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Irish viewers to get a '6' sense soon!

Samantha McCaughren A ?1m advertising budget will be a key weapon for new Irish TV station Channel 6 when it begins its assault on viewers here in just seven weeks.

The station's advertising spend will be far higher than the kind of money currently invested by Irish broadcasters, with some insiders estimating that its marketing spend is three times higher than TV3's.

The Channel 6 team have been outlining their plan to the advertising community and, on the face of it, advertisers will welcome any media in the market which will offer choice and value. Programmes include 'Frasier', 'Charmed', 'Seventh Heaven' and 'Sex and the City'.

The task ahead of the station has been described as ambitious and a "hard slog" by some ad agencies.

On the flip side, station founder Pat Donnelly - who is a former advertising executive - is very much admired in the industry and is known to be a 'shrewd operator', so Channel 6 may well have found a gap in the market.

The station's model will be more like Setanta Sports' than TV3's, in that it will be a niche station. It will not cover news, current affairs or sport.

It will run themed nights, targeting individual segments of the 15 to 34-year-old age group. Most of the programmes and films aired will have already run on stations available in the Irish market.

Joe Dalton, of AFA O'Meara, said that it would, to some extent, be "a numbers game" in that the success of the station would depend on a clearly defined low cost base and revenues from advertisers targeting the under-35s.

He expects that the station will "tie down some major deals" with a few key advertisers from the start. Likely advertisers would include mobile phone companies and confectionery brands. And while already successful programmes will also hold some appeal, viewing numbers will be relatively low. Mr Dalton said that people will stop at the station if they are flicking around and see something they like, but reckons overall viewing will be at a low level.

Nick Slaymaker, head of TV at Mindshare, said: "From advertisers'

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point of view, we

very much hopes it

succeeds. More competition is always a good thing."

"But at the moment, I'm struggling to understand why they haven't pushed to get onto the Sky platform." While the station will be carried on NTL and Chorus, it won't be on Sky for the time being.

He said it was a "worry" that

the launch would

automatically cut out close to



He said it was a "worry" that the launch would automatically cut out close to 400,000 homes.

He said that Irish viewing has already undergone considerable fragmentation, which made a launch harder than it would have been five years ago.

Much of what thestation will show isalready available on digital TV. "It's hard to see a unique selling point for the viewer," said Mr Slaymaker.

Gary Power, of Saor Communications, said that the station will need to account for between 1pc and 3pc of all television viewing.

"Channel 6 is aiming to be a pure entertainment station for 15/34s - so in cross-media comparisons, they are trying to be more of a magazine than a newspaper for this age group to tune in and out of."

"The station's main marketing ploy to attract 15/34s seems to be to alienate main chunks of this group by promoting niche viewing evenings - which in itself is a risky strategy."

These niche programming nights - such as ladies night - will be heavily advertised each day.

Mr Power said that Channel 6 had been wise to ensure they would be included in the Nielsen TV tracking research, which will give buyers confidence of neutral audience viewing figures, "unlike City Channel who are researching themselves at present".

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