CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF - TV3 picks the middle ground. A new Irish station knows exactly what viewers it is seeking, Jade Garrett says

By September, Ireland will have its first independent commercial television network, TV3. It will operate in direct competition with the existing RTE network but with considerable differences (Campaign, last week).

By September, Ireland will have its first independent commercial

television network, TV3. It will operate in direct competition with the

existing RTE network but with considerable differences (Campaign, last

week).



TV3 will be commercially funded with no financial backing from the

state.



The RTE network has enjoyed the dual position of funding through the

licence fee as well as advertising but has also had to adhere to its

public service remit, guaranteeing religious slots and Irish- language

programmes.



The TV3 programme policy will mean a 50:50 split between EU and non-EU

programming, with an overall 15 per cent of programmes being home

produced.



This total is likely to be met largely by the transmission of locally

relevant news, which will amount to ten hours of transmission time per

week.



CanWest Global Communications Corp is the largest shareholder in TV3,

with a 45 per cent stake. The broadcaster, one of the largest in Canada,

has interests worldwide. Aside from stations across Canada, it also owns

Channel Ten in Australia and Channels Three and Four in New Zealand. Pat

Kiely, director of sales at TV3, sees this as an advantage. ’It has

international expertise which will be counter-balanced by the fact all

TV3 directors are Irish,’ he says.



TV3 is positioning itself firmly between RTE’s two channels. RTE1 is

skewed to the older 45-plus audience and Net2 is directed towards a

four- to 24-year-old audience. TV3 will target 15- to 44-year-olds who

it sees as the most commercially desirable.



Programmes that have already been acquired include the latest Australian

and US soaps, Breakers and Love Boat - the Next Wave. A deal has also

been signed with Hallmark, the distributor of US mini-series including

Merlin, the highest-rated series on US network TV in the past five

years.



Mick Desmond, chief executive of Laser Sales, which will handle all

airtime sales out of the UK, says: ’We expect the channel to attract a

more discerning audience.’



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