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29/03/2001

SIMPLY MONEY FACES FISCAL COMPLICATIONS

THE television channel fronted by Angela Rippon, ‘Simply Money’, the UK’s first interactive digital consumer finance channel launched in January 2000, has been scrapped because of its failure to self-generate enough capital.
The station is to be turned into a shopping channel because investors’ believe a home shopping channel has the potential to be more profitable in a shorter timeframe.
According to the Financial Times, John Hodges, chief operating officer of Invest TV, said the channel had been too reliant on income from advertising and sponsorship. “It was not a robust business model.”
Hodges said: “There has been a 10 to 15 per cent increase in the number of digital channels this year - all fighting for a reduced pot of advertising cash.”
Launched in January last year, the channel which reaches around 550,000 viewers a month, is carried on the Sky Digital and ONdigital platforms.
While the channel is showing archive footage at the moment Hodges claimed that there is no cash crisis: “We are fully funded. The business has simply been refocused.” However, Invest TV have warned that this refocusing is likely to result in a number of staff redundancies at Simply Money.
The replacement channel, ‘Simply Shopping’, to be launched next month on Sky Digital, will sell goods such as clothes, gardening equipment and DIY kits.
Invest TV intends to work closely with commercial partners, whether advertisers, retailers or Direct Response Television (DRTV) companies, to develop, broadcast and promote transactional infomercial and tele-shopping content.
The company has recently entered into a commercial arrangement with Best Direct (International) Limited, a leading European (DRTV) company. The first programming on the new channel is expected to launch in early April.
On the decision to refocus Invest TV’s business model, George Bayer founder of Simply Money and Managing Director of Invest TV Resources said: “I am very excited at the prospect of developing a format of programming, which will stand out from the existing players in the market. As a producer of high quality, low cost television and with broadcast capacity, we have already generated significant interest in our proposition from a number of high profile retailers”.
Simply Money is part of Invest TV, owned by Pacific Investments, a private equity firm, and Mike Luckwell, a media investor and former managing director of Carlton Communications.(AMcE / SP)
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