Media / Talk of the Trade: Gold hunters

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ONE OF the more bizarre aspects of yesterday's launch of UK Gold, the BBC/Thames satellite channel starting in November, came when David Elstein, programme director of Thames Television, described the joy of sitting down at BBC Television Centre with the top staff at BBC 1 and BBC 2, previously his arch rivals for audiences, to devise an entertainment-based national channel made up of pooled repeats.

In this they were helped by the combined scheduling staff of the BBC and Thames, who are usually plotting to outwit each other. 'There is a lot of commercial instinct at the BBC,' he remarked. All of this was done without the boring constraints of having to put in any minority public service stuff, such as Panorama or news. 'We have a rational, viewer-friendly schedule which neatly finesses with what BBC 1 and ITV do,' he said. This means Neighbours at 5pm (rather than 5.30pm on the BBC) and EastEnders at 8pm. Richard Dunn, chief executive of Thames Television, which lost its franchise to Carlton, says the channel is Thames's insurance policy, rather than revenge on ITV. Revenge will come if it wins the franchise for the new Channel 5.