New 3e station joins ratings battle
TV3's attempt to present a credible alternative to RTE continues today with the launch of its new sister channel, 3e.
The revamped look -- linking TV3, 3e and the website TV3.ie -- will be displayed for the first time during the break in the news at 5.30pm.
The rebranding of the former Channel 6 station will be pushed through despite significant cutbacks at TV3 because of the slump in television advertising. The country's largest commercial station has already cut the equivalent of 30 full-time posts and drastically reduced its weekend news coverage.
But the rebranding of Channel 6 to 3e is not expected to result in any further job cuts, and TV3 also said that the new station's schedule would not be dominated by repeats. However, a spokeswoman added it would be looking at minimising overheads and cutting costs.
Ben Frow, director of programming at the newly formed TV3 Group, admitted that it was "not exactly reinventing the wheel" in aiming to replicate the successful model of ITV and Channel 4's sister station e4.
TV3's chief executive David McRedmond said the linkage would allow the station to ensure that those uninterested in a sporting programme, for example, could switch over to an entertainment programme on 3e, ensuring they were not lost to the station.
Mr Frow said that the rebranding had been carried out on a "shoestring" budget, and would give the stations a sleek, modern, contemporary look. The total cost, including the purchase of Channel 6 last July, is believed to be in the region of €3m. The digital channel is non-subscription and available on NTL, Chorus and through Sky Digital.
Mr Frow said 3e would have its own unique programming, its own identity, and would not be a station full of "repeats" of other programmes. However, the Irish-made Channel 6 music programme fronted by Michelle Doherty and a film review show have already been axed. The director said it would be working over the next few months to create replacements.
Some of Channel 6's popular programmes, such as 'Sex and the City', 'Heroes' and 'CSI', will remain, and be joined by the new HBO series 'In Treatment', starring Gabriel Byrne.
He stressed they were determined to have Irish-originated programmes every week on TV3. He added the budget for 3e would likely be less than when it was Channel 6. Apart from a strong December, the station had a double-digit drop in ad revenue in the last quarter.