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Five 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.


Channel 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 at all.

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 the project.


Pre-Launch Activity
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 launch
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 follows:
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 - (1.70m)
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 and brand.

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. ”

Merger rumours
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 2005.

Early in 2009, rumours started re-surfacing about Five, Channel 4 and ITV conducting a 3-way merger.

Multi-channel strategy
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 Kingdom).
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.[8]
Following this, Five launched two new digital TV channels in autumn 2006 on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media:

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 them.

Broadcasting and reception

The 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 signal.

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 satellites.

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 screen.

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 Shopping.

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[14] 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 Christmas Lectures.

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 to 2003.

The format rights for a UK version of The Mole were acquired, and the show was well received: the website 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 collect semen.

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 movies.
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 Ryan.

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.
Five News


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.

Ice Hockey
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.

American Football
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 NFL coverage.

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.

Participation TV
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.
[edit]Past and present branding. (Credit: Wikipedia)


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