MEDIA: Schedule revamp at five

Terrestrial broadcaster five is set to ramp up its current affairs and factual programming in the coming year.

New series of House Doctor, Hot Property and 5th Gear are planned along with a return to the popular documentary strand with programmes looking at phenomena such as Friends Reunited and plastic surgery.

New strands are to be commissioned for the 8pm slot with more one-offs and series for the movie-dominated 9pm slot.

Current affairs spending is set to double this year with initiatives under new recruit Donal MacIntyre, who will front the UK Undercover strand.

five hopes to continue increasing its slice of the UK TV audience with its viewing share growing from 5.7 per cent in 2001 to 6.3 per cent in 2002.

It aims to do this by producing programmes that are 'based on a clearer understanding of our place in the TV landscape' and 'confident' scheduling that 'continues to take risks and experiment'.

five director of programmes Kevin Lygo said: 'In 2003 we will deliver a schedule with quality programmes across the spectrum of different genres.

Our aim is to become a significant cultural force in people's lives, and to matter to them.'

Meanwhile, the channel is expected to announce the arrival of Telewest content arm Flextech CEO Jane Lighting.

Lighting brings with her wide digital TV experience having overseen established satellite channels such as Bravo, Trouble and LivingTV.

A Flextech spokeswoman dismissed press reports of the move as 'speculation' but insiders claim the board was originally due to announce her departure last Friday.

The move will come as a blow to Flextech, which launched its first national channel Ftn on the BBC/ BSkyB platform Freeview on 15 January.

The channel is designed to showcase Flextech programming and will include UK-produced shows such as the Goldie-fronted programme The World's Deadliest Gangs. Ftn channel controller is Richard Woolfe.

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