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ITV is to launch a new free-to-air channel geared towards a young, female audience.

The broadcaster is promising to air "the best entertaining lifestyle and reality programming from the UK and the US" on ITVBe, which will launch later in 2014.

towie 2013

ITVBe is to become the new home of award-winning series 'The Only Way is Essex' (TOWIE) - which currently airs on ITV2 - and acquired content such as 'The Real Housewives'.

The channel - which will be funded by advertising and sponsorship - will be available for free on all the major broadcasting platforms, including Freeview, Sky, BT and Virgin Media.

Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV, predicted ITVBe will be "a terrific new addition" to its family of channels. "It reinforces our plan to maximise audiences and revenues from our broadcasting business," he stated.

"Alongside our recently-announced new pay channel ITV Encore, this is another important step forward in our strategy to become the most-watched, most-loved and most-talked about family of free and pay channels for every household and every advertiser in the UK.”

Peter Fincham, Director of Television at ITV, said expanding ITV’s family of channels to introduce a new free-to-air, female-oriented channel - focusing on entertainment and reality - will mean viewers will have access to "even more great content".

"We identified an opportunity to develop what is currently part of the ITV2 schedule - reality and non-scripted shows, which are very popular with young women and housewives with kids - into a distinct channel proposition," he stated.

"ITV2 will continue to be the youngest channel in our portfolio, outside of CITV, and the strategy of bringing more scripted series, both acquired and commissioned, will continue apace, alongside panel shows, formats and other young-skewing commissions."

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