Mike Luckwell's Simply Media is to take on venture capital-backed Aggregator by launching a digital terrestrial set-top box with broadband TV services targeting ethnic audiences. Simply TV's first IPTV target market will be ex-pat Russians living in the UK—the same market Aggregator's Russian niche TV service, MoëTV, has focused on since launching in October.
Simply TV's Russian service costs between £49 and £99 for the set-top box, depending on which contract is taken. A choice of twelve channels costs from £3.99 per month. Aggregator's PC-based service—it also plans to offer a set-top box this year—offers individual programmes from between 99p and £2.99.
Simply TV's channels are being provided by ethnic channel aggregator JumpTV, which last year launched 254 ethnic channels on the web from more than 70 countries. Simply TV will carry JumpTV's channels from Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, including leading channels from Romania, Bangladesh, Turkey and Pakistan.
Luckwell is a former managing director of Carlton Television, and was once its largest shareholder. He sold his stake in 1986 for £25m and later became the largest shareholder in marketing services group WPP before selling his interest in 1997. Luckwell was also an investor in children's producer HIT Entertainment which was sold to Apax in 2005, yielding £33m for his shareholding.
Simply Media, co-founded by Luckwell and fellow media entrepreneur Henry Scott, already operates niche channels on satellite television and the web.
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