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Discovery unveils digital TV nets

Bouquet launching into orbit Oct. 1

LONDON — Discovery Networks Europe has unveiled three digital TV channels for the U.K.: Discovery Sci-Trek, Discovery Travel and Adventure and Discovery Civilizations.

The channels are part of a previously announced bouquet of seven Discovery services exclusive to satcaster BSkyB’s Sky Digital platform, which is due to launch Oct. 1 (Daily Variety, July 31).

Discovery has also set Sept. 1 as the date for the launch of Animal Planet — one of its joint venture channels with the BBC — on analog cable and satellite in Britain. At present, the channel is only available in Europe in Scandinavia and some eastern European countries.

Sci-Trek and Travel and Adventure, however, are still working titles. Sci-Trek, effectively a British version of Discovery Science, may in fact revert to its U.S. name in order to keep it in line with other markets.

All of Discovery’s U.K. channels will air 18 hours per day from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. The flagship Discovery Channel will also be repeated on a separate feed as a “plus one hour” service from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Discovery is currently available 10 hours a day.

Discovery is one of the few success stories among niche TV channels in the U.K. Joyce Taylor, Discovery’s managing director for Europe, likened the services to a “magazine rack” and is naturally optimistic about their chances.

“We see a fairly swift changeover from analogue to digital over the next couple of years,” Taylor said.

Taylor added that other Discovery services were in the pipeline once digital television begins to take hold in Britain.