Seven to launch terrestrial 7Two

New channel will feature US, UK programming

SYDNEY -- Australia’s Seven Network Friday unveiled long-awaited plans to launch a second digital terrestrial channel in November under the moniker 7Two.

The 24-hour channel, heavily reliant on U.S. and U.K. programming promises “more drama, more lifestyle, more reality, more comedy, more movies."

A number of key U.S. dramas that Seven gets under its output deals will move across to the channel, with new seasons of “Lost,” “Ugly Betty,’ “Heroes” and “24” to premiere there. In addition HBO shows like “The Sopranos” and  “Six Feet Under” will air, while the new “Jay Leno Show,” will get its first Australian free-to-air run, weeknights on 7Two.

British programming will also play a key role with “A Touch of Frost,” “Prime Suspect,” and “Judge John Deed,” scheduled, alongside new programs including motoring hit “Fifth Gear,” “Heartbeat,” “Holby Blue,” “Benidorm,” “Gavin & Stacey” and “Britain’s Best Dish."

Themed nights of programming include Action & Adventure, Lifestyle and Movies with a family focus based on Disney’s family titles.

Seven’s head of production and programming, Tim Worner said, “we’ve been strategic in putting together a program schedule for 7Two that allows us to grow our audience between our two channels, without sacrificing one for the other. It is a complementary relationship that will go from strength to strength maximizing the opportunities for our audience and clients.”

The federal government removed restrictions on the free-to-air networks airing multichannels earlier this year in a bid to drive the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting. Digital terrestrial TV is estimated to be in around 50% of Australian homes.

Rival Network Ten launched its high-definition sport channel, One, earlier this year while Nine’s Go! general entertainment channel launched in August. Go is skewed to a 16 – 39 audience and is the top rating digital terrestrial channel in the market.

ABC3, a kid-specific channel, will launch December 4.