Virgin Media 'considers rolling news channel'

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UK cable operator Virgin Media is reportedly set to enter the rolling news channel market, using ITN as content partner. ITN produced the rolling news channel for ITV—its closure in January 2006 left two major players fighting for viewers: Sky News and BBC News 24.

Broadcast magazine said the channel was likely to be a 24-hour TV news channel though it could also launch on broadband. Virgin Media customers lost Sky News and other Sky basic channels in March after BSkyB and Virgin Media failed to agree a pricing formula that was acceptable to both sides.

Since then Virgin Media has announced the launch of Virgin 1, a general entertainment channel, and is launching a sports news channel with Irish sports broadcaster Setanta.

A source told Broadcast: "It makes sense that a news channel will be next, although they are hugely expensive to run and it is a crowded market place. [Virgin Media content chief] Malcolm [Wall] will not do it unless he is happy that it is the right thing to do."

Launched in 2000 as the ITN News Channel, and renamed the ITV News Channel when ITV purchased it in 2002, the loss-making news service was the UK's least-watched of the three rolling news channels, despite prominent cross promotion on ITV's flagship channel, ITV1, and strong reputation for its journalism.

Lovelace Consulting  |  07.09.2007

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