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PBS sets November launch date for UK channel

American public broadcaster PBS has confirmed its much anticipated UK launch will take place on 1 November.

Initially, the new channel will be carried by DTH operator Sky. Virgin Media could follow suit, depending on the outcome of ongoing negotiations between the US broadcaster and the British MSO.

PBS UK is a joint venture between PBS Distribution (the company that holds the international rights for most of the broadcaster’s output) and Canadian entrepreneur David Lyons. Its programming will – at least initially – consist of content drawn exclusively from PBS. This will include the acclaimed documentary Frontline and the Emmy award-winning Prohibition, a three-part, six-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns.

While it has already been confirmed that the channel will be slotted within the Entertainment section of Sky’s electronic programme guide (EPG), its exact channel number is yet to be determined. As Viacom recently discovered when it launched its MTV and Comedy Central channels on the popular satellite TV platform, getting a prominent EPG position that would guarantee increasing viewership comes at a price which can easily amount to millions of Dollars these days.

“It is a tremendous honour to be tasked with introducing one of America’s most trusted brands to the British public,” said Richard Kingsbury, PBS UK’s general manager. “Many will have watched PBS shows acquired by other channels without realising it, but with the vast majority of PBS’s back catalogue still to premiere in the UK, there is a tremendous wealth of epic true stories available to craft a highly valued channel here.”

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