ITV2 launches in U.K.

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LONDON--The U.K.'s first new channel since 1955 from commercial TV network ITV began transmission this week.

ITV2 is to be a free-to-air, national service with no regional opt-outs. A general entertainment channel aimed at a slightly younger audience than ITV, it will feature a host of specially commissioned programs - comprising 30 new titles and 1,100 hours - as well as top quality sports and additional oppor- tunities to view the best of ITV's recent programs.

Unveiling the new service, ITV Director of Programming Brian Barwick outlined: "Next month ITV moves more substantially into the era of `new television.' ITV2, with its younger skew, will sit comfortably as the younger brother or sister of the senior ITV channel. It'll still be `TV from the heart' - but skipping to a younger beat."

ITV2 will be available throughout England and Wales on digital terrestrial television (DTT), which viewers can receive via a set- top box or a new integrated TV set. It will also be available on the analogue cable network operated by Cable & Wireless Communications. Scotland and Northern Ireland will have their own separate services, and GMTV2 will launch as a sister service early next year.

Andrew Chowns, ITV2's Project Director told the audience: "Independent research suggests half a million homes will be able to receive ITV2 via digital transmissions by the end of next year, with between five and six million homes predicted by the year2003."

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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