A former BSkyB programme executive is launching an interactive women's lifestyle channel called Channel Health with plans to fill at least a quarter of its airtime with original productions, writes Simon Ellery.
The television channel will launch on Sky Digital in June initially broadcasting from 09.00-17.00 seven days a week. This will rise to 12 hours a day in October with plans to transmit 24 hours a day in January.

The channel, with former BSkyB head of programme development Jo Sawicki as chief executive, has secured its funds from unnamed private investors.

Head of programming is former CBS managing director of sales Sonja Mendes, with the head of production role filled by former BBC arts senior editor Jeanine Josman, whose credits include Looking Good and The Clothes Show.

Former BSkyB creative director Bruce Dunlop will create the channel's on-air look.

The service will target women over 30 and Marie Claire readers, using a mix of output centring on health and women's lifestyle issues, including documentaries and diet shows. Drama will also be included in the schedule.

All programming will be interactive, through digital TV, websites or premium rate phone lines.

Executives are already in talks with producers and are keen to develop co-productions in the future.

The channel will start with 25 per cent original output, with the remainder filled by acquired shows. Initially four two-hour programming blocks will be repeated through the week. Shows already bought include magazine show Good Medicine, a number of health cooking programmes plus US drama series Ben Casey and Australian hospital series Adrenaline Junkies.