Gay TV eyes up power of pink pound

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The Independent Online

Media Correspondent

Britain will get its first gay and lesbian television channel next year, if an anonymous consortium of business men and women is successful in its licence application.

The Rainbow Television Network believes there is a lucrative market for "camp and kitsch" programming which will appeal not only to gay people, but those who are "gay-friendly".

The channel, believed to be planned for both cable and satellite, is the concept of an anonymous group of gay and straight business people who are all, according to a spokesman, very successful in their fields.

If their application for a 10-year licence is issued by the Independent Television Commission, the Rainbow Television Network hopes to start broadcasting next year between 6pm and 2am.

Emphasis will be on entertainment programmes, both commissioned and bought- in, and music, fashion, travel, drama and film. There will be a substantial live element, but no pornography.

Mike Johnson, spokesman for the consortium, said: "Some of it will be very camp and some extremely kitsch, but it will also be informative. We want to bring in new presenters, but they don't have to be gay."

The Rainbow Television Network believes its channel will be able to exploit the power of the so-called "pink pound", already the target of several dedicated newspapers and magazines.

It estimates there are up to seven million gays and lesbians in Britain, who are not properly served by the terrestrial, cable or satellite stations. The network is aiming for 250,000 subscribers in its first year.

"The gay community has the money. They rarely have children, go out more, go to the cinema, eat in restaurants and spend a lot on clothes," Mr Johnson said. "People are beginning to realise just how big gay spending power is."