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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Tuning in for naked news
Naked News
Naked News has a mainly male audience so far
A television current affairs programme featuring newsreaders who undress on camera has become a surprise success in Russia. Now a Canadian company hopes to do the same, as Katty Kay reports from Washington.

BBC News Online has a competitor. According to no lesser authority than Time magazine, the website Naked News "offers the best international coverage this side of the BBC".

Billed as the channel with nothing to hide, Naked News, is, as its name suggests, a news programme presented by naked news readers.

The channel covers politics, business, sport and entertainment - all naked.

Russian newsreader strips
Moscow's Naked Truth is cult viewing in Russia
For those of you who would like a little more spice with your daily news intake, Naked News might be for you.

And, it seems, for the six million other people who tune in every month. In the age of dot bomb, Naked News is defying the trend and going from strength to strength.

Viewer numbers have grown three-fold since the start of the year. This month, due to popular demand, the channel has added a man to its presenting team.

Lucas Tyler, 33, a former investment advisor for a Canadian bank, has just earned the curious distinction of becoming the world's first naked male news reader.

Naked News aspires to serious broadcasting.

"We never see it as a pornography site. Nudity is not sex," says company spokeswoman Kathy Pinckert.

Mixed signals

The channel garners its information from regular news wires and uses professionally trained writers and directors to produce the bulletins. None of the presenters however have any background in journalism.

I think people are watching it for the news not the nakedness

Dianne Foster, weather presenter
So what is it like to watch nude news?

The daily programme begins in pretty familiar territory. Presenter Carmen Russo stands in the studio dressed in a black suit and begins to read an item on Taiwanese arms sales. It looks serious enough.

But after a few moments it all gets very confusing. Half way through the Japanese election result Ms Russo is taking off her jacket.

On to the shooting of the Peruvian missionary plane and it's off with her pink lacy bra. And by the time we have finished the Middle East peace talks, Ms Russo is completely naked.

Maybe my brain lacks horsepower but I simply cannot concentrate on the intricacies of world affairs while watching a strip show.

News content

Weather presenter Dianne Foster, however, insists the news content is important.

"I think people are watching it for the news not the nakedness, after all you can get nakedness anywhere on the net," she says.

Ms Foster loves her job and accredits the channel's success to that classic combination of brains and beauty. The 31-year-old was working as a laser ophthalmic technician when she saw the advertisement recruiting for Naked News.

The closest she had come to broadcasting was a few acting classes . But she says she just loves the creative side of her new job.

Does the nudity faze her? Not as much as getting her slight lisp under control.

Now, with the introduction of a male presenter, Naked News hopes to attract more women to its audience.

At the moment 80% of the viewers are men. According to the company, they are tuning in primarily for the news. I guess they must be men with a better attention span than me.

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24 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Russia's naked news
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