Mirror Group buys cable TV channel

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Mirror Television, a Mirror Group subsidiary, is to buy Wire TV, Britain's first nationwide cable television channel, for an undisclosed sum. The deal will give Mirror Group's Live TV access to nearly all the UK's 4.5 million cable television subscribers when the channel launches in the summer.

Wire TV was set up by CCP-1, a consortium of cable operators including Nynex, US West and Comcast, but has struggled to provide a popular range of programming. Under the deal, Mirror TV is expected to end Wire's programming and replace it with that provided by Live TV.

Live TV will become an entertainment-led, round-the-clock channel, offering a mix of features and information together with news broadcasts. It has recruited Janet Street-Porter, the former head of BBC youth programming, to head the channel.

Mirror is already teaming up with Midland Independent Newspapers to produce local programming in Birmingham and has recently acquired a stake in Scottish Television.

A spokesman for the Cable Television Association said channels such as Live TV would deliver programmes aimed specifically at a UK audience rather than the US/international fare dominating cable schedules. "Wire TV was a courageous investment but the time is right to hand it on to real TV people who can develop and grow it," he said.

The deal does not include the Sportswire programming, which will be retained by CCP-1.