Sky News will use the Hay Festival to launch a foray into the virtual world of Second Life (SL).

The TV news channel will launch a "virtual newsroom" inside the 3D environment in a debut simulcast with politics editor Adam Boulton's Sunday Live programme on 27 May. Mr Boulton will field questions from SL inhabitants.

The facility will purportedly allow users' avatars to wander around a replica of the Sky News Centre near Twickenham, sitting in presenter chairs, talking with reporters and visiting the production gallery.

Developers plan to bring new understanding to news stories by recreating events like court hearings, crime scenes and natural disasters in-world. And, by means of a gimmick, users will be able to carry away a virtual television set with a Sky News video feed streamed from the real-world TV channel.

Later, Sky aims to take user-submitted video and other news material through the platform.

BSkyB claimed the channel is "the first television news channel to take up a permanent presence in Second Life", but Reuters already boasts an embedded reporter inside the environment who covers only the world of Second Life itself.

The news agency embarked on the project last autumn following a rash of hype about the marketing potential of the virtual world, which claims two million registered users.

Sky's area of Second Life (or, "sim", in the parlance) has been modeled by Rivers Run Red, a digital marketing firm cum virtual architect that has built spaces for the likes of Adidas and Vodafone.

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