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Kay Koplovitz: The Woman Behind Usa

August 09, 1992|MICHELE WILLENS

From its beginning 12 years ago, USA has had one guiding force: Kay Koplovitz, a smart-looking visionary and former science major. Early on, she saw the potential of a cable network and has since become a much-admired business executive.

Although she has kept the company in the black from year one, Koplovitz says the tough years were 1982-85, when so many other cable networks started up and the competition stiffened. She was advised that she'd be safer going with a single-niche programming philosophy--such as MTV's or ESPN's--but Koplovitz wanted to give something to everybody.

"Yes, it's much easier for identification purposes to be all one thing," she says, "but we've just worked harder at promoting ourselves and I think it's worked."

Actually, Koplovitz now has a niche to play with, too. Earlier this year, USA paid between $75 million and $100 million for the Sci-Fi Channel, a basic-cable network that will be launched Sept. 24 with 10 million subscribers.

Koplovitz, who has turned down offers from other networks to jump ship, says she's exceedingly satisfied with where USA is today, though that's not to be confused with complacency: "I'm never where I want to be, because whenever I get there, I want to do more. But it's a wonderfully successful, lean company where every person's decision counts."

Koplovitz is completely unapologetic about the reputation of USA movies--"they're not elevating but they're enticing B-movies"--though she welcomes the occasional leap upward. Right now, for example, USA is developing a film about a heroic young woman who tires to adopt a Romanian baby.

"But those will be additions, not replacements," she says with a wink.

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