MEDIA: Keeling plans interactive move for UKTV channels

UKTV, the subscription channel network that includes UK Gold, has

appointed John Keeling as controller of channels.



Launched in 1997, UKTV is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and

Flextech, the content arm of Telewest.



Keeling, who starts next week, plans to develop alternative revenue

streams such as interactive programmes. New commissions will also be an

increasing part of UKTV's output, though Keeling would not reveal what

proportion of the budget is allocated to them.



But he said there would be original music programmes on PlayUK, whose

editor is Matthew Littleford, as well as new content for Food, which

launches next week, and Style. Both of these are edited by Nick

Thorogood.



Horizons, the factual channel edited by Liam Keelan, is an archive-only

channel at present. 'But I don't see any reason why it shouldn't have

original programmes in the future,' Keeling added.



Katie Barnard remains editor of Gold and Drama.



Keeling said: 'The emphasis will be to consolidate what's there now. A

lot of it is fairly young. I want to make sure that each of the channels

knows what it is trying to be and can execute against that.



'You have got to be sure what you're offering is right from the start.

Getting viewers back a second time is twice as hard. Keeping UKTV as a

coherent package is the way to grow it.'



He continued: 'Outside of Sky, UKTV is the most successful commercial

operation. It is so important in the multi-channel arena to make your

brand stand out.'



Keeling will report directly to BBC director of TV, Mark Thompson, who

said the new controller has 'proven editorial vision and creative

leadership'.



Keeling launched Channel 4's digital channel FilmFour, and has worked at

The Disney Channel, MTV and Sky Movies. He was MD for Europe at The

Auction Channel, which stopped broadcasting in the UK last March.



Keeling has been acting as a consultant in the advertising sector since

then.



He replaces Kathryn Mitchell, who joined New York-based Comedy Central

as senior vice-president of programming.



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