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Tuesday, December 8, 1998 Published at 10:26 GMT


ITV stretches its digits

ITV2 is aiming at younger viewers

Pop star Billie and footballer-turned-film star Vinnie Jones launched ITV's new digital channel on Monday.

Around 2.5 million Britons will be able to tune into ITV's baby brother.

[ image: The ITV network is pinning a lot of hope on ITV2]
The ITV network is pinning a lot of hope on ITV2
ITV2 went on air 43 years after the first independent television channel hit the screens.

But this time it was far lower profile. The new channel is available only through cable or digital television and is expected to have only a fraction of ITV's market share.

Michael Barrymore, Trevor McDonald, Samantha Janus, Ronan Keating from Boyzone and chatshow host Jerry Springer were among those featured in an hour-long showcase of forthcoming programmes.

Younger target audience

The BBC's Torrin Douglas: "New entertainment shows will be aimed at a younger audience"
ITV bosses, who have big hopes for the new channel, are billing it as a "general entertainment channel aimed at a slightly younger audience than ITV".

Although the channel will be free it is only available on digital terrestrial and cable services.

[ image: Sport and repeats will be supplemented by new programmes]
Sport and repeats will be supplemented by new programmes
Critics say much of ITV2's airtime will be shared with ITV - such as live sport - but ITV has commissioned about 1,100 hours of specially commissioned programmes.

Amid a diet of game shows and "teenage magazine" programmes there will also be a fitness programme presented by Gabby Yorath and a current affairs show, Who? What? Why? fronted by newsreader John Suchet.

The News At Ten presenter has also been rewarded with his own chatshow series and in his first guest is comedian Lenny Henry.

[ image: ITV2 will be a mainstay of digital television]
ITV2 will be a mainstay of digital television
Soap addicts will be able to catch up with Coronation Street and Emmerdale at 2200 most evenings.

ITV2 is one of the jewels in the crown of the new 30-channel digital terrestrial service being marketed by pay TV company ONdigital.

There are currently only a few digital terrestrial customers because set-top boxes - which translate the analogue signal into digital - only went into the shops a month ago.

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