Cable channels face review cull

The UK’s two largest cable companies are planning to axe low-performing TV channels over the next two weeks to make room for new channels.

TeleWest and Nynex, which account for 500,000 cabled homes in the UK and pass 6 million households, are both holding programming reviews that could lead to up to six channels losing their transmission rights.

According to industry sources, channels such as CNN, CNBC, NBC Superchannel and European Business News are included in the review. Even The Family Channel, whose new owner Flextech is a subsidiary of TeleWest parent TCI, is at risk.

“We are reviewing all the channels we carry,” says a Nynex spokeswoman. “There has been an explosion in the number available. It is possible some may be culled.”

Nynex has signed a deal to carry the two new Granada Sky Broadcasting channels and a host of other new channels is on the way. These include: Rapture, the teenagers’ channel; Tara, aimed at Irish ex-patriots; two weather channels; and Rainbow TV, aimed at the gay community.

Previously, cable channels have wrangled over how much to pay under-performing channels for their programming – there was a dispute this summer between Videotron and UK Living.

“It is exactly like supermarkets delisting under-performing lines,” says an industry source. “Many cable channels register no viewers. They dump library rubbish on the operators who then have to pay for it.”

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