Chanel No 5 first advertiser on Channel 5

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LONDON -- Channel 5, Britain's third national commercial TV network launches on Easter Sunday, March 30, amid concerns that large areas of the country will not be able to receive a proper signal for the station.

The station has been forced to organize a home visit program to retune home video recorders and cable and satellite decoders which could be affected by transmissions on frequencies allocated to the new service.

Over nine million homes have been visited so far, with the costs of the retuning program estimated to be up to $244m. Station bosses are confident they can avoid a PR disaster at launch which may be caused by the remaining potential for interference.

French fragrance Chanel No 5 kicks off advertising on the channel, while commercial rivals ITV and Channel 4 have boosted their early April schedules to undermine launch viewing figures for the station.

Agencies predict the station may only achieve ad revenues of $16m in April, compared with $236m for leading British network ITV and around $73m for Channel 4 which commands a share of viewing of just over 10%.

But U.K. media buyers are confident that Channel 5 can achieve its own prediction of winning 5% audience share of U.K. viewing by the end of the year, on the back of a modest first year programming budget of $228m-$244m.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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