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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Disney plans Freeview TV channel
ABC broadcasts police drama series NYPD Blue in the US
Walt Disney is launching a UK version of its ABC TV network, which broadcasts NYPD Blue, the soap General Hospital and the forthcoming Wife Swap.

ABC1 will launch on 27 September on the Freeview digital TV platform, with plans to expand onto pay-TV services.

It will start broadcasting from 0600 to 1800 BST, and will eventually run 24 hours a day.

Channel chief John Hardie said ABC1 would be aimed at "an underserved British audience".

US re-makes

Disney said it would reveal the full programme line-up at the end of August, but stated that the drama Once and Again - created by The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick - would be included in the UK schedule.

ABC owns 10 television stations across the US, with a total of 3.5 million digital cable subscribers.

In the US, ABC broadcasts series including Extreme Makeover and its own version of the UK quiz Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

The network's news service is currently providing 24-hour coverage of the presidential election campaign.

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
Regis Philbin presents ABC's version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
ABC is due to screen a US version of Channel 4 series Wife Swap this autumn.

"In its first phase, ABC1 will champion an underserved British audience - people who are busy at home during the day," said Mr Hardie.

There will be no advertisements during the first few months of the schedule, but eventually Disney plans to sell advertising time.

The ABC1 launch, along with November's launch of ITV3, will boost Freeview's channel roster ahead of BSkyB's launch of its own free-to-air satellite platform this autumn.

Along with the BBC, BSkyB partially owns Freeview, but it hopes users of its as-yet-unnamed free satellite platform will eventually become paying Sky customers.

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