Pounds 30m cable investment planned: Newspaper group to build television studio

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ASSOCIATED Newspapers is to spend around pounds 30m over the next few years on its new London cable television station, Channel One.

Sir David English, chairman of Associated, said most of the money would be spent on programming. But the group, which publishes London's Evening Standard newspaper as well as the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, also intends to build a television studio at a cost of several million pounds.

The London Interconnect Group (LIG), the consortium of six cable channels with franchises covering Greater London, confirmed yesterday's report in the Independent that it had picked Associated and its partner SelecTV, the programme maker responsible for hits such as Birds of a Feather and Lovejoy, to run the capital's first major cable channel.

Channel One, which is hoped to be up and running by early next year, aims to broadcast four to five hours of original news, entertainment and sport programming a day, as well as archive material. Sir David said Associated, which has an 80 per cent stake in the project, saw Channel One as the first step in establishing a fifth national channel.

Associated expects to break even on the investment 'before the end of the century'. Its revenues will depend on the number of homes taking cable, as well as advertising. About 250,000 London homes are expected to be cabled by the end of this year.

Bidding for the 10-year franchise for the new station was fierce, and Associated faced competition from Mirror Group Newspapers and the Carlton and London Weekend television stations.

They were thought to have offered more than Associated, but LIG admitted that the newspaper group's ability to promote the new channel in its papers was a strong factor.

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