Branson preps big Virgin One launch


LONDON -- Virgin Media boss Richard Branson is pulling out all the stops for the Oct. 1 launch of general entertainment channel Virgin One, which will be celebrated will a party at the billionaire entrepeneur's Oxfordshire home.

The channel, which enjoyed an acquisitions spree at this year's L.A. Screenings, will be available on cable, satellite and Freeview and via Virgin's broadband portal, airing such shows as "The Riches" and "The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

Branson will host a party for the channel's launch Sept. 27, four days before the channel goes live.

Virgin Media made the controversial decision to launch the channel after carriage negotiations with satcaster BSkyB for channels including "Lost" home Sky One collapsed at the beginning of the year.

The cable giant, which parted company with CEO Steve Burch earlier this summer, hopes that the new channel will restore its appeal with viewers, after 40,000 cable subscribers cancelled their subscriptions in the second quarter.