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PBS sets U.K. launch

Channel to bow on BSkyB on Nov. 1

A PBS-branded channel will launch Nov. 1 in Blighty on paybox BSkyB, the U.K. channel’s general manager Richard Kingsbury revealed Thursday.

The channel will feature a “broad programming output reflecting that of its U.S. counterpart,” Kingsbury said. Among highlights of the launch sked is Ken Burns’ three-part, six-hour documentary “Prohibition” plus the “Nova” and “Frontline” strands.

PBS, which is still negotiating carriage with cabler Virgin, will be included in the entertainment section of Sky’s Electronic Program Guide.

PBS was recently given a broadcast license by communications regulator Ofcom. Kingsbury is attempting to secure the best possible position in Sky’s EPG.

Prominent positions are expensive, with Viacom reportedly recently shelling out millions of dollars to win better slots on Sky for its MTV and Comedy Central channels.

The U.K. channel is a joint venture between Canadian-born entrepreneur David Lyons and PBS Distribution, rights holder to the majority of PBS’s output.

“Many will have watched PBS shows acquired by other channels without realizing it,” Kingsbury said. “With the vast majority of PBS’s back catalog still to premiere in the U.K., there is a tremendous wealth of epic true stories available to craft a highly valued channel here.”

In Blighty, PBS is likely to appeal to the upscale crowd that watches BBC4, famed for its biopics, arts docus and music shows.

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