Channel 4 adds Four

Film, pay TV outlets to bow on SkyDigital

LONDON — Channel 4 plans to launch three film channels in time for Christmas and bow its general entertainment pay TV channel, E4, mid-January.

C4’s current pay presence consists of arthouse movie channel Film Four. To come is F4 World, dedicated to foreign films, and F4 Extreme, a channel for controversial pics. The fourth channel will simply be Film Four time-shifted by one hour.

The movie channels are expected to first appear on satcaster BSkyB’s SkyDigital platform. Negotiations for E4’s carriage, however, are understood to be furthest advanced with NTL and Telewest, the U.K.’s cable companies. C4 is also in talks with BSkyB and terrestrial platform ONdigital.

Minority stake for BSkyB

It is believed that BSkyB is planning to take a minority stake in E4, but the word at the moment is that those discussions have stalled.

E4 will be home to the first British runs of “Friends,” “ER,” “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City.” Homemade programming will include “Banzai,” a Japanese-style game show with interactive elements.

Film Four has proved a success for C4. The premium channel is now thought to have approximately 400,000 subscribers.

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