BBC Prime

BBC Prime

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BBC Prime was the BBC's general entertainment TV channel in Europe and the Middle East from 30 January 1995 until 11 November 2009, when it was replaced by BBC Entertainment
BBC Entertainment
BBC Entertainment is an international television channel showcasing comedy, drama, light entertainment and children's programming from the BBC and other UK production houses...

.

Launch


The channel was launched at 20.00 GMT on Thursday 26 January 1995 when the former BBC World Service Television
BBC World Service Television
BBC World Service Television, often abbreviated to WSTV, was the name given to two of the BBC's international satellite television channels between 1991 and 1995. It was the BBC's first foray into worldwide television broadcasting...

 was split into two separate channels: BBC World for factual and news programmes, and BBC Prime for entertainment programmes.

Programming


The channel broadcast drama, comedy and lifestyle programmes which it repeated on a monthly basis. Once, it allocated six hours per day for educational programmes from BBC Learning (shown in the European small hours
Small Hours
Small Hours is the current late night radio show hosted by Donal Dineen on Today FM. It commenced broadcasting in 2004, following the seven-year tenure of Here Comes the Night...

); this practice was abandoned in August 2006 "with the intention of improving the relevance and appeal of the channel to the widest audience". It also included a special children's strand, using the CBBC
CBBC
CBBC is one of two brand names used for the BBC's children's television strands. Between 1985 and 2002, CBBC was the name given to all the BBC's programmes on TV for children aged under 14...

 brand and idents, by the name of CBBC on BBC Prime, or CBBC Prime.

When it first launched, BBC Prime also carried programming from the former ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 company Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

, as BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

 had a joint venture, known as European Channel Management, with Thames's parent company, Pearson
Pearson PLC
Pearson plc is a global media and education company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is both the largest education company and the largest book publisher in the world, with consumer imprints including Penguin, Dorling Kindersley and Ladybird...

. This venture was later dissolved, and programmes like The Bill
The Bill
The Bill is a police procedural television series that ran from October 1984 to August 2010. It focused on the lives and work of one shift of police officers, rather than on any particular aspect of police work...

were no longer carried. Owing to rights issues, much of the programming on BBC Prime was from the Corporation's archive.

Controversy


The channel's emphasis on archive programming caused considerable annoyance to many British expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

 viewers, who had much preferred the mix of BBC One and Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 previously offered by BBC TV Europe
BBC TV Europe
BBC TV Europe was a BBC subscription-funded television service founded in 1987 serving continental Europe. It was available on satellite and cable....

 and BBC World Service Television
BBC World Service Television
BBC World Service Television, often abbreviated to WSTV, was the name given to two of the BBC's international satellite television channels between 1991 and 1995. It was the BBC's first foray into worldwide television broadcasting...

. However, the BBC has defended the inclusion of older programmes in the schedule, on the grounds that "for the majority of our viewers, this is the first chance to see these programmes, and often the only way to view them". Consequently, many people in mainland Europe bought viewing cards to receive full broadcasts of BBC One and Two from the UK, when they became available on satellite in 1998. This prompted GBC
Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation
The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation is Gibraltar's public service broadcaster. It has provided the community with a radio and television service since 1963.-History:...

 in Gibraltar to end terrestrial retransmission of BBC Prime in 1999. Even after the BBC switched to broadcasting unencrypted on a satellite with a much weaker signal
Astra 2D
Astra 2D is one of a group of Astra communications satellites operated by SES, located at 28.2° east in the Clarke Belt. It is a Hughes HS-376 craft, and was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in December 2000....

, many people in Spain and elsewhere could still receive these signals, particularly those who already had large satellite dishes.

Funding


Unlike the BBC's domestic channels, and some of their foreign channels paid for by the UK Foreign Office, BBC Prime was funded by subscription available either as part of a satellite package or as a stand-alone channel. It was also funded by adverts placed on the channel in breaks, and because of this, it is not available in the UK. Much of BBC Prime's programming was available to watch through BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

, Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 or the UKTV
UKTV
UKTV is a digital cable and satellite television network, formed through a joint venture between BBC Worldwide, a commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Scripps Networks Interactive, spun off from The E.W Scripps Company in 2008...

 network, part owned by the BBC and showing archive programming.

Availability


The channel was available in many areas through satellite
Satellite television
Satellite television is television programming delivered by the means of communications satellite and received by an outdoor antenna, usually a parabolic mirror generally referred to as a satellite dish, and as far as household usage is concerned, a satellite receiver either in the form of an...

 and cable television
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

  • In the Netherlands
    Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

     and Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    , the channel is available on cable, alongside BBC One
    BBC One
    BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

    , BBC Two
    BBC Two
    BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

     and BBC World News.
  • It is available on digital terrestrial television
    Digital terrestrial television
    Digital terrestrial television is the technological evolution of broadcast television and advance from analog television, which broadcasts land-based signals...

     (DTT) in the Netherlands
    Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

     and Malta
    Malta
    Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

    .
  • In Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    , it is available on Türksat Cable TV and Digiturk
    Digiturk
    Digiturk is a Turkish Satellite television provider, founded in 1999, with services starting in mid-2000. They offer, both national cable TV channels and their own channels, national radio, and music streams of different genres. Digiturk is also the current owner of the broadcasting rights of...

    .
  • In Italy
    Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

    , it is available on SKY Italia
    Sky Italia
    Sky Italia S.r.l. is an Italian digital satellite television platform owned by News Corporation launched on 1 August 2003, when the former platforms TELE+ and Stream TV merged together...

    .
  • The South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

     service was launched in 1999 and contained some different programmes to that broadcast in Europe, due to some programmes already being licensed to other channels.
  • The Asia
    Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

     service was launched on the 1 December 2004 and had a different schedule to that of the Europe service to reflect the different time zones, and cultural practices. It was available in Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

     (on Now TV
    Now TV
    Now TV is a 24-hour pay-TV service provider in Hong Kong.It is transmitted through the company's Netvigator broadband network via an IPTV service...

    's Channel 529), Thailand
    Thailand
    Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

     (on TrueVisions
    TrueVisions
    TrueVisions is Thailand's leading cable satellite television operator, broadcasting largely in English. Now owned by the True Corporation, the company was formerly known as the United Broadcasting Corporation , but it was rebranded in February 2007....

    ' (Channel 35), Singapore
    Singapore
    Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

     (on StarHub TV's Channel 76) and South Korea (on Skylife
    SkyLife
    KT Skylife is a satellite broadcasting provider of South Korea.-Brief history:* December 19, 2000 - Korean Government decided as the official satellite television provider * March 30, 2001 - Established company...

    's Channel 334).


In order to cater to a wider audience, who do not have English their first language, BBC Prime carried subtitles in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Czech, Polish, Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

, Hungarian, Italian, Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 and Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

. The asian service also had subtitles in Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

, and Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

.

A similar channel, called BBC Japan
BBC Japan
BBC Japan was a television channel from the BBC available via satellite in Japan. Similar in format to BBC Prime , BBC Japan showed such BBC programmes as Blackadder and Fawlty Towers, with many of them subtitled in Japanese....

, launched in Japan on 1 December 2004, but ceased broadcasting on 30 April 2006 owing to problems with its local distributor.

Replacement by BBC Entertainment


In September 2006 it was announced that the BBC Prime brand was to be phased out and replaced by BBC Entertainment
BBC Entertainment
BBC Entertainment is an international television channel showcasing comedy, drama, light entertainment and children's programming from the BBC and other UK production houses...

, one of a number of new international channels planned by BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

.
The process began with the Asian services, which switched on the 6 October 2006, followed by the South African service on the 1 October 2008.. BBC Prime was completely replaced by BBC Entertainment on 11 November 2009.

External links