Nine plans new stand-alone chnl

Australia’s Nine Network is planning a second general entertainment channel for its new standard-definition digital-terrestrial service, likely to launch in the second half of 2009.

Nine’s chief executive, David Gyngell, condirmed to The Australian newspaper that the company would offer a new stand-alone DTT channel, rather than a time-shifted version of the main channel, as some reports had claimed. Having lost its number one ranking to Seven Network, Nine needs to make cost savings, and a stand-alone channel is likely to be more expensive than a time-shifted service. But Gyngell said that time-shifting, while it may have a place as part of the new channel, would not be a strong enough basis for a whole channel.

Rival Seven also has plans for a general entertainment service, but Ten Network has struck out in a new direction. Its new standard-definition sports channel, One, is officially launching this Friday with the start of the new Australian Rules Football (AFL) season.

Australia’s commercial free-to-air networks have been allowed by legislation to launch new standard-definition channels only since the start of the year. All three already have high-definition multichannels, although much of the content on these is the same as on the main networks.