New BBC channel draws just 11,000 digital viewers

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The Independent Online

The BBC declared yesterday that the launch of its new culture television channel had been a success, despite attracting only 11,000 digital viewers on its first night.

BBC4, whose controller, Roly Keating, promised to deliver an "arts powerhouse", gained a mere 0.18 per cent share of the digital market during five hours' transmission on Saturday. Viewing figures were boosted by a simultaneous broadcast on BBC2 that attracted about a million viewers. But the corporation admitted that, despite a sustained promotional campaign, the BBC2 audience was no larger than for a normal Saturday. One analyst said that while the initial figures appeared "terrible", the main test would be whether the target audience of BBC2 viewers migrated in the coming months.

The BBC invested heavily for the inaugural night, which featured a film on Salvador Dali, a documentary on the installation artist Michael Landy and a Robert Hughes film on Goya. Promoted under the slogan "Everybody needs a place to think", the channel aims to provide the best in contemporary documentary, music, theatre and international cinema.

* The BBC launches Radio 6 Music today, its first new national music station in more than 30 years. The station, which will feature critically acclaimed artists with less than mass-market appeal, can be heard on digital radio and through digital satellite television sets and the internet.