Julie Burchill recruited in bid to lure viewers to upmarket Sky One

In the face of increasing competition from Freeview's digital channels ITV2, E4 and BBC3, Sky One has admitted it makes more sense to entice viewers to subscribe to BSkyB's pay platform rather than chase bigger audiences.

Following the popularity of her recent investigation into "chavs", Burchill is returning to Sky One to discuss reality television with John Humphrys and Germaine Greer. In other documentaries, Morgan, former editor of the Daily Mirror, investigates the phenomenon of teenagers wearing "hoodies"; Liddle argues that men are genetically programmed to be unfaithful and Bob Geldof's daughter Peaches meets American teenagers.

Other highlights of the autumn's schedule include Weeds, a US sitcom branded "Desperate Housewives on drugs", the third series of cosmetic surgery thriller Nip/ Tuck, which Sky One is showing exclusively, and the 17th season of The Simpsons, featuring a guest appearance by Ricky Gervais. Giving the channel a more British feel than it has previously enjoyed, household names including Griff Rhys Jones, Joanna Lumley and Vic Reeves appear in a new wildlife series, Final Chance to Save, attempting to rescue endangered species.

In multichannel homes, ITV2 has overtaken Sky One, attracting a 1.96 per cent share of the audience this year, compared with Sky's 1.95 per cent.

Sky executives insist they are not concerned by the rise in viewing figures enjoyed by their rivals, pointing out Sky One is not available in many of the six million homes that have Freeview, the free digital service.

Sky has 7.8 million subscribers, 400,000 more than a year ago.

Dawn Airey, chief executive of Sky Networks, said: "Free-to-air channels probably will overtake us in audience share. That's not our business. If I just wanted share, Sky One would be different - I would put on films and football."

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