Satellite news 12.06.06


Sky considering launch of sixth sports channel

Sky is considering the launch of a sixth sports channel to add to its Sky Sports 1, 2 and 3 and Sky Sports Xtra and Sky Sports News channels. Media regulator Ofcom has awarded the broadcaster a new licence, which has been registered under the name Sky Sports 4, for a cable and satellite-only service and not for Freeview application, meaning Sky could not explore the option of broadcasting selected football Premiership matches or highlights on a free-to-air basis. Sky is reportedly keen to find ways to transmit some of its live Premiership football coverage on the Freeview platform, possibly through a pay-per-view method. In May month, Sky was awarded 92 Premier League matches a season as part of a new contract, with 46 matches a season awarded to Irish broadcaster Setanta for a three-year period starting with the 2007-2008 season.

Channel Five to launch two new TV channels

Channel Five's boss, Jane Lighting, has ended uncertainty about the broadcaster's digital strategy by saying it will launch two free-to-air digital channels this autumn. Five U.S., which will feature U.S. drama, comedy, films and kids' programs, and Five Life, a female-targeted channel offering drama, soaps, reality, factual and kids' programs, will be available on Sky, cable and Freeview, giving them a presence in more than 15 million British homes. Five parent RTL has provided a "substantial" budget enhancement, said Lighting, and the channel has launched a recruitment drive.

New crime channel in talks with BBC for content

Soon-to-launch Sky Digital channel the Crime & Investigation Network, is in talks with distributors of public awareness content including the BBC to bring in some up-to-the-minute real crime programming. It could mean that a show like Crimewatch UK is broadcast on the new channel.

New TV movies channel to launch in July

A new movie channel showing films "created purely for TV" is scheduled to debut on Sky on July 1. The 24 hour channel, to be called Movies 24, is set to showcase the best of recent made-for-TV films from major studios and independent producers. It will be available on Sky Digital channel 329 from June 26, but will officially launch its full schedule on July 1. Movies 24 will be part of the Sky variety mix package.

Sky News axes staff and two primetime shows

Sky News programmes The Sky Report and World News Tonight have both been axed as part of a major shake-up of the station's primetime schedule. A new show is being developed for the 8pm slot that will be news-driven and interactive, presented by Martin Stanford. As part of the shake-up, 17 staff will be leaving the broadcaster, according to The Guardian, including presenters Ginny Buckley, Juliette Foster, Richard Bestic, Jenny Percival and reporters Nicola Hill and Eve Richings. World News Tonight presenter James Rubin will continue to serve as a presenter of a series of special programmes on international affairs and Sky News correspondent David Chater announced he would be leaving the channel, although this is not linked to the changes.

Disney timeshift channel to relaunch on Sky

Disney Channel's one hour timeshifted service is to return to the Sky Digital channel line-up later this month. Disney Channel bosses have said Disney Channel +1 will appear on channel 614 while Playhouse Disney will move to channel 625 from June 26.

Channel 4 launches brand new radio service

Channel 4 has forged ahead with its move into the radio business with the launch of Internet radio service The broadcaster plans to apply for the new national digital radio multiplex that will be auctioned off later this year, but has gone ahead with the Internet radio launch first. The broadcaster will offer online radio spinoffs of such shows as Big Brother, Lost and chatshow Richard and Judy as well as giving viewers a sneak preview of forthcoming shows. Channel 4 Radio also has begun to commission original programs in music, comedy, news and current affairs.

Digital TV uptake continues to soar in UK

Almost three out of four households in the UK now has digital TV, according to new research from media regulator Ofcom, which shows 18.2 million homes now have digital TV sets, driven largely by free-to-air platform Freeview. The progress report for the first three months of the year found that digital take-up has grown "faster than expected" to 72.5% of the population compared with 69.5% at the end of 2005, and found that free-to-air digital viewing has exceeded analog viewing for the first time. Accelerating take-up is also forecast for the rest of this year, which has seen an extra 800,000 homes sign up by the end of March. Ofcom's full-year prediction for 2006 is 1.7 million new additions, but that forecast now looks likely to be exceeded before the end of the year.

Digital news in brief...

MOS Radio has launched on Sky channel 0198... PrimeTime has been removed from Sky channel 0132... A new audio service has started on Slky channel 0195 called RTI Radio and on 0196 callled VIP Radio... Two new adult channel have started on Sky channels 952 and 953 called Private 1 and Private 2... The founders of Sit-Up TV, the shopping channels broadcaster acquired last year by NTL/Telewest in a 194m deal, are stepping down from the firm and a new chief executive has been appointed... Lousie Benham, the acting deputy controller of UK cabsat channel LivingTV, has been upped to managing editor for LivingTV, LivingTV 2 and Freeview service FTN... Kids channels broadcaster Jetix Europe announced net profit for the first six months of the year was up 5% at 10.2 million while revenues rose 21% to 84.5 million... Radio Caroline is now all set to launch on the EPG this week.

Bravo buys up animation series from CN

Adult Swim, a US animation series that airs late at night on Cartoon Network in the US, is coming to the UK after Bravo bought the rights to the series. The male-targeted channel is introducing the programme in in a new late night post-pub slow aimed at 18-34 year-olds. Bravo plans to screen an animation showcase on Friday evenings, with Adult Swim transmitting late-night seven days a week.

BBC clinches deal for Premiership highlights

The BBC will pay 172 million for the rights to show a Premier League highlights package over the next three years. The broadcaster currently airs the show having won the rights three years ago from ITV for 105 million. It will continue to air the highlights package on Saturday nights in its current Match of the Day slot. The deal comes a month after Sky said it would pay 1.4 billion for rights to live matches for the Premier League. Setanta Sports has paid 314 million for a smaller package of rights.