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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 09:28 GMT
Oprah gives TV girl power
Oprah is one of Oxygen's founders
TV chat show queen Oprah Winfrey has launched a 24-hour television and internet service in the US aimed exclusively at women.

The channel is called Oxygen. It has a programming budget of more than $400m (250M). And along with Oprah - one of the station's founders - the channel has the support of big name companies such as America Online.

Despite the profusion of cable television companies in the US, Oxygen's founders maintain that none of the existing channels provides a service uniquely tailored to women.

Aiming high

Oxygen will target independent-minded, high-achieving women and have a programme schedule which is designed to fit in with their busy lives.

Whilst previous women's programming has tended to dwell on subjects such as cooking, make-up and fashion, Oxygen will focus on issues such as parenting and personal finance.

The Oxygen website - its founders say it is the first of its kind
Other programmes will include an evening talk show hosted by actress Candice Bergen, as well as yoga, sports and comedy programmes.

Oprah herself will have her own show called Oprah Goes Online. The title indicates another feature of Oxygen - its strong alliance with the internet.

The channel has also launched its own website and aims to take full advantage of its potential.

At the bottom of the TV screen, information will pop up to point viewers towards their PCs to find out more online about what they are watching.

Competitive market

But even though it has a string of high-profile financial backers, including the American Broadcasting Company and the telephone company AT&T, Oxygen may find it tough going in the most competitive television marketplace in the world.

With literally hundreds of channels on offer, it can be difficult for a new one to convince a cable company to carry its programmes.

Oxygen will start with an audience of just 10 million homes and no distribution in New York and much of Los Angeles.

Both cities are major sources of advertising revenue.

But it is hoping that by closely integrating its television programming with its internet sites, it can boost revenue through online advertising.

See also:

23 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Oprah admits she 'misused' TV
18 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Oprah film stays away from West End
02 Feb 00 | UK
Women on the web
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