Virgin launches branded free-to-air channel

Virgin Media TV is launching its first Virgin-branded free-to-air television channel, Virgin 1. The general entertainment channel will be available on Freeview, cable and Sky from the autumn.

The cable company’s plans follow news that media regulator Ofcom is to begin consulting on rival BSkyB’s plans for a pay-TV service on Freeview.

Virgin 1 will combine commissioned and acquired programming with user generated content and selected shows from Virgin Media’s pay channels, such as Bravo, Trouble and Living. Catch-up programming, previews and exclusive content will be available via broadband and Virgin Media on-demand.

VMTV managing director Jonathan Webb says he wants both Virgin 1 and Living to be in the top ten TV channels by switchover, which completes in 2012.

He adds: “Virgin 1 will shake up multi-channel and free to air TV, and start liberating viewers from the linear schedule.”

Meanwhile, Celia Taylor has been appointed director of programming for the channel alongside her responsibilities for Bravo, Bravo 2, Challenge and Trouble. She will report to Claudia Rosencrantz, director of television.

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