LISBON, Portugal–Portugal’s first private television station went on air officially yesterday, ending a 27-year monopoly by two state-run stations.

The channel of the Sociedade Independente de Comunicacao, or SIC, led by Francisco Pinto Balsemao, began broadcasting with a short news bulletin.

Web offers mixture

The network, with a staff of 270, including 99 journalists, offers a mix of news, sports, racy Brazilian soaps, movies, sitcoms and commercials.

“Information is one of our big plus points… we don’t depend either on the state or on a religious (leaning),” said Pinto Balsemao, a former prime minister from the governing Social Democratic Party.

The government granted franchises on Feb. 6 to SIC, and to a Roman Catholic-backed group, Televisao Independente (TVI), headed by Bishop Jose Policarpo.

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