Kevin MacKenzie to bring sports channel to Freeview
Published Sep 2 2011, 17:11 BST | By Andrew Laughlin Kelvin MacKenzie
, the former boss of Live TV and editor of The Sun
, has announced his return to broadcasting with the launch of a new sports channel on Freeview. Sports Tonight Live
, first revealed in May
, will debut on the digital terrestrial television platform at channel 112 at some point this month. Freeview channel 112 is delivered over DTT, but is only available to users with the latest IP-connected, high definition set top boxes.
Billed as "TalkSport meets Sky Sports News", the channel will initially broadcast from 9-11pm, but there are plans to increase the transmission hours after launch.Sports Tonight Live
officially launched as an online show on a dedicated website, hosted by former TalkSport presenter Mike Parry. The two-hour online programme offers a roundup of the day's sporting events with a panel including Ian Stone, Tony Dortie and Mike Osman.
Viewers are encouraged to get involved in the show, which mainly focuses on football but touches on other sports, via Twitter or web telephony service Skype.
MacKenzie told Broadcast
that taking the daily show onto Freeview would expand its reach, as around 10m UK homes currently have the service on their main set (although only a certain proportion have IP-enabled receiver equipment).
"Sky Sports News is fantastic at what it does but it still leaves a few crumbs on the table for us serfs to try to create a business," he said.
Despite the fact that Sports Tonight Live has a high channel number on the Freeview EPG, MacKenzie feels that "if you get the right content, the viewers will find you and the figures can go through the roof".
He will also presumably be hoping to capitalise on Sky's decision to remove Sky Sports News from Freeview last year and make the channel pay-TV exclusive
Former Soccer AM
producer Neil Smyth has been appointed as executive producer of Sports Tonight Live, overseeing a team of around 15 staff. The venture has £5m in financing and is backed by former Conservative party treasurer Lord Ashcroft, who has a minority stake.