MTV Networks Tuesday said it plans to launch a new entertainment cable channel catering to gay viewers, in a bid to snatch a piece of the action from from successful gay-themed shows such as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "The L Word."

The music television network, a unit of Viacom Inc. (VIA), plans to launch the channel, called LOGO (search), on basic cable by February 2005.

"We want LOGO to be the first stop for gay and lesbian people," Judy McGrath, MTV Networks President told reporters.

The announcement caps off months of deliberations over launching a separate channel, as marketers salivate over the growing and potentially lucrative group with a disposable income worth up to $500 billion.

MTV executives said programming will be comprised of about 25 percent originally developed shows, with the remainder coming from outside sources.

The network will also collaborate with other Viacom units including CBS News, MTV and VH1 for programming.

Executives declined to elaborate on its slate of shows, which it plans to do this summer at the annual television critics summer tour.

MTV executives said they expect to launch the network in about 10 to 14 million homes in February, and has already received a distribution commitments from Time Warner Cable in the New York area and Adelphia Communications Corp in Los Angeles.

Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable operator, is also in discussions to possibly carry the network, MTV executives said.

A Comcast spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment.

The launch could complicate matters for parent company Viacom as it defends against indecency charges by the Federal Communications Commission (search) related to radio broadcasts of the Howard Stern show.

"We don't think it's indecent," said Tom Freston, MTV Networks Chairman and CEO, regarding the new network. "We're not using profanity, we're not using sex. This will be mainstream programming you're seeing everywhere else with the exception it will be targeting the lesbian and gay communities."

He added, "We think it's a legitimate and growing community."