The BBC has announced that it is launching its own free-to-view satellite service.
The service, which is expected to be up and running by the end of 2008, will give viewers access to a dozen new channels, among them the Mona Lisa Channel, which will show the Mona Lisa painting, and the Outdoors Channel, which is aimed at people who have not been outside for a bit and will show a random outdoors scene. A spokesman said "We are very excited about the new service, particularly the concept of showing couch potatoes what it looks like outside. The Outdoors Channel will broadcast every day between 7 pm and 8pm. There will also be a Sheep Channel exclusively broadcast in Wales".
The spokesman added "Of course, we will throw in BBC1 and BBC2 absolutely free, so this really is a great deal".
Reception for the new service will initially be limited to people living on top of Ben Nevis, though it is hoped that by 2010, people living halfway down the mountain will also pick up a signal, though they may need a booster device, which the BBC is planning to sell for just £99.99.
For years, television has been dominated by BSkyB and to a lesser extent NTL (now Virgin). The BBC spokesman said "This will put the BBC back on the map."
Meanwhile, the Hallmark Channel is to be renamed the Diagnosis Murder Channel, and UK Living will be renamed the Charmed Channel, as part of "corporate restructuring projects to de-emphasis broadcasting of other programmes".