The European Commission has approved plans for The Studio Channel, a UK pay-TV joint venture between cable giant NTL and Universal Studios Networks.

The greenlight came after the Commission's analysis showed that the creation of the library film service will neither create nor reinforce a dominant position in any market. The operation is expected to launch in the first quarter next year.

The service will initially operate 18 hours a day, with films packaged in thematic blocks and strands. The venture aims to have a roster of 1,000 features by launch, drawing on films from all US majors.

Titles already secured include: Born On The Fourth Of July, Babe, True Lies, Gorillas In The Mist and The Flintstones. The service will initially only be available to NTL's digital subscribers, but will come as part of their basic package and at no extra cost.

London-based Universal Studios Networks also operates the Sci-Fi channel in the UK. The group has launched channels in France, Italy, Germany and Spain over the last three years.