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City Channel gets €400k investment

AS Ireland's TV sector lurches through its worst crisis in decades, local investors and 35pc shareholder Liberty Global have just ploughed another €400,000 into David Harvey's City Channel.

The injection brings total investment in the venture to a modest-sounding €2m and will be used to "keep us moving in the right direction", according to former RTE man Harvey.

As well as providing a buffer against potentially difficult trading in 2010, the cash has been ear-marked for two "projects" that City Channel is "hoping to progress" this year.

The first is a new channel as a joint venture with a UK partner. "Talks haven't advanced that far yet but we're looking at something a little bit different," says Harvey.

"The UK partner would bring the content and we could mix in local content."

City Channel is also hoping to develop its fledgling City Productions unit, which began life last year with tv3's Top Gear style 'Accelerate' programme.

"Production is another revenue stream for us and we get to run the content on City Channel at the end so it works out really nicely," says Harvey, adding that he's already in talks with tv3 on another potential project.

Asked about the difficulty of getting more investment at times like this, Harvey points to the relatively small sums involved. "There was always going to be strategic investment," he says. "If we were looking for millions it might have been an issue, but €400,000 sounds okay to people."

As for trading in the core City Channel operations in Dublin, Munster and Galway, Harvey says 2009 was "better than 2008" which was a "bolt out of the blue". "We didn't make money last year but we didn't lose much either," he says, adding that prospects for 2010 are "brighter" as City Channel focus on "long term" contracts with advertisers.

It is more than four years since City Channel took to the air, launching amid a flurry of activity in TV that saw Bubble Hits, Setanta Ireland and Channel 6 join the airwaves.

"We're the only ones who haven't been through big trauma," says Harvey, stressing that his venture is "way past the point" of potential collapse.

Irish Independent