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Classic FM to move ahead with television plans

LONDON - Classic FM is to move ahead with its plans for a television station with the launch next month of the 24-hour free-to-air Classic FM TV, which will broadcast a populist mix including the likes of The Opera Babes, Bond and John William's 'Star Wars'.

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Reports of a Classic FM TV station were first revealed in September as the station builds on its status as the UK's largest FM commercial radio station with 6.7m listeners.

The TV station, which is currently being tested, will be launched towards the end of next month on the Sky Digital platform, making it available to an estimated 6.3m viewers.

Working with the record industry and other broadcasters, Classic FM TV has built an extensive library of music videos, some of which have been made exclusively for the channel. Other artists to be featured include Kyung-Wha Chung, Angela Gheorghiu, Kennedy, Izzy, Yo-Yo Ma and music from original movie soundtracks.

The mix of music highlights Classic FM's desire to be grouped with the growing band of 24-hour music stations from MTV and Emap, which is behind Kerrang! and Smash Hits TV, rather than the more high-brow arts channels found on cable and satellite, such as BBC Four and the Performance Channel.

The TV station launches as Classic FM, which was 10 years old this year, finishes one of its most successful years to date. Earlier this year, Classic FM was awarded Brand Development of the Year by The Marketing Society and named Arts & Business Champion 2002 by Arts & Business.

The decision to extend the Classic FM brand into television follows the launch of the Classic FM Magazine, which is published by Haymarket, and its Classic FM record label, which has sold more than 1m triple box sets in the last three years.

Roger Lewis, managing director and programme controller of Classic FM, said: "This is a unique format for music television. Classic FM TV will be the first 24/7 classical music video channel anywhere in the world. Classic FM TV underlines Classic FM's commitment to building new audiences for classical music."

The station is to be headed up by Julian Rigamonti, who has been promoted from his current role as head of sponsorship and promotions at Classic FM. He will report directly to Lewis.

The station branding has been created by BAFTA award-winning Jump Design & Direction.

The company is also reported to have drawn up plans to broadcast the station over the next generation of mobile phones.

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