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ITV4 to air on Sky Digital after last-minute deal

LONDON - ITV4 will temporarily air in the Men & Motors slot on Sky Digital after Sky originally said it would not broadcast ITV's new male-orientated channel until a week after its launch.

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The satellite broadcaster originally told ITV that due to "administrative issues" it would be unlikely to air ITV4 until November 7 despite the channel going live on NTL, Telewest and Freeview from tomorrow night. 

Not wanting to miss out on ratings for its debut week, ITV decided to switch ITV4 on to its other male channel, Men & Motors, for a week until the new channel space is made available on Sky.

Meanwhile, Sky is set to launch its own free-to-view channel Sky Three today -- the day before ITV4 goes live.

The delay fuelled speculation last week that Sky was deliberately stalling on the basis that ITV4 will undermine viewing figures for its own launch.

ITV4 is being predominantly targeted at a male audience. It will broadcast a variety of drama, comedy, films and sport, including the new 'Kojak' starring Ving Rhames and live and exclusive coverage of the Uefa Champions League.

Sky Three will be the new name for Sky Travel. The channel will provide digital and Freeview viewers with a mix of programmes from the Sky One archive as well as original lifestyle commissions and travel documentaries from Sky Travel.

When ITV3 launched last year, it only became available on Sky following a last-minute deal that saw ITV buy Sky Ventures' 49.5% stake in Granada Sky Broadcasting.

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