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Channel 4 considers music channel launch for Freeview

LONDON - Channel 4 is mulling over the launch of its own dedicated music station as part of plans to safeguard its future after analogue switch-off.

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In an interview with The Times, Rod Henwood, Channel 4's new business director, said he was aiming to launch a new channel to fill a Freeview slot left vacant by the sell-off of gaming service Quiz Call in November.

Henwood said that music was one of the contenders for the slot but dismissed press reports of talks to invest in Emap's family of music channels, which includes include The Box, Magic, Smash Hits, The Hits, Kerrang! and Kiss.

Channel 4 already runs a daily music zone on its youth-orientated digital offshoot E4, transmitted from 6am to 2pm, as well as regular shows such as 'Popworld' on the main terrestrial network.

The broadcaster is keen to expand its offering in this area because music is one of main drivers of young audiences to new-media platforms.

Channel 4 is looking at a number of options, including the expansion of its DVD distribution business, to keep itself profitable in the future. While it reported £66.8m profits last year, Channel 4 says it has long-term funding pressures and could be facing a £100m funding gap every year.

The broadcaster has said its current ad-funded business model is not sustainable in a digital environment, particularly beause UK television advertising revenues are to expected fall again next year.

Earlier this month, Channel 4 boosted its new-media portfolio with the launch of video-on-demand service to allow viewers to download shows to their personal computers.

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