ITV plans launch of fourth digital station to air oldies

LONDON - ITV is planning to launch a digital channel named ITV Gold. Granada's chairman Charles Allen announced the plans at this week's TV United 2003 conference but gave no further details.

It is expected that ITV Gold will be launched following the merger between Carlton and Granada. It will use the two companies' back catalogues of programmes, including programmes such as 'Inspector Morse' and 'Prime Suspect'.

ITV Gold will compete with channels including UK Gold, which shows classic programmes from the BBC's archive. It will become the fourth ITV channel, after ITV1, ITV2 and the ITV News Channel.

It is unclear what will happen to Granada's joint venture with BSkyB, Granada Sky Broadcasting. GSB broadcasts classic Granada shows such as 'Poirot', 'On the Buses' and 'Jeeves & Wooster'.

Allen said increasing the multichannel offering was part of his vision for ITV. He added that ITV has become customer-focused and has a clear schedule structure.

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