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December 4, 1995

WESTMINSTER CABLE, LIVE TV LAUNCH NEW CABLE CHANNEL

By CBR Staff Writer

British Telecommunications Plc’s Westminster Cable Ltd, and cable television company Live TV have launched a local cable television station aimed specifically at the London Borough of Westminster. Westminster Live went live on Friday. Live TV is part of the late Robert Maxwell’s Mirror Group Plc’s Mirror Television operation. The group, which currently receives no revenues from local advertising, is hoping to fill this gap with local television. It is planning to establish a national network of local cable channels, of which Westminster Live will be the first. Westminster is an excellent borough for local television, incorporating as it does the British parliament, most of the country’s major business population, as well as a very broad mix of cultures, said Mirror Television assistant managing director Richard Horwood. Westminster Live will broadcast an hourly local news bulletin concentrating solely on news within the Borough of Westminster. It will then link in to Live TV’s national news bulletins, which are produced and broadcast from the same news desk. The rest of the hour’s programming will at present be national, coming from Live TV, but Horwood said it was likely that local content would be produced in time. Because of the highly localised content, and technology reducing the costs of video production, the company believes it will attract local advertisers that would not previously have thought of using television advertising. Horwood said new technologies enable companies to produce a good quality 30-second commercial for less than ú1,000. Since only 50,000 homes in the City of Westminster currently have cable installed, and the maximum potential audience is 130,000, advertising spot rates on the channel are, the station claims, lower than even local radio rates. Westminster Live will run quite independently of Westminster Cable’s video-on-demand trials, which uses Digital Equipment Corp video servers and Online Media Ltd set-top boxes (CI No 2,660), which were due to start this month, but have put back for about three weeks due to minor technical problems. However Westminster Cable said it would be monitoring demand for video-on-demand, alongside its live television offering, and in particular seeing how much interest there is amongst households that have a broad range of channels available to them through the cable network.

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