C4 to support shows on networking sites

Channel 4 is kick-starting a strategy to tap into the popularity of social-network websites including MySpace, YouTube and Google Video to promote its TV shows.

In the first phase of the initiative, Channel 4 will become the first UK broadcaster to premiere a full-length programme on MySpace up to a month before its first TV transmission.

Internet users will be able to visit the site to view the first episode of Skins, a nine-part comedy-drama series due to debut on E4 in January.

The launch of Skins will be supported by a digital drive, which will encourage audiences to visit a microsite featuring video clips of the show's characters. There will also be a heavyweight TV campaign, as well as outdoor activity and press ads in lifestyle titles including Heat, More and Nuts.

In the second phase, Channel 4 will roll out a viral campaign to promote the return of acclaimed series Shameless. A video clip will be posted on user-generated content sites, comedy blogs and social sites. Fans of the show will be able to watch and rate the clip before emailing it on to friends.

This will be followed by the launch of a Shameless site dubbed the Shameless Anti-social Network. This site, which will run for the duration of the series, will feature a page dedicated to each of the main characters.

Channel 4 intends to use similar initiatives to promote key shows throughout the year. Online activity is currently being planned to promote next month's return of Celebrity Big Brother.

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