletics and George Mason University to cover its sporting events and feature student athletes.

Verizon said it would launch similar channels in other markets this year, but Webb would not specify which ones. FiOS TV is also available in California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The FiOS fiber-optic service includes all-digital video and music channels, hi-def channels and video-on-demand. According to the company, there are about 207,000 FiOS TV customers with service available to 2.4 million households.

In the Washington, D.C. market, FiOS is currently available in the Maryland counties of Anne Arundel, Howard, Prince Georges and Montgomery, plus the towns/cities of Annapolis, Laurel, and Bowie. Virginia counties include Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon and Prince William, as well as the cities of Leesburg, Dumfries, Herndon and Falls Church.