Sky wins contract to make 'Big Breakfast' successor

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The Independent Online

BSkyB HAS won the chance to revitalise Channel 4's early- morning schedules after paying £12m to produce a replacement for The Big Breakfast.

Rupert Murdoch's pay-TV company, in partnership with Princess Productions, emerged the victors from the lengthy tender process initiated by Channel 4 after a slump in The Big Breakfast"s viewing figures. It represents Sky's second incursion into terrestrial television in the past week, with the broadcaster winning the contract to provide early-morning news for Channel 5.

Four companies were shortlisted for the Channel 4 contract, including the current maker, Planet 24, with a revised version of the show. The Big Breakfast will end on 29 March next year after 10 years.

The new show, as yet unnamed, will occupy the same 7am to 9am slot. Sharon Powers, Channel 4 editor for the breakfast period, said: "We were thrilled with this pilot and felt it was a genuinely distinctive offer at breakfast time. The new show will include topical entertainment stories, news, weather and sport in a contemporary way, to arm the viewer with all the information they need for the day ahead."

Danielle Lux, head of entertainment and comedy, said she believed the show would provide a clear alternative to other breakfast programmes.

Tim Gardam, Channel 4's director of programmes, paid tribute to The Big Breakfast, which drew 1.5 million viewers when it began with Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin. He said: "It represented a breakthrough for television entertainment ... and created a style that has been widely imitated." Other presenters include Denise Van Outen and Johnny Vaughan.

On Monday Channel 5 announced it would cease taking its morning news from ITN and would instead broadcast Sky News bulletins. That will give Sky its first broadcast on terrestrial television.