Broadcast is reporting today that Virgin Media's TV boss Johnny Webb is attempting to "buy everything" from the US TV sales conference that is underway in the US so that he can set up a rival channel to Sky One.
The channel, apparently to be called "Virgin One" will appear on cable and Freeview (and presumably if it wishes to have a chance at grabbing large audiences, Freesat too) and will show the best US programmes Virgin can afford.
The new channel will provide a showcase for Virgin premium content, and replace the badly performing Flextech archive channel FTN. However, FTN is an evening-only channel on Freeview, so more Virgin bandwidth may need to be provided for a full-time Sky rival.
Virgin has also, it is reported, "commissioning shows from UK independent producers" for the new channel which will then sit between the female "Living" channel and the male "Bravo".
Speculation that a Virgin-branded sports channel provided by Setanta Sports may also appear on cable, satellite and Freeview.
No news on a Virgin News service, as yet.
Update 11 June 2007, 17:23
Broadcast now confirms the channel, Virgin 1, will start on cable, Freeview and satellite this autumn, and will feature content from Living and Bravo.
Jonathan Webb, told Broadcast "I want Virgin 1 and the newly reinvigorated Living to be two of the top 10 TV channels by switchover."Virgin 1 will shake up multi-channel and free to air TV, and start liberating viewers from the linear schedule. It will be a creative tour de force and a cutting-edge example of any time, any place content. VMtv has huge support from Virgin Media and Richard Branson who agree that Virgin 1 is what UK audiences have been waiting for."
Update: 12 June 2007, 10:40
Broadcast are now saying that there will be a "Virgin Sports News" channel on all platforms by the end of 2007. IMG Media will be the partners and Setanta expect to contribute too, but nothing is signed yet. "[We are] too far into the process not to go ahead with our own sports news channel" Virgin Media told Broadcast.