Tuesday, 18 January 2011

“What Your Television’s Been Crying Out For.”

So, Sky have announced a major reshuffle of their channel line-up, with a lot of the more interesting channels being moved higher up the digital pecking order. What better time to take a look at that new line-up, as well as a glimpse back at what the Sky Digital EPG line-up was back in the 20th century? Right after this not-at-all-alarming photo of Rupert Murdoch from BSkyB’s Annual Shareholder’s Report, 2003.


We may have changed one tiny element of that picture.

From the first of February, the low end of the Sky entertainment section will look like this:

101    BBC ONE
102    BBC TWO
103    ITV1
104    Channel 4 / S4C
105    Five
106    Sky 1 (HD)
107    Sky Living (HD)
108    Sky Atlantic (HD)
109    Watch
110    GOLD
111    Dave
112    ComedyCentral (HD)
113    Universal (HD)
114    Syfy (HD)
115    BBC THREE
116    BBC FOUR
117    Channel 4 (Wales only)
118    ITV2 (HD)
119    ITV3 (HD)
120    ITV4 (HD)
121    Sky Living+1
122    Sky Livingit
123    Sky Livingit+1
124    FX (HD)
125    Sky Challenge
126    MTV
127    ComedyCentral+1
128    ComedyCentralX
129    Sky2
130    Sky Living Loves

image“Bye, Bravo. Don’t let the door hit you on the arse on your way out.”

A few points of interest:

ONE. Subscribers to Sky’s HD package will see HD versions of several channels automatically parachuted into the existing SD channel slots, where denoted above. So, if you’ve got a HD sub, channel 106 will now be Sky1 HD, though not for free-to-air HD channels like BBC One HD, ITV1 HD, Channel 4 HD or Five HD.

TWO. Many people who do subscribe to the HD packages might wonder why their Sky HD boxes don’t seem to be able to cram as many programmes into the available recording space as they used to. Record a couple of HD films, and you’ll soon find that a huge chunk of your Sky+ hard drive space has been taken up. If you record lots of programming, don’t forget to change those series links to the SD channels, folks.

THREE. Thankfully, this WON’T happen for people who own a Sky HD box, but who aren’t willing to stump up an extra tenner a month for a HD sub – for those people (including us), the SD versions of these channels will remain where you’d expect them. Good news, cynical old us really feared that Sky would have avoided doing this in order to ‘persuade’ us (i.e. annoy us) into giving them an extra monthly tenner for HD, or at least to make all the blocked channels we’d see go away.

FOUR. All the former Living TV Group channels, having since been bought by Sky, have been rebranded with a prefix reminding us who their new owner is. Call us miserable sods (go on, everyone else does), but seeing channels like “Sky Challenge” or “Sky Livingit +1” just sounds a bit naff. UKTV got wise to this kind of thinking a while back, and stupid name for a TV channel or not, we’ll wager many more people could tell you what kind of show they could expect to find on Dave than they could have when it had the horrendously clumsy moniker “UKTVG2”.

FIVE. The soon-to-launch Sky Atlantic does look like it’s going to be very good and we can’t wait to finally see Boardwalk Empire, but it would be nice if Sky pumped some of their vast fortune into new original British programming, instead of just waiting to see what’s popular in America (and, in many cases, then on BBC Four/Channel Four/Five) and then snapping up the rights to it. Instead of just buying up a load of HBO programmes, why not try making some of your own programmes good enough for HBO to take over there?


Aaaaanyway. Remember the olden days, when Sky Digital (as everyone called it in those days) seemed to rejig the channel listings every few months? Often because they’d decided to rename all their movie channels for the umpteenth time that year? We’ve had a sniff around the internet, and the most accurate channel rundown we can find seems to be from this Czech satellite TV website. Because we care, we’ve converted the listing into English (“Filmy? What the buggering shit does that mean in English?”) and present it here, to you, now, using words and square bracketed whimsy.

SKY DIGITAL EPG, 19th December 1999:

101 BBC One (Regional Version) - 24 hours
[The early Sky Digital broadcasts of BBC One and Two originally included a perpetual on-screen DOG. Happily however, it soon disappeared. Phew.]
102 BBC Two - 24 hours
[103 A message saying “If you want ITV, you’ll have to bally well press the ‘tv’ button on your TV remote and press ‘3’, because they’re determined to make a go of that OnDigital thing, the doomed fools”. Well, pretty much.]
104 Channel 4 (S4C in Wales see 184) - 24 hours
[Even now, people in Wales have to use channel 117 to get to Channel Four. Though until that point, if most of Wales wanted to watch Channel Four instead of S4C, they had to travel to England, so having to skip forward a few channels to get to it wasn’t really that much of an ordeal.]
105 Channel 5 - 24 hours
106 Sky One - 24 hours
[No Sky Two in those days, you’ll note. Back then, if you wanted to watch Ross Kemp On A Thing, you had to wait for it to be repeated. Ee, times was hard back then.]
109 UK Gold - 7am-2am (approx.)
110 UK Gold 2 - 6pm-2am (approx.)
112 Living - 6am-midnight
115 Disney Channel - 6am-midnight
[Yep, the Disney Channel wasn’t shoved in the Children’s menu in those days, even though you had to subscribe to the entire movie package to even receive this channel. Could we make a weak joke about the Sky EPG ‘Children’s Menu’ possibly playing host to a channel called “Chips, Burger and Beans”? Best not, everyone would immediately lose all respect for us.]
118 Granada Plus - 6am-midnight
121 Challenge TV - 6am-midnight
124 Bravo - noon-6am
127 Paramount Comedy - 7pm-4am
[This back when Paramount was especially excellent, and would have new content by the likes of Alexei Sayle, Sasha Baron Cohen, or a still-funny Lucas and Walliams. Mind you, they then had new material from Leigh Francis on there too, so y’know.]
130 Sci-fi Channel / Nova Shop - 7am-4am/4am-7am
133 Discovery Home & Leisure - 6am-midnight
136 Granada Breeze - 6am-9pm
139 Granada Men & Motors - 9pm-2am
[If sketchy memory serves, channel 142 was originally home to Sky Soap, only for it to fold soon after the launch of Sky Digital]
145 Sky Travel - 11am-4pm
148 UK Style - 7am-1am
151 UK Arena - 3pm-3am
[A wholly underrated channel that played host to repeats of Spike Milligan’s Q series. Bit of a shame UKTV don’t seem to have thought it’s worth restarting an archive culture channel since they killed this channel off, really.]
160 BBC Choice (Regional Version)/CBBC On Choice - Mon-Fri 5pm-midnight Sat-Sun noon-midnight/Mon-Fri 6am-5pm Sat-Sun 6am-noon
178 Tara - noon-midnight
[Another much-missed channel that showed the best original content from Ireland’s RTE network in the UK. Early evening fun with Zig & Zag? Enjoyable comedy panel show Don’t Feed The Gondolas? Six-One News? A really good indie music show that we can’t remember the name of? Huge shame this channel disappeared, and another one we’d love to see reappear. It’s not as if all of RTE’s original output has been snapped up by other UK broadcasters.]
181 Travel Channel - 8am-midnight
184 S4C (Channel 4 in Wales) - noon-midnight(approx.)
187 Rapture - 10am-6pm (Sat-Sun)

301 Sky Premier - 24 hours
302 Sky Premier 2 - 24 hours
303 Sky Premier 3 - 24 hours
304 Sky Premier 4 - 24 hours
305 Sky Premier Widescreen - Mon-Fri 8pm-midnight Sat-Sun 6pm - Midnight
308 Sky Moviemax - 24 hours
309 Sky Moviemax 2 - 24 hours
310 Sky Moviemax 3 - 24 hours
311 Sky Moviemax 4 - 24 hours
312 Sky Moviemax 5 - 24 hours
315 Sky Cinema - 24 hours
316 Sky Cinema 2 - 24 hours
324 Film Four - Mon-Fri 6pm-6am Sat-Sun 2pm-6am
327 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) - 24 hours

401 Sky Sports 1 - 24 hours(mostly)
402 Sky Sports 2 - 24 hours(mostly)
403 Sky Sports 3 - Mon-Thurs 11am(approx.)-11:30pm Fri-Sun 24 hours(mostly)
404 Sky Sports Extra - (Times Vary)
410 MUTV - 5pm-11pm
413 Sky Sports News - 24 hours
[Not long after this, the channel was briefly renamed “SkySports.com TV”, which is one of the stupidest names for a television channel ever.]
416 The Racing Channel - 11am-6pm
419 British Eurosport - 7am-1am(approx.)

480 Sky Business (Business Customers only)
501 Sky News - 24 hours
504 Bloomberg - 24 hours
507 BBC News 24 - 24 hours
508 BBC Parliament - 5am-midnight
510 CNBC - 24 hours
513 CNN - 24 hours
519 S4C2 - 24 hours

531 Discovery Channel - 8am-2am
532 Discovery Channel + 1hour - 9am-3am
533 Discovery Travel and Adventure - 8am-2am
534 Discovery Civilisation - 8am-2am
535 Discovery Sci-Trek - 8am-2am
538 National Geographic Channel - 11am-5am
539 National Geographic Channel + - noon-6am
540 Adventure One - 8am-2am
541 History Channel - 6am-midnight
544 UK Horizons - 7am-1am
547 .tv - noon-midnight
550 Discovery Animal Planet - 6am-midnight
553 BBC Knowledge - 5pm-midnight (Mon-Fri) 6am-noon (Sat-Sun)
[Where Charlie Brooker made his television debut, of course. Later turned into BBC Four, where more than a dozen people finally realised it existed.]

601 Cartoon Network - 24 hours
602 Cartoon Network + 1hour - 24 hours
604 Nickelodeon - 7am-10pm
605 Nick Replay - 8am-11pm
606 Nick Junior - 6am-7pm
607 Trouble - 6am-midnight
610 Fox Kids - 6am-10pm
611 Fox Kids + - 7am-11pm

631 MTV - 24 hours
632 MTV Extra - 24 hours
633 MTV Base - 24 hours
635 VH-1 - 24 hours
636 VH-1 Classic - 24 hours
638 M2 - 24 hours
[Easily the best music channel EVER. By which we mean, the music channel that played the kind of music we really like. Back when it was called M2 (as opposed to MTV2), the aim was to show great music videos as much as great music, with video directors being given equal billing to the bands. This meant the likes of Chris Cunningham or Hammer & Tongs were afforded as much of the credit as Squarepusher or Cornelius, and if none of those names mean anything to you, then we’d like to think we’re a lot cooler than you (though in fact, you’re probably just less geeky than us). Then it became MTV2, it realised that it’d better be a bit more mainstream if it wanted to sell any advertising space, and it became slightly less brilliant. It’s since become “MTV Rocks”, and as such badly needs to be killed with fire and sticks.]
641 The Box - 24 hours
644 UK Play - 24 hours
[A channel that really missed a trick by deciding to be located in the Music section. It was effectively “Radio One TV”, home to brand new entertainment shows from people like Mark & Lard and Chris Moyles, as well as some marvellously deranged scheduling, like repeats of Roobarb & Custard at midnight, presumably to attract the stoner audience. On top of everything else, it was the first (and only) UK channel to broadcast the final series of Duckman. And that’s why, like everything else we’ve ever truly loved, it went away forever, closing in 2002. SAD SMILEY FACE.]
650 QVC - 24 hours
653 TV Travel Shop - 24 hours
656 Shop! - 24 hours
[Yep, just three shopping channels. This listing truly is an artefact from the last century.]
667 B4U - 24 hours
670 Sony TV Asia - 24 hours
673 P CNE Chinese - 24 hours
676 Zee TV - 24 hours
677 Music Asia - 24 hours
679 Bangla TV - 9am-noon, 9pm-6am
680 Pakistani Channel - 6am-9am, noon-9pm
682 Asia TV 1 - 7am-midnight
691 The Christian Channel - 5am-1am
694 Inspiration Network - 24 hours

700 Sky Box Office Preview Channel - 24 hours -
701 Sky Box Office - 24 hours
758 Sky Box Office - 24 hours
760 Sky Box Office Widescreen - 24 hours
761 Sky Box Office Widescreen - 24 hours
765 18+ Movies - 10pm-6am
766 18+ Movies - 10pm-6am
767 18+ Movies - 10pm-6am
768 18+ Movies - 10pm-6am
770 Sky Box Office
800 U>Direct Films Preview - 24 hours
801 U>Direct Films - 24 hours
811 U>Direct Films - 24 hours
815 U>Direct Sports
[U>Direct was an admirable attempt to provide an alternative to Sky for getting to see first-run films without traipsing out to Blockbuster, even if they did use the slightly cheeky habit of marketing their pay-per-view movies as a “pay as you go service”. The network hit headlines in 2000 when they secured a deal to broadcast England’s World Cup qualifier against Finland  to the UK, at a cost of £10 per digibox, much to the chagrin of then-manager Kevin Keegan. U>Direct folded not too long after that.]

850 Music Choice - 24 hours
860 Music Choice - 24 hours
861 Music Choice - 24 hours
894 Music Choice - 24 hours

911 BBC Radio 1 - 24 hours
912 BBC Radio 2 - 24 hours
913 BBC Radio 3 - 24 hours
914 BBC Radio 4 FM - 24 hours
915 BBC Radio 5 Live - 24 hours
916 Classic FM - 24 hours
917 Virgin Radio - 24 hours
918 Talk Radio - 24 hours
919 Classic Gold - 24 hours
920 The Mix - 24 hours
921 Planet Rock - 24 hours
922 Core - 24 hours
923 Capital Gold - 24 hours
924 XFM - 24 hours
926 BBC World Service - 24 hours
927 BBC Radio Scotland - 24 hours
928 BBC Radio Wales - 24 hours
929 BBC Radio Ulster - 24 hours
930 BBC Asian Network - 24 hours
934 BBC Radio 4 LW - 24 hours

951 BBC Choice (Regional Version)/CBBC - Mon-Fri 5pm-midnight Sat-Sun noon-midnight/Mon-Fri 6am-5pm Sat-Sun 6am-noon
952 BBC Choice (Regional Version)/CBBC - Mon-Fri 5pm-midnight Sat-Sun noon-midnight/Mon-Fri 6am-5pm Sat-Sun 6am-noon
953 BBC Choice (Regional Version)/CBBC - Mon-Fri 5pm-midnight Sat-Sun noon-midnight/Mon-Fri 6am-5pm Sat-Sun 6am-noon
[In that well-meaning but pretty stupid manner that makes us so bloody proud of it at times – like a puppy barking at its reflection in a mirror – when digital TV launched in the UK, the BBC decided to launch BBC Choice, Auntie’s flagship digital channel, in four different regional flavours. Now, despite only a couple of hundred thousand people even having access to the channels at launch – and those viewers split between the hundred or so new channels on offer – when the Beeb made the decision to split that sure-to-be-tiny Choice audience into four even smaller chunks, we can’t help but wonder the tiny ratings that BBC Choice Northern Ireland or BBC Choice Wales picked up around the midnight slot. The four regional versions of Choice soon became one national version, the daytime hours handed over to CBBC (which meant no more weekend afternoons of Adam & Joe hosting live Glastonbury coverage – boo), then it all turned into BBC Three. The RDA, or Snog Marry Avoid? We’ll chalk up a win for the 1990s, if it’s all the same with you.]

970 Sky Digital Information Channel - 24 hours
971 Sky Digital Information Channel - 24 hours
972 Sky Digital Information Channel - 24 hours
974 Playboy TV/Adult Channel - 8pm-midnight/midnight-4am
977 Television X: The Fantasy Channel - 10pm-5:30am
980 Adult Nightly (Midnight Blue) - midnight-4am
981 Adult Nightly (Playboy TV/Adult Channel) - 10pm-midnight/ midnight-4am
997 Sky Retail Information Channel - 24 hours
998 Sky Guide Information Channel - 24 hours
999 Sky Digital Information Channel - 24 hours

Those were the days, eh? Best of all, that line-up was flogged to the world using this tremendously expensive and in no way overblown commercial.


The new Sky EPG line-up kicks on on the 1st of February, while the late-1990s Sky EPG line-up will remain in our hearts forever.


6 .:

Simon said...

The indie show on Tara would have been No Disco. Don't Feed The Gondolas had a tyro Dara O'Briain as a team captain, the other being someone who looked like an even more crushed in a vice Adrian Chiles.

Which particular relaunch of Rapture would that have been? It appeared and disappeared at least three times.

I always liked that early launch of MTV UK in a way because, Donna Air as face of the channel notwithstanding (you should have seen the day she interviewed Bis), it was a channel with a lot of live programming space and no shortage of presenters to throw at it, and so pretty much all of their roster of the time became famous within a couple of years - Cat Deeley, Richard Blackwood, Zane Lowe, Edith Bowman (who didn't get work anywhere else for years, probably not until RI:SE), Emma Ledden (of Live & Kicking failure fame; now runs a media training consultancy), Justin Lee Collins (who did overblown comedy bits and gives over three pages of his autobiography to his meeting Catch), June Sarpong, all them.

Mark X said...

Of COURSE it was No Disco. Silly me.

At the time, I think it was the version of Rapture before they realised they could fill a ton of broadcasting hours by simply shoving a camcorder in a nightclub for an evening and then call the resulting footage an evening's programming.

I could never really enjoy MTV UK, because it spelled the end for MTV Europe. MTV Europe was utterly brilliant. Not only did we get to enjoy the antics of Ray Cokes, seeing Front 242 (circa Up Evil/Off), Die Krupps and Members Of Mayday making up much of the daytime playlist, but every single commercial break was thrilling, with a load of ads not seen anywhere else (even if there was a 30% chance it'd be for TV Spielfilm). And that's before the MTV Europe live Christmas special starring Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, of which I've sadly only seen a single clip on the MTV: 15 Years In Europe documentary ("He's not just a cuntfuck... he's also a fuckcunt!", or something, I'd need to check.)

Having MTV Europe's budget split eight ways in order to make up the different national variations (alongside a stripped down 'MTV Europe' which went to the European nations too small to get their own versions of the channel) just couldn't compare, sadly.

Simon said...

Oh, of course none of that is to deny the weirdness when you (well, I) first got Sky in 1995 and were confronted by this pan-European mess of stuff. By the end, apart from the couple of months Lee and Herring did a show for, it had got too route-one and needed refocusing its core making-it-up-as-we-go-along - dance and Britpop had taken over the playlist from oddness, Cokes had long disappeared after the Hamburg live OB disaster and they were hiring lots of people who couldn't speak well English but knew their American accents and a lot of the charming people had gone. Although if you'd ever wondered where Crispin off The Day Today's Sorted! had gone, there he was. Seems he runs a bar in Mexico City now. He's everything in entertainment Morris ever stood against.

You know Simone is married to Andy Hunt ex-Charlton and lives in Belize, yes?

shweeney said...

RTE have on their To-Do list a channel called "RTE International" which will broadcast on Sky and Freesat showing news, homegrown stuff and archive material.

Sadly the collapse of our economy here has probably delayed the launch of this so you Brits will have to wait a while before you can appreciate the full horror of "Raw" "Fade St" or "The Clinic".

Mike Landers said...

If "RTE International" decide to broadcast whichever shite Katherine Lynch is pumping out at any moment in time, I can imagine the IMF getting on the first plane out of Dublin and shouting "Forget about giving us the money back"

Applemask said...

I discovered Duckman via UK Play, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Oh, those heady days of borrowing the OnDigital box (shut up) to watch the Champions League, and invariably ending up skimming through Only Fools and Horses, the original Family Guy, Titus, and any number of nonsensical, thrown-together vehicles for Simon Munnery or Leigh Francis on Play.

Oh, and I loved the CBBC repeats on daytime BBC Choice, because they just randomly raided their archive from my childhood. It's still the last place I ever saw Pigeon Street, Brum, and A Bear Behind.


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