Paramount sets U.K. channel

Viacom and its Nickelodeon team are joining forces with British Sky Broadcasting to launch a Paramount TV channel in the U.K. in November, according to sources.

The Paramount channel will broadcast via the Astra satellite in the evenings following Nickelodeon’s U.K. service, which is a 50/50 joint venture between Viacom and BSkyB.

The schedule will be drawn from Paramount’s TV library, comprising past and current comedy and drama series, many never before seen on British airwaves. But it will not include Paramount movies, which are licensed to BSkyB’s premium film channels.

It is understood that part of the budget has been set aside for British programming, although it is unclear whether it will be acquisitions from U.K. libraries or original product.

The service is being put together by Nickelodeon’s London-based international team, under managing director Jon Miller.

The channel does not yet have a name, and the deal between Viacom and BSkyB has not been formally signed. It is understood that Viacom will be the majority shareholder.

But with only seven weeks to go until the proposed launch date and so many operational details still to be fixed, it is far from certain that the channel will be ready to bow on schedule.

The Paramount channel is one of several satellite TV services that are due to join BSkyB’s Multichoice subscription package this fall. The Disney Channel, the Playboy Channel and the Sci-Fi Channel all are planning to launch British services, and the AP Dow Jones-backed European Business News will migrate its existing cable service onto Astra.

Unconfirmed reports also suggest BSkyB is contemplating an extra sports channel, Sky Sports Gold, airing rerun footage of old events, as well as some kind of history channel.

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