Women and educated professionals are prime targets for the BBC and Flextech’s joint venture subscription documentary channel, Horizons, expected to launch in the U.K. at the end of the year. The channel will pick from the prime of BBC’s factual catalogue and employ existing BBC presenters.
Insiders say indicative programming is likely to be David Attenborough’s wildlife docs, Michael Palin’s Around The World In Eighty Days, and Animal Hospital. The main channel strands will be science and technology, human interest and wildlife. The channel organizers say the ‘strong human interest zone’ will distinguish Horizons from other documentary services, and will particularly appeal to women. There is also likely to be a high repeat factor.
As part of a BBC/Flextech reshuffle in July, Roly Keating, head of programming for U.K. commercial channels, announced the Horizons management team. Former bbc factual producers Bryher Scudamore and Eddie Tulasiewicz are the channel editor and deputy editor respectively. Discovery program planner Brendan Dahill is schedule manager.
Horizons is one of eight themed channels in the joint venture, which cover the arts (Arena), sport (Sports Entertainment network), style and leisure (Style), education (Learning), music videos (One-TV), classic bbc comedy and drama (Showcase), and general repeats (Catch-Up TV).
Other appointments include Discovery Home and Leisure executive producer Andrew Lowry as editor of Style, and bbc regional executive producer Richard Fell as editor of Arena. The only appointment made from outside Flextech and BBC is broadcast analyst Stuart Pearson, who moves from ITV Network Centre to become schedule manager at Style and Arena.
These channel launches are part of a wider collaboration between the BBC and TCI, a major shareholder of both Flextech and Discovery Communications. In an agreement signed last September, BBC and Discovery pledged a wide-ranging global alliance to coproduce and commission bbc factual programs and to create and distribute factual tv channels around the world.
In July, Discovery launched the first of these joint-venture dth networks, Animal Planet, which will roll out internationally during the second half of 1997. Although the editorial thrust of this channel is broadly the same throughout the world, there are regional variations in Latin America and the u.s, and it includes an element of drama.
BBC Worldwide will have a 20% stake in the u.s. feed for Animal Planet, which will remain under the sole control of DCI.