I’ve had a Freeview box ever since the launch in November 2002. A while ago I had an idea to write a piece on here called “The A-Z Of Freeview” where I would have a look at the current line-up and share my memories of watching various channels. However I’ve barely watched channels such as Al Jazeera so I thought that I wouldn’t have much to say. So I decided that it would be a much more interesting idea to have a look back at some channels that are no longer available on Freeview and have a think about what happened to them. This will be in two parts. It isn’t going to be a comprehensive list, it won’t include channels such as text services, blank screens, Top-Up TV channels and radio stations, and I’ve probably forgotten at least one I wanted to write about, it’s just the TV channels that I remember that for whatever reason have come and gone.
ABC1. A spin-off from the American channel ABC. It showed various imports but every time I watched they seemed to be showing the sitcom Home Improvement.
Argos TV. A shopping channel spin-off from the department store. I did watch occasionally when I noticed that a few ex-Bid presenters where among the line-up but it didn’t last long.
BBC Choice. A channel that had been around since the earliest days of digital TV and was replaced by BBC3 in 2003.
Bid TV. I still can’t believe it really. This was a very enjoyable channel to watch, for a bit. Big Deal. The last gasp of the quiz channel boom, and again seemingly featuring lots of ex-Bid presenters on the lineup. One of the last times I watched if you could phone in and find a correct answer you would win £10. Unsurprisingly they closed not long after. Bonanza Bonanza. A terrible channel showing scratched copies of public domain out of copyright 50-year-old TV shows, which every time I watched seemed it to be the same episode of The Lucy Show. How strange.
CBM. This channel actually didn’t even launch. I think it was going to be a film channel but we never found out.
Channel One. A renamed Virgin1. Not to be confused with the 90s cable channel of the same name.
Chart Show TV. A music channel that I liked that was a relative of The Chart Show, but it was only available for a short time and now it’s only on Freeview in Manchester which isn’t of much use to me.
CNN International. A news channel that was only on Freeview for a few hours so it always frustrated viewers when a news story was starting to develop and then they went off air for the night.
Five Life. The first additional channel from Five, which was then renamed Fiver before becoming 5*.
FTN. A channel featuring shows from various channels including Challenge and Living. They seemed to show the Australian sitcom Kath And Kim a lot before they started to show classic game shows like The Krypton Factor and Bullseye. As this was before Challenge itself came to Freeview it gave the ratings a big old boost before being replaced by Virgin1. The Hits. This channel had a playlist of the latest pop videos and you’d phone in to select what one you’d like to watch. Replaced by 4Music but The Hits Radio continues on Freeview.
Ideal Extra. A spin-off from shopping channel Ideal World if you hadn’t had enough bargains already.
ITN. A news channel that closed in 2005 after competing with BBC News 24 and Sky News.
ITV Play. A quiz channel that was enjoyable when they showed Quizmania for hours on end before it was taken off air.
JML. A infomercial-type channel which every time I turned it on seemed to be flogging something called the Exakt Saw. Call now! Lottery Xtra. Something to do with the National Lottery, it was only on for an hour a day.
I’ll return with part two next.