Channel 5 (UK)

Channel 5 (UK)
Channel 5
Channel 5 logo 2011.svg
Channel 5 logo
Launched 30 March 1997 (1997-03-30)
Owned by Northern & Shell
Picture format 576i (SDTV 16:9, 4:3)
1080i (HDTV)
Audience share 4.7%
(August 2011, BARB)
Country United Kingdom
Formerly called Five (2002-2010)

Channel Five (2010-2011)

Sister channel(s) 5*
Analogue Normally tuned to 5
(To be phased out nationwide by 2012)
Freeview Channel 5
Freesat Channel 105
(Astra 28.2°E)
(UK only)
Channel 105
(Astra 28.2°E)
Channel 171 (HD)
(Astra 28.2°E)
Astra 28.2°E FTA 10.773 22.0 5/6
Virgin Media Channel 105
Channel 150 (HD)
Cablecom (Switzerland) Channel 167
(digital CH-D)
Smallworld Cable Channel 105
TalkTalk TV Channel 5
Internet television
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)

Channel 5 is a television network that broadcasts in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1997, it was the fifth and final national terrestrial analogue network to launch. The station was branded as Five between 2002 and 2010. After his purchase of the station from RTL on 23 July 2010, Richard Desmond announced plans to invest more money in programming and return to the name Channel 5 with immediate effect, prior to an official relaunch on 14 February 2011 which was also applied to 5 News.[1][2][3][4]

The new on-screen look for Channel 5 went live on 14 February 2011 with new idents, on-screen DOG and website address.[5] The relaunch has also seen investment in a range of new programming with the debut of the nightly entertainment show, OK! TV.[6][7] Audience figures for the relaunch were boosted with increased viewing figures for the main 5 News bulletins and improved figures for OK! TV in the 18:30 slot over its predecessor Live from Studio Five.[8]

The channel is a general entertainment channel, with internally commissioned shows such as The Gadget Show and Fifth Gear appearing alongside numerous international programmes such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Neighbours and Home and Away. The channel has historically had the lowest audience of Britain's five terrestrial television channels, usually lagging well behind its main four terrestrial rivals with a viewing share of around 5%. During live football coverage, the channel often enjoys significantly larger audiences as high as 12%.[9]

On 18 August 2011 Channel 5 launched a revived version of Big Brother UK, starting with Celebrity Big Brother followed by Big Brother 2011.[10] The format has been refreshed and revamped with new hosts and an opulent new look has been given to the house. The first Channel 5 housemates to enter the house included Kerry Katona and twins Jedward. The launch show received 5.3 million viewers, giving the channel its highest-ever audience for an entertainment show.[11]

The channel sponsor is the Nokia Lumia series of mobile phones.



Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited 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[12][13] (who a few months later retired his offer),[14] 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 Hollick, then CEO of Meridian Broadcasting (later United News & Media, and 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 became part of Bertelsmann and, control the network, after buying UBM's 35.4% stake for £247.6 million on 20 July 2005. The acquisition was approved on 26 August 2005. After Holleck became involved, he and McGrath brought on board Greg Dyke (later Director-General of the BBC) as interim CEO during the application and launch phase of the project.

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. Early in 2009, rumours started re-surfacing about Five, Channel 4 and ITV conducting a 3-way merger.[15]

Five was taken over by Richard Desmond's publishing group Northern & Shell on 23 July 2010 for £103.5 million.[16][17][18] Desmond pledged to top up the broadcaster's total budget to about £1.5bn over the next five years, including new investment of £50m to £100m a year to boost programming and the equivalent of £20m promoting the channel and its shows in a marketing campaign in Northern & Shell publications.[19] The takeover was partly motivated by the opportunities for cross-promotion of Five from Desmond's newspapers (Daily Express and Daily Star) and magazines (including OK!). One commentator warned that "readers will be bombarded with references to Five. The opportunity for cross-promotion between his publications and TV channel are enormous."[20]


Pre-launch activity

Wolf Olins and Saatchi & Saatchi were the main companies behind the pre-launch advertising campaign: "Give Me 5".[21] 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.[21]

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.[22]

After an exhaustive re-tuning system, 65% of the population could view the channel by launch night.

The launch

The channel's launch on 30 March 1997 at 18:00 featured the Spice Girls singing a re-written version of Manfred Mann's hit "5-4-3-2-1" as "1-2-3-4-5".[23][24] 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:[25]

Time Show Viewers (in millions)
Family Affairs
Two Little Boys
Beyond Fear
The Jack Docherty Show
The Comedy Store Special
Live and Dangerous
05:30 (31 March)
Give Me 5!

Overall, an estimated 2,490,000 tuned in to see Britain's fifth free network launch, a figure higher than that achieved by launch of Channel 4, fourteen and a half years earlier.

Re-brand as Five (2002)

On 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.

Desmond takeover (2011)

Upon completing his takeover of Five on 23 July 2010, Richard Desmond remarked; "I prefer Channel 5 to Five, but... we haven't met with the team yet to discuss these sort of details".[27] The day after, Desmond's Daily Express newspaper noted that the channel's name was to change: "From today the rather vague 'Five' (five what? Days of the week? Fingers?) reverts to the much more informative Channel 5".[1] On 11 August 2010, Desmond confirmed the restoration of the name from 1997–2002, Channel 5.[2] The restoration was revealed on television in 14 February 2011.

Multi-channel strategy

British television has undergone a lot of change since Channel 5'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.[28]

Following this, Five launched two new digital TV channels in autumn 2006 on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media:[29]

The 5* logo
  • 5* Launched on 15 October 2006, providing pre-school shows under the Milkshake! banner as well as drama, films, soaps, popular factual and lifestyle shows. The channel originally launched as Five Life, in 2008 it was renamed to Fiver and 5* in 2011
5USA Logo
  • 5USA Launched on 16 October 2006, offering drama, films, sport, comedy and youth programming from the USA. It originally launched as Five US, but in 2009, it changed from Five US to Five USA, and in 2011 to 5USA

Spin-offs from the broadcaster's existing hits are also aired on the sister channels.

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 satellite, TalkTalk TV, IPTV and Freeview digital terrestrial, and also most cable operators). On 5 November 2008, the channel launched on digital satellite service Freesat, on the Astra 28.2°E satellites.[30]

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 October 2007, the channel's logo returned to the screen.

Channel 5 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.

On 30 September 2009, Five temporarily ceased broadcasting on Freeview from around 09:30 until 12:00, this was due to changes to the Freeview platform, which meant moving Channel 5 from a commercial multiplex to a public service broadcasting multiplex to increase the coverage of the channel from around 70% to 99% across the country on relay transmitters that only carried the three PSB multiplexes but did not carry the three commercial multiplexes.

Channel 5 HD

The current Channel 5 HD logo (from 14 February 2011)

Channel 5 HD is a high-definition simulcast of Channel 5. The channel launched on Sky channel 171 and Virgin Media channel 150 on 13 July 2010.[31][32]

Upon the launch, only the Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away were shown in HD, with the letters HD placed in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Channel 5 HD will launch on Freeview in spring or early summer 2012 pending approval by Ofcom.[33][34]

Channel 5 +1

Channel 5 +1 will launch on Freesat, Freeview and Sky on 6 December 2011.[35][36] The channel is also expected to be made available via Virgin Media in 2012.[35]



The original Five logo (30 March 1997–16 September 2002)

The original Five logo was a numeric "Five" within a circle, sometimes accompanied by "candy stripes" of five colours (an idea based around the colour bars used by vision engineers to monitor picture output). Between 1997 and 2002, Channel 5 was the only UK terrestrial channel to display a digital on-screen graphic (DOG) in the top left-hand corner. On some programmes in the channel's early years, commercial breaks were introduced by an "end of part one" sign emerging horizontally from the DOG; when the programme returns after the break, this would become a "part two" sign, which then disappears back into the DOG.

On 14 April 1997, Teletext reported that 70% of viewers who took part in a poll were in favour of removing the DOG. Channel 5 however, refused to remove it; though did state since launch, the DOG had been toned down. Channel 5 explained their reasons for keeping the DOG on screen, in an interview on 30 March 1997, they explained that:[37]

Five's candy stripes are intended to join the Nike tick, the Levi's tab and the three Adidas stripes as signifiers of belonging...

Brand identity is the new holy grail of marketing... Product recognition is the winning move in the new consumer system. Five is being sold like a car or a running shoe. Not surprisingly it will be the first of our terrestrial channels to wear its own label on the outside... "Consumers are very brand-conscious these days..." "...and we are definitely describing ourselves as a very modern channel. It would be curious to launch an old-fashioned channel without an image in the era of Next, Levi's and Nike.

In 1999, Channel 5 launched its new 'white' idents, making the candy stripe more frequently used in idents and graphics. That also changed in 2000, when the last ident set came in 2002, marking a break from the 'Channel 5' branding. The latter was revived in 2011.


The first worded logo (16 September 2002–6 October 2008)

In 2002, Channel 5 took the decision to drop the word 'Channel' from its name and refer to the channel as 'five'. A new look launched on 16 September 2002. The informal name "Five" was used in early continuity announcements and idents containing a lower case 'five' had been used on the channel from the launch.


The former Channel 5 (FIVE) logo (6 October 2008–13 February 2011)

On 6 October 2008 at 21:00, Five aired a new look, replacing the lower-case "five" logo with an upper-case "FIVE". The rebrand was conducted by DixonBaxi, and according to them, the new look was "more vocal, expressive and creative."

The look was refreshed in July 2009, making the logo notably larger. As part of the refresh, special idents were made for popular shows such as The Mentalist, Paul Merton in Europe, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Gadget Show and FlashForward.


Current Channel 5 logo

After the takeover by Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell Group, major changes and considerable financial investment were promised by the new owners, alongside a return to the 'Channel 5' moniker.[38]

In October 2010, Desmond revealed the station's new look and confirmed its official on-screen identity as "Five" during a press launch.[39] Desmond promoted these changes in his tabloid newspapers, the Daily Express and Daily Star.[40] There is also cross-promotion between Northern & Shell's newspaper and magazine titles with their websites promoted on the Channel 5 website. In 2010, afternoon movies on Channel 5 were sponsored by the Daily Express.

The new logo for Five replaced the "FIVE" logo on 14 February 2011.[41] The logo is a "5" in a red circle. The extended version of the logo has the word "CHANNEL" in upper case font to its left. The launch DOG revived the "5" motif, originally as an opaque 5 cutout in a white circle. From 18 February 2011, the DOG was modified to a white translucent "5" on a faint grey circle.

A range of new idents for Channel 5 were launched in February 2011 incorporating the "5" motif featuring live action and CGI elements. They echo the predominantly red colour scheme of the channel's new corporate image, each based in a spacious studio with a large screen as the backdrop for the action. "Drums" features a female musician playing a drum kit against a backdrop of animated shapes with the "5" appearing on a screen behind. In "Equaliser", a "5" contained in a cube emerges from a graphic equaliser display. "Imagination" features a battle between a toy dinosaur and robot figure with the "5" logo imposed in neon lights (outlined). "VIP" features a model walking on a red carpet formed from the big screen with the logo formed out of the camera flashes. "Car Chase" features a police car chasing another car which eventually crash 'through' the big screen with the logo being on the side of the police car. Several special idents have also been used for 'The Hotel Inspector', 'The Walking Dead', 'Impossible?', 'Big Brother UK', 'The Bachelor', 'Europa League', and 'Nokia Lumia' also based around the same theme of the studio and screen.[42] Programme preview cards feature a the font "Gotham" in upper case. Break bumpers feature the "Five" logo in the left-hand corner of the screen with a pattern of circles radiating out from the logo in an alternating red and black colour scheme.[43] The latter continue to feature before and after each commercial.

Audience share

Five share of viewing since launch 1997-2008

Below is the official audience shares in percent for Channel 5 since 1997. The channel consistently has the lowest rating of the UK's five terrestrial television networks.

Audience share rose consistently for the first seven years of broadcast, reaching a peak of 6.6% in 2004. Two years later, however, the audience share had dropped to under 5%.

Year Audience share
4.7% (as of August)[45]


Channel 5, like all of the public service broadcasters, broadcast a wide variety of programming, The channel mainly broadcasts entertainment programming, such as reality television, game shows and imported american drama. The channel broadcasts sports events not covered by other broadcasters and also broadcasts its own news service, 5 News, which is at present contracted out to Sky News but due to return to ITN in 2012.[46] The channel airs documentaries and lifestyle programmes following the lives of so called '8 O'Clock Heroes'. The channel frequently sticks to a regular schedule, which includes the programme Home and Away at 18:00 followed by OK! TV at 18.25, 5 News at 19:00 and Big Brother (UK) later in the evening.

Flagship programmes for the channel include the early morning chat programme The Wright Stuff at 9:15am and afternoon Australian soap's Neighbours (at 13:45) and Home and Away (at 13:15) each weekday.

5 Text

From 1997-2011 Channel 5 provided it own analogue teletext service providing a basic range of programme listings, film summaries and programme previews of Channel 5 content. The service was provided by Sky Text for several years and later provided by BigStream Interactive in Surrey, UK. The service was withdrawn due to the digital switchover and shift to internet and social media.

See also


  1. ^ a b Abbott, Brendan (24 July 2010). "Channel 5: Great new era for British television". 
  2. ^ a b Sweeney, Mark 'Richard Desmond rebrands Five as Channel 5' The Guardian, 11 August 2010
  3. ^ 'Mini-revamp planned for Channel 5 News' ATV Network, 30 October 2010
  4. ^ 'The Wright Stuff/The Vanessa Show' Daily Star, 17 January 2011
  5. ^
  6. ^ Richard Desmond's Channel 5 to air reality show set in lesbian bar, 11 February 2011
  7. ^ Illusion show heads up Channel 5 season Digital Spy, 11 February 2011
  8. ^ Jason Deans Channel 5 relaunch does OK!, 15 February 2011
  9. ^ 'Monroe loses out to RND Desert Treck' Digital Spy 17 March 2011.
  10. ^ "Big Brother comes to Channel 5, Two year deal is signed for smash hit show. - Channel 5". Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Berlusconi tenta la carta inglese pronto per l' asta di Channel Five con Mike Bolland tra gli alleati" (in Italian). Corriere della Sera. 28 February 1992. Retrieved 17 June 2009. 
  13. ^ "Berlusconi fa l' Inglese: nel mirino 'Channel 5'" (in Italian). la Repubblica. 28 February 1992. Retrieved 17 June 2009. 
  14. ^ "BERLUSCONI rinuncia anche a Channel 5" (in Italian). la Repubblica. 7 May 1992. Retrieved 17 June 2009. 
  15. ^ Helen Power and Patrick Foster "ITV floats idea of merger with Channel 4 and Five", Times Online, 25 February 2009
  16. ^ "UK: Media tycoon Desmond seals deal for Five". The Spy Report (Media Spy). 24 July 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Robinson, James (23 July 2010). "Richard Desmond promises Channel Five 'investment, drive and leadership'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "RTL Group sells UK broadcaster Five" (Press release). RTL Group. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  19. ^ Sweney, Mark (27 July 2010). "Channel 5 chief reassures staff as experts question strategy". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ Chris Blackhurst Get ready Channel 5, Richard Desmond is on his way Evening Standard, 26 July 2010
  21. ^ a b "Channel 5 Give me five" (PDF). Wold Olins. Archived from the original on 25 September 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2007. 
  22. ^ "Channel 5 (UK) Pre-Launch Promo [1997]". YouTube. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  23. ^ “” (22 November 2008). "Spice Girls launch Channel 5 (UK)". YouTube. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  24. ^ "Power of Five" Lyrics, 365Lyrics; Retrieved 19 August 2009
  25. ^ "Channel 5". DOG Watch!. Andrew Wiseman's Television Room. Retrieved 11 February 2008. 
  26. ^ Hospital! (1997) Internet Movie Database
  27. ^ "New Five owner Desmond eyes Corrie". 23 July 2010. 
  28. ^ "RTL Group announces strategic relationship between Five and Top Up TV" (Press release). RTL Group. 18 November 2005. Retrieved 4 September 2006. 
  29. ^ "Five unveils digital TV channels". BBC News. 5 June 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2006. 
  30. ^ Patrick Goss (5 November 2008). "Five's Freesat arrival confirmed". TechRadar. 
  31. ^ "Five to Make HD Debut on Sky this Summer". British Sky Broadcasting. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  32. ^ "A Virgin Media high five for High Definition Five". Virgin Media. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  33. ^ "Response to Ofcom’s Third Invitation to Apply for DTT Multiplex B Capacity". Ofcom. 17 October 2011. 
  34. ^ "Channel 5 takes Freeview HD slot". Broadband TV News. 1 November 2011. 
  35. ^ a b "Desmond to launch Channel 5+1". The Guardian. 3 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "BARB reported channels". 7 November 2011. 
  37. ^ Channel 5 is Five Dog Watch!
  38. ^ 'Five to rebrand as Channel 5' Digital Spy, 11 August 2010
  39. ^ Jane Clinton Stars celebrate Channel 5 launch into stratosphere, 24 October 2010
  40. ^ Elisa Roche Stars celebrate Five's exciting future, 20 October 2010
  41. ^ Channel 5 welcomed into Desmond's family ATV Network, 20 October 2010; Retrieved 21 October 2010
  42. ^ Channel 5 Idents February 2011 - Present, 14 February 2011
  43. ^ Channel 5 : Current Idents The Ident Gallery, 14 February 2011
  44. ^ "BARB: Monthly Total Viewing Summary". Monthly Total Viewing Summary. BARB. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  45. ^ "BARB: Monthly Total Viewing Summary". Monthly Total Viewing Summary. BARB. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  46. ^ "ITN Re-Appointed to produce 5 News". ITN. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 

External links

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