Bunhill: Live Wire

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The Independent Online
COMING to you from an ordinary shop-front in a shopping centre in Bristol is a new national television network, Wire TV. This might not compare with BBC Television Centre, but don't be fooled: Wire is a serious venture with serious money behind it.

'It's a cable-TV-only channel funded by cable operators,' says Joyce Taylor, chief executive of United Artist Programming, which is running the channel.

The cable firms - Comcast, Nynex, Southwestern Bell and the like - have put pounds 21m into the venture, which will launch on 4 May. It will broadcast from 1pm to 11pm each day - with a mix of sport, local news, phone-ins, agony aunts and the inevitable soap operas - and go to all the 600,000 homes in the UK that take cable TV.

Taylor says the low-key launch is true to Wire TV's identity. 'It will be like a radio station on TV. There will be continued open lines for viewers to phone in. All that elitist broadcasting is out of the window.'

So, initially, will be advertising. There will be two minutes an hour of local ads - the sort of thing you get at the cinema promoting the local tandoori - but nothing else until the station is established.

But what about the location? A bit downmarket, eh? 'There is no point in building fancy offices with fountains and marble halls,' says Taylor. 'There are only going to be 600,000 viewers.'

Other TV moguls take note.