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Sky expands interactive services, sets launch date for business channel

Sky News Business, Sky News’ upcoming business news channel, is set to launch in the first week of January, 2008. The new channel will be launched in the quiet holiday period in order to avoid any teething issues and will show original content from 5.45am to midnight. Content from its US counterpart, Fox Business, will fill the remainder of the channel’s schedule

The local lineup is set to include a number of niche programs including Early First Business, Trading Day, Market Day, Business Night as well as personal finance programs Your Money and Your Call. An untitled half-hour program will also be launched in conjunction with The Australian’s business section (owned by Sky’s one-third shareholder News Corporation).

The channel has been in planning for the last two years, although according to Sky News’ chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos “”…we have an eight-week window to turn the channel from a piece of paper to live-to-air. It’s a huge undertaking to launch a new channel, more so because so much of the content is unique.””

Much like its parent channel, Sky News Business will place a strong emphasis on live coverage – including company anouncements and annual meetings. “”Live is compelling,”” Mr Frangopoulos said. “”Live is the one thing you can’t time-shift. You want the information now, not being played back off a hard disk three hours later.””

He went on to say that the new channel would have a niche appeal, among a broad audience: “”That is what the media is becoming,”” he said. “”It’s a series of niche audiences that over time will become even more focused on even smaller niches.

“”We will have a big AB demographic, but there will be information on this channel for the broadest demographic we can reach. “”

The channel will be made available on subscription television platforms Foxtel Digital, Austar and Optus, as well as Vodafone and Telstra’s (also a shareholder) mobile networks in Australia.

Further expansion plans for Sky News include four new interactive business channels (including new fullscreen services), as well as a doubling of the main channels existing services – taking the total number of interactive streams (only available on providers within Australia) to 20.

Mr Frangopoulos also indicated a desire to expand overseas: “”At an appropriate point we will review our opportunities overseas,”” he said. “”We still think we are uniquely placed to be a strong voice for Australia throughout the region and the world.”” The network lost out the the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in applying for a five-year contract to run the Australia Network (a Department of Foreign Affaris and Trade-backed television service aimed at the Asia-Pacific region).

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22914747-30540,00.html

Updated: Thursday 13 December 2007