The Only Way Is Essex to move to new channel ITVBe

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ITV has confirmed that it is to launch ITVBe, a brand new free-to-air channel that will become the exclusive home of hit scripted reality series The Only Way Is Essex.

According to the broadcaster, ITVBe will complement TOWIE's existing network ITV2, featuring lifestyle and reality programming aimed at a similar - though slightly older - female audience.

The new channel will also take on the American Real Housewives franchise, as well as other acquired programming.

Meanwhile, ITV2 will focus on 'unashamed entertainment', including comedies The Job Lot and Plebs, panel show Celebrity Juice and gameshow Release The Hounds.

ITV's chief executive Adam Crozier said: "ITVBe will be a terrific new addition to our family of channels. 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."

Director of television Peter Fincham further explained: "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, aimed more squarely at that audience."

Unlike ITV's other recently-announced new brand ITV Encore - which is exclusive to Sky - ITVBe will be available on all major platforms, including Freeview.

However, TOWIE is set to remain on ITV2 for the near future, as ITVBe will not launch until the end of the year.

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