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is a television channel that broadcasts in the
United Kingdom. Launched in 1997, it is the fifth
and final national terrestrial analogue television
channel to launch. Originally called Channel 5,
the station rebranded itself as Five in 2002.
5 Broadcasting Limited (the legal name of the
company, though its on-screen identity is now
known as Five) was licensed by the UK Government
in 1995 after a bidding process that started in
1993 and lasted throughout 1994. The initial round
of bidders, which included a network of city-TV
stations planned by Thames Television and the
Italian politician and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi
(who a few months later retired his offer), was
rejected outright and the Independent Television
Commission contemplated not awarding the licence
The difficulty with the project lay in use of
television broadcast frequencies that had been
allocated to RF outputs from domestic video recorders.
To achieve national coverage, large numbers of
domestic video recorders (which output at a nearby
frequency) had to be retuned or fitted with a
filter, at the bidding company's expense.
The project was revived in mid-1994 when the Independent
Television Commission re-advertised the franchise.
Tom McGrath, then-president of Time Warner International
Broadcasting, put together a revised frequency
plan with NTL and consulting engineer Ellis Griffiths,
involving less re-tuning and greater signal coverage.
Lord (Clive) Hollick, then CEO of Meridian Broadcasting
(later United News & Media, and now UBM) took
up the project as lead investor as UK law prohibited
Time Warner from owning more than 25%. Pearson
Television, who by now owned original licence
bidders Thames Television, also came on board.
When McGrath left to become President of Paramount,
Time Warner dropped out of the project and was
replaced by CLT (known in the UK for Radio Luxembourg).
Pearson Television and CLT later merged, becoming
RTL Group who would become part of Bertelsmann
and, as of 2006, control the network, after buying
UBM's share. After Holleck became involved, he
and McGrath brought on board Greg Dyke (later
Director-General of the BBC) to be the interim
CEO during the application and launch phase of
Wolf Olins and Saatchi & Saatchi were the
main companies behind the pre-launch advertising
campaign: "Give Me 5". The channel would
be both modern and mainstream. A logo (a numeric
"5" within a circle) and visual motif
(a "candy stripe" bar of colours) were
used, and an attempt was made to establish a collection
of Channel 5 faces; through the spring of 1997,
billboards of Jack Docherty were displayed, along
with other unknown characters.
A series of pre-launch screens were displayed
on the frequencies Channel 5 would begin broadcasting
on in the months before launch as well, including
a trailer for the channel and information screens.
After an exhaustive re-tuning system, 65% of the
population could view the channel by launch night.
The channel's launch on Sunday 30 March 1997,
at 6:00 pm featured the Spice Girls singing a
re-written version of Manfred Mann's hit "5-4-3-2-1".
Presenters Tim Vine and Julia Bradbury introduced
the nation to the UK's fifth terrestrial channel
with half an hour of previews.
The rest of the Channel 5 launch night schedule,
along with the official viewing figures were as
18.30: Family Affairs - 1.7m million viewers
19.00: Two Little Boys, a one-off documentary,
written and presented by David Aaronovitch, following
the childhoods and early careers of then Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom John Major and
Leader of the Opposition Tony Blair - 0.68m
20.00: Hospital! - 1.12m
21.00: "Beyond Fear", a one-off drama
22.30 : The Jack Docherty Show - 1.16m
23.10: The Comedy Store Special, featuring stand-up
comedy and interviews - 0.73m
23.40: Turnstyle - 0.49m
00.10: Live and Dangerous, an all night sports
strand - 0.08m
05.30: Give me 5!, another chance to see the Spice
Girls launch the channel - 0.03m
2.49 million tuned in to see Britain's fifth free
network launch, a figure higher than that achieved
by launch of Channel 4 15 years earlier.
On Monday 16 September 2002, Channel 5 re-branded
to Five, in a multi million pound project directed
by Trevor Beattie. The channel's director of marketing
at the time, David Pullen, said:
“ This campaign set out to achieve three
key objectives: to clarify the channel's creative
strategy; to refresh the channel's on-screen identity;
and to address the gap between the common perceptions
of Five and the new reality of our programming
- stimulating viewers' reappraisal of Five's programmes
Channel 5 was a name; 'Five' is a brand. 'Five'
as a brand reflects the evolution the channel
is undergoing in programming and in becoming a
more confident and distinctive viewer proposition.
On 27 February 2004, it was reported that Five
and Channel 4 were discussing a possible merger.
Some comics joked that the merged company should
call itself Chanel 9 after the spoof foreign network
on The Fast Show. Channel 4 and Five announced
in November of that year that merger plans were
being called off.
On 20 July 2005, RTL Group paid £247.6 million
for United Business Media's 35.4% stake in the
channel. The acquisition was approved on 26 August
Early in 2009, rumours started re-surfacing about
Five, Channel 4 and ITV conducting a 3-way merger.
British television has undergone a lot of change
since Five's launch with the huge growth in digital
television. (See Digital television in the United
On 18 November 2005, it was announced that Five
had bought a stake in DTT's pay-TV operator, Top
Up TV. It was said that the investment may lead
to the development of new free and pay services
on DTT, and other platforms.
Following this, Five launched two new digital
TV channels in autumn 2006 on Freeview, Sky and
Fiver (originally Five Life), launched on 15 October
2006, providing pre-school shows under the milkshake!
banner as well as drama, films, soaps, popular
factual and lifestyle shows aimed at women.
Five USA (originally Five US), launched on 16
October 2006, offering drama, films, sport, comedy
and youth programming from across the Atlantic.
Spin-offs from the broadcaster's existing hits
also air on the new outlets.
The channels use digital terrestrial space that
was previously used by Top Up TV channels, but
a Top Up TV subscription is not needed to view
British frequency plan had only allowed for four
channels to be transmitted over the whole of the
UK using analogue terrestrial transmitters, but
the ITC identified that UHF channels 35 and 37
could provide coverage of around 70% of the UK
population. However, these channels were used
by many domestic video recorders for RF connection
to television sets. Before the channel could launch,
the broadcaster had to provide over-the-phone
instructions or visit any home that complained
in order to either retune the video recorder or
fit a filter to completely block the Channel 5
For many transmitters, channels 35 and 37 were
'out of group', which meant that the roof-top
receiving aerials were not designed to cover Channel
5's broadcast channels. Many people either could
not receive the channel at all, or required a
new aerial. The broadcaster has added to the transmitters
to improve the analogue terrestrial coverage since
that time. The channel was also provided on the
analogue Astra/BSkyB service, which enabled people
outside the terrestrial reception areas to receive
it via a satellite dish.
Unlike the other four analogue British television
channels, the channel cannot be received via analogue
terrestrial broadcasts in many areas, including
some parts of the south coast of England, where
the signal would otherwise interfere with signals
from television stations in France, many areas
of North East England, especially around the major
Tyne & Wear conurbation, many areas in Scotland,
most of Wales and parts of Cumbria. The channel
is available on all digital platforms (Freesat,
Sky Digital satellite, Tiscali TV IPTV and Freeview
digital terrestrial, and also most cable operators).
On November 5, Five finally launched on digital
satellite service Freesat, on the Astra 28.2°E
The channel was the first analogue network in
the UK to use a permanent digital on-screen graphic,
though this was removed in September 2002. In
2007, the channel's logo then returned to the
Five is available in Switzerland on Cablecom,
but unlike the other UK terrestrial channels,
it is not available on cable or MMDS in the Republic
of Ireland, the first such service not to be available
in the Republic. However, its terrestrial signal
can be received in areas bordering Northern Ireland,
or coastal areas close to Wales, and since going
free-to-air on 5 November 2008 to join Freesat,
it is now available in Republic of Ireland with
a digital satellite receiver.
Major features of the channel's early scheduling
structure included daily soap opera Family Affairs,
a nightly news broadcast presented by Kirsty Young,
and a film at 9pm every night.
In 1998 the channel began to show more risqué
late-night programmes such as Compromising Situations,
Hotline and the controversially explicit Sex and
In 1999 there was a large increase in adult entertainment
shown on the channel, including UK Raw and Red
Shoe Diaries, and giving the channel a reputation
for being home to hours of pornography.
Adult entertainment, live football, and the 9pm
films were the main source of viewing for the
channel, causing then-director of programming
Dawn Airey to stress that the Channel 5 was about
"more than just films, football and fucking!",
though this quote is still often misquoted as
a description of the channel's programming strategy
rather than as a denial of that strategy.
As the broadcaster entered the 2000s, changes
were made to address this problem. The level of
adult entertainment was scaled back, and reality
shows such as Naked Jungle and The Mole proved
popular. However other reality shows such as Touch
the Truck and Jailbreak were less successful.
The channel secured the rights to Home and Away
in 2000, that helped boost early evening viewing
figures, and after the channel re-branded as "five"
with a multi-million advertising campaign.
Family Affairs was dropped on 30 December 2005
due to insufficient ratings.
Since 2002, the broadcaster has pursued an aggressive
acquisition strategy, and has screened several
of the highest-rating American dramas, including
Grey's Anatomy, all three CSI franchises, House
(now broadcast on Sky 1),nthree of the Law &
Order franchises, The Mentalist and Prison Break
(which also moved to Sky 1). The channel also
poached talk-show host Trisha Goddard from ITV
to shore up its daytime schedule and Neighbours
after a bidding war with other broadcasters. As
a public service broadcaster, Five is required
to show educational programmes, including some
documentaries such as the Hidden Lives, Revealed
and Extraordinary People series. In 2005 Five
acquired the right to the annual Royal Institution
In addition to Family Affairs, Five has screened
a number of acquired soap operas. Cult prison
drama Prisoner Cell Block H was aired between
1997 and 2001, and the channel revived another
Australian soap, Sons and Daughters, running the
entire series between 1998 and 2005. In addition,
the channel showed two popular American soap operas
Sunset Beach and The Bold and the Beautiful every
weekday morning. After the end of Sunset Beach
in 1999, the remaining episodes were screened
until early 2000. The channel replaced it with
another soap opera popular in America Days of
our Lives, though after poor ratings it was removed
both soaps from weekday morning schedules in 2002.
The entire run of futuristic New Zealand teenage
drama series The Tribe was played out from 1999
The format rights for a UK version of The Mole
were acquired, and the show was well received:
the website UKGameshows.com announced that The
Mole beat The Crystal Maze to win its first reader
poll to find the best UK gameshow of all time.
Five also screened game show Fort Boyard from
1998 to 2002. In 2003, Five acquired the rights
to the cult show Robot Wars, previously shown
on BBC2, though the show ended soon after this,
and repeats of the previous series' went out on
Sky1 in late 2006.
In Make Me a Supermodel, a reality show, contestants
try to win a contract with the Select Modelling
Agency. The format has had two series, and the
second series was also featured on Five Life.
The channel attracted some controversy for its
reality series The Farm in 2004. The show, which
revolved around celebrities working on a farm,
saw Rebecca Loos masturbating a pig in order to
On 18 May 2007, Five acquired the rights to Australian
soap opera Neighbours, previously screened on
BBC One, after outbidding ITV. This was the second
time the two UK networks have fought over an Australian
soap, having previously competed over broadcast
rights to Home and Away.
In the early days, Five's morning schedules were
comprised mainly of American imports such as the
soaps The Bold and the Beautiful and Sunset Beach.
In 2000 Channel 5 launched Daytime Talk show The
Wright Stuff starring Matthew Wright in which
celebrity guests on a panel debate news stories
in front of a small audience. It first aired on
11 September 2000 and was created at Anglia Television
who produced it for two years until their takeover
by Granada. It is now produced by Princess Productions.
Originally broadcast from Anglia TV in Norwich,it
is still running today airing on FIVE at 9.15am
Until 10.45am, it currently broadcasts from Princess
Productions studios on the third floor of Whiteley's
Shopping Centre, Bayswater, London.
In 2003, Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslin arrived to
host the morning talk show The Terry and Gaby
Show, which lasted only a year, as it could not
compete with ITV's This Morning.
In September, 2004 Trisha Goddard left ITV1 to
join Five in a new programme titled Trisha Goddard,
which made its TV debut on 24 January 2005. Similar
in style to her old show, focuses on relationships,
families in crisis, and reunions. The show is
produced by Town House Productions. In the early
stages of the show, it was observed that repeats
of her ITV show have continued to achieve higher
ratings than her new programme on Five. In January
2009, Five announced it would not be renewing
her contract, for financial reasons.
Until 2007, the station screened quiz show BrainTeaser
which was presented by Alex Lovell. After four
years though, Brainteaser was withdrawn, following
the revelation that production staff were faking
winners on the programme's premium rate call-in
competition. Other game shows have since been
aired in daytime, including a new version of Going
For Gold and Wordplay.
In the afternoon the channel usually screens made-for-TV
From 2008, the station became the British home
for Australian soap Neighbours, and moved its
lunchtime showing of Home and Away in order to
lead out of Neighbours.
Lifestyle programmes form a major part of Five's
schedule. Former series include property shows,
such as House Doctor, presented by Ann Maurice,
Build A New Life In The Country and How Not to
Decorate, presented by Colin McAllister and Justin
Other lifestyle shows include The Hotel Inspector
and Diet Doctors.
Children and teenagers
Five's pre-school programming block Milkshake!
is shown from 6:00 to 9:00 am each day. The block
has a number of presenters, including Eddie Matthews
and Naomi Wilkinson, and features a range of pre-school
programming, including "Fifi & the Flowertots".
"Peppa Pig" and "Hi-5". Until
recently, the channel also had a block called
Shake! at weekends, which was aimed at an older
audience. However, Five recently removed the Shake!
block from its schedules, as Neighbours is taking
up the Saturday slot.
Five is also set to launch a new children's channel
based on Five's pre-school programming block.
This is a response to the BBC launching the CBBC
Channel and CBeebies in 2002 and ITV launching
the CITV Channel in 2006.
Drama and comedy
Five has aired a large number of American drama
series, including CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, The
Mentalist, Charmed, Criminal Minds, House, Law
& Order, L&O: SVU, L&O CI, NCIS, Grey's
Anatomy, Prison Break, Big Love and The Shield.
American sitcoms have also been shown on Five,
most notably Friends spin-off Joey.
Five has occasionally commissioned its own drama
series. In 2006, it co-commissioned Tripping Over
with Network Ten in Australia. Five also screened
Perfect Day, a commissioned British drama, in
2005. The success of this one-off drama led to
the commissioning of a prequel and a sequel, Perfect
Day: The Millennium and Perfect Day: The Funeral,
which were shown in 2006. In 2009, Five broadcast
a new version of Minder starring Shane Richie.
British sitcoms Suburban Shootout and Respectable,
and sketch show Swinging have also appeared.
Late-night sports programming has been a feature
of the channel since its original launch, especially
focusing on live or short-delay coverage of major
North American sports. Most notably, the channel
has covered Major League Baseball games, both
regular season and playoffs since its first night
on air. With the conclusion of Family Affairs,
Five's MLB baseball coverage was the longest continuously
run programme on the channel. Jonathan Gould is
the host, with former Great Britain national team
player Josh Chetwynd as the in-studio analyst.
Due to the Global recession of 2008-09 Five has
not renewed its contract to show Major League
Baseball in 2009. This leaves no Baseball available
on free to air television in the UK.
Until 2004, it also covered the regular season
and Stanley Cup playoffs of the National Hockey
League; following the lost 2004–05 season,
the primary broadcast rights passed to NASN. However,
since 2006-07, Five has relaunched its coverage
with a weekly NHL game on short-delay along with
highlights of other action from around the league.
Five has also acquired American football and basketball
coverage in the wake of Channel 4 dropping them.
In 2007, five renewed its NFL coverage with a
2-year deal to screen Monday Night Football and
NBC Sunday Night Football live (the latter coverage
begins once the MLB Playoffs and World Series
end). Nat Coombs hosts and Mike Carlson, a former
college-football player, is the studio analyst,
with game commentary taken from the American broadcasters.
Sky Sports simulcasts these games with its own
production, while the BBC holds rights to other
The NBA hosts are Mark Webster and Andre Alleyne,
the latter of whom took over as analyst from former
British NBA star John Amaechi. It generally follows
the model of Five's NHL coverage, a single midweek
game either live or on short-delay, plus a review
of the previous week's action. The coverage of
both sports has included forays into the NCAA
scene - notably the Rose Bowl and the NCAA Basketball
Tournament, even the Final Four. Currently, ESPN
America broadcasts many of the college sports.
On 18 February 2008, Five showed full live coverage
of the 2008 NBA All-Star Game.
Five shows a mix of European and international
club football, notably weekly matches or highlights
from the Netherlands Eredivisie, Portugal's SuperLiga,
Primera División Argentina and Copa Libertadores
from South America. They acquired the exclusive
live rights to the Italian Serie A, 2007/08 season,
but lost them for the following season. Five usually
show live early-round matches from the UEFA Cup
when British teams are involved; the package is
not centralized and thus coverage depends on which
teams Five can secure the rights to. ITV Sport
holds exclusive rights for the forthcoming season
from the quarter-finals onwards, regardless of
which teams get that far but Five will take over
the broadcasting of these games next season. Five
showed coverage of the 2008 FIFA World Club Championship
In 2007, the channel resumed coverage of Major
League Soccer (MLS) with a match between Toronto
FC and Los Angeles Galaxy on 4 August 2007; the
match was expected to be (but was not) David Beckham's
competitive debut as a Galaxy player. In the past,
the channel has shown other MLS matches on tape
delay or as highlights, generally in the same
manner as its coverage of European domestic leagues
(excluding Serie A). MLS coverage used to include
David Beckham's Soccer USA, a show presented by
Tim Lovejoy on Wednesdays at 7:15pm during the
season to show highlights of the week's matches,
funny moments and also interviews with David Beckham
on his latest match. Other guests make appearances
from time-to-time. The show will not return.
In 2005 Five began highlights coverage of all
of England's test and one-day cricket home matches.
This followed a period of much publicised success
for the English cricket team and when the exclusive
live rights to home England matches were controversially
awarded to Sky Sports, Five was a surprise choice
to pick up the highlights in the light of Channel
4's respected coverage and the BBC's previous
interest (the BBC did acquire exclusive radio
rights). Prior to Channel 4, the BBC had long
held the rights and Five were newcomers to cricket,
but the coverage has taken up where Channel 4
left off in its coverage (with the help of production
company Sunset + Vine) The new show also secured
former Channel 4 commentators such as Simon Hughes,
Geoffrey Boycott and the anchor of Channel 4's
coverage Mark Nicholas to offer expert analysis
on the day's play. Cricket on Five (which shows
daily highlights of England's matches) airs at
7:15 pm and has become extremely popular with
cricket fans. Its theme tune is "Shine"
by Shannon Noll.
The channel has also covered motorsports, most
notably Moto GP from 2000 to 2002 showing every
race live before rights were snapped up by the
BBC. Currently, Five hold rights to show weekly
highlights from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
They show highlights of the IndyCar series, although
this has been beset by cancellations, inaccurate
schueduling and technical difficulties. The channel
holds right to broadcast highlights from the A1
Grand Prix series.
For a brief time, Five showed professional wrestling
in the form of the WCW Worldwide show between
Summer 1999 and March 2001, when the company was
purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment, and
ceased to produce any more shows.
Golf coverage consists of weekly highlights from
the PGA Tour, excluding majors.
Five have recently signed a deal to broadcast
highlights of the UFC on terrestrial television
in the UK.
Quiz Call is broadcast simultaneously on Five,
Fiver and Five USA on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
nights between around 00:00 and 04:00/04:30.
The phone-in quiz show invites viewers to play
along for a chance to win cash prizes in return
for solving on-screen puzzles. Entrants must be
aged eighteen or over to participate and each
call and SMS text is charged whether an entrant
successfully gets through to the show or not.
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