AOL announced yesterday that it is introducing a slate of programs positioning it as a broadband television network.

That seems a very generous description of the venture, given the nature of the programming AOL is presenting. It consists largely of horrible-sounding "reality" shows and commercial tie-in projects.

The AOL slate sounds awful even in comparison with the current debased condition of the broadcast TV networks and the ghastly inanity of much cable/satellite TV today. (Networks such as Current, Fuse, and Fox Reality have taken narrowcasting to the extreme of presenting programs virtually no sane person can bear watching.)

Regarding AOL’s announcement, Variety reports:

Slate will include projects from reality giant Endemol USA, production shingle Telepictures and a continued relationship with Mark Burnett Prods., which produced AOL’s "Gold Rush" skein.

Company also announced a competition initiative with DreamWorks Animation for upcoming "Shrek the Third," in which AOL will unspool a number of movie-related games that will be produced by Burnett along with AOL and DWA.

Many of the programs skirt the line between interactive gaming and nonscripted programming; they can be categorized as either reality television with consumer participation or an online game with video components.

One of the most ambitious TV-style programs is "iLand," an online community in which players compete for dominance of a group.

Series, which is produced by Endemol USA and set to air in the second quarter of 2008, will eventually spill into the real world as contestants move to an island and try to assert power there; those competitions, hosted by thesp Brooke Burns, will be broadcast online.

AOL also is teaming with sister Time Warner production shingle Telepictures, which supplies Warners distribution with content, for a tie-in to "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Online programming will draw from user-generated content about viewers’ hometowns; some content will make its way to the syndie show.

And it will continue its Burnett collaboration with a new edition of "Gold Rush," titled "Gold Rush Goes Hollywood," focusing on industry and celebrity trivia. Series is set to bow in the summer.

That sounds truly horrifying.