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Saturday, November 1, 1997 Published at 09:03 GMT


BBC launches three pay TV channels

The new channels wil show classic BBC programmes like Pride and Prejudice

The BBC is launching three new pay television channels showing programmes from its archives to viewers with cable TV.

The channels are to be run by UKTV. It is a joint venture between the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and Flextech, a company which runs several cable and satellite channels.

No licence payers' money will go to UKTV but the BBC has said the venture will bring extra income which it can spend on new programmes.

The BBC's Media correspondent Torin Douglas said: "This is not the BBC's first venture into pay TV, but it could prove the most significant."

Five years ago, UK Gold was launched on cable and satellite TV showing drama and comedy from the BBC and ITV archives, interspersed with commercials.

That channel has now been absorbed into UKTV, alongside three new ones:

  • UK Arena, which will show BBC arts, drama and music programmes
  • UK Horizons, featuring natural history, science and travel
  • UK Style, offering cookery, gardening and lifestyle shows.

The BBC will sell its programmes to the new channels, as it does to overseas broadcasters. If they are successful, the BBC will take a share of the profits.

Initially, the three new channels will be seen in fewer than a million homes with cable television. Three million more, with satellite TV, will be able to receive some of the programmes, combined on a single channel.

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