TBS (TV channel): Wikis

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TBS
PerfectTBS.svg
Launched December 17, 1976
Owned by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
(a Time Warner company)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Slogan Very Funny
Country United States
Philippines
United Kingdom
Broadcast area United States
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Formerly called SuperStation WTBS (1976–1984)
SuperStation TBS (1985–1989)
TBS Superstation (1989-1990, 1996-2004)
TBS (1990-1996, 2004-present)
Sister channel(s) TNT
CNN
Cartoon Network
TCM
Website www.tbs.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV Channel 247
Channel 1247 (VOD)
Dish Network Channel 139
Cable
Available on most cable systems in the United States Check local listings for channels
IPTV
AT&T U-Verse
(US)
Channel 112 (SD)
Channel 1112 (HD)

TBS is an American cable television channel owned by Time Warner that shows sports and a variety of programming, with a focus on comedy.

TBS (which stands for Turner Broadcasting System) was originally known as WTCG, a UHF terrestrial television station that broadcast from Atlanta, Georgia, during the late 1970s. WTCG reportedly stood for "Watch This Channel Grow" (although the "TCG" officially stood for Turner Communications Group, the forerunner to Turner Broadcasting System).

Contents

Availability

TBS is a national cable channel, available throughout the entire United States. Until October 1, 2007, the national TBS feed could not be viewed within its home market of the Atlanta metropolitan area, due to the over-the-air presence of WTBS, which carried a nearly identical schedule, plus the required public affairs programming and E/I programming for children.

The operations of WTBS (channel 17) and TBS Superstation were split in October 2007, with the over-the-air channel becoming WPCH-TV, a general-entertainment independent station focused on the Atlanta area only. For the first time, the national TBS feed is available to cable and satellite subscribers within channel 17's viewing area.

Due to a technicality, cable and satellite companies in Canada are only permitted to carry the over-the-air Atlanta station, and therefore most now carry WPCH ("Peachtree TV") instead of the nationwide TBS channel that American viewers receive.[1] This dated back to prior to the change, when TBS programming was offered to Canadian viewers through WTBS, not the national cable channel. Many cable companies were apparently unaware of the changeover until after it occurred.[2] As a result, should Canadian cable companies wish to air "cable" TBS, it will be several months before the necessary approvals are received. It is also available in the Philippines and the United Kingdom on their various cable providers.

History

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Early years: 1969-1975

WTCG, which dated back to 1969 as a terrestrial station, had been microwaved from that time to many areas of the Southeastern United States by cable companies picking up the UHF channel 17 signal up off-air and microwaving (sometimes several times) the signal back to their headends. Early programming included movies from the 1930s and 1940s; old sitcoms like Hazel, Father Knows Best, Green Acres, The Lucy Show, I Love Lucy, among others; and Japanese animated shows like Speed Racer, Ultraman, Astro Boy, Space Giants, Kimba the White Lion, and Marine Boy. The station also carried sports such as Atlanta Braves baseball, Atlanta Hawks, and professional wrestling.

WTCG also bid very low on programming, causing network affiliates in the market to get the stronger shows. But due to commitments that the affiliates had to their networks, they kept the shows only a couple years and rarely renewed them. At that point WTCG would buy second hand shows at a much lower price. By the mid 1970s, shows like Star Trek, The Flintstones, The Little Rascals, The Three Stooges, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, and many others moved onto the schedule.

Back in 1976, most markets below the top 20 lacked independent stations running general entertainment and generally had only ABC, NBC, CBS, and an educational station. Cable systems in such areas carried stations from neighboring markets and if possible the independent station (often between 60 and 200 miles away). In some markets, however, due to extreme distances, this was not an option. This left cable systems with three markets lacking an independent station and two to three affiliates from each major network.

WTCG gets beamed via satellite (1976-1978)

As a result, Ted Turner decided to offer his station nationwide through satellite, enabling WTCG to be received nationwide, especially in markets lacking even a distant independent station. At 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 17, 1976, WTCG's signal was beamed via the Satcom 1 satellite to four cable systems in Grand Island, Nebraska; Newport News, Virginia; Troy, Alabama; and Newton, Kansas. All four cable systems started receiving the sleepy 1948 Dana Andrews and Cesar Romero film Deep Waters, which had been in progress 30 minutes. Instantly, WTCG went from its status as a small independent television station that was available only in Georgia and neighboring states to a major coast-to-coast operation. WTCG became a so-called "superstation" and set a precedent for today's basic cable television. By 1978, WTCG was on cable systems in all 50 states.

HBO had moved to satellite transmissions to distribute its signal nationally in 1975, but that was a service cable subscribers were required to pay extra to receive. Ted Turner's innovation signaled the start of the basic cable revolution.

Initial change to WTBS (1979-1990)

WTCG was renamed WTBS in 1979. The new call letters were acquired via a monetary donation to the MIT student radio station, now WMBR. In the late '70s, WTBS continued to acquire second hand programming such as Popeye made for TV cartoons, The Brady Bunch, The Munsters, and others. They did manage to acquire reruns of All in the Family and Sanford and Son in 1979 as well as Little House on the Prairie and CHiPs in 1981. Other older shows would fall off the schedule. Movies from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s would also be mixed into the schedule more.

The channel 17 transmitter is located at 1018 West Peachtree Street Northwest, with the antenna located on a large self-supporting tower. The building at this site was once home to the studios of WAGA-TV and, later, channel 17, during its first three years under the callsign WJRJ. Soon after being purchased by Turner, the studios were moved to the former Progressive Club site, a few blocks west.

Initially, WTCG was identified as "Channel 17" both locally in Atlanta and on cable systems outside of Atlanta. Also, the same exact shows that ran locally ran nationally. In 1979, Turner changed the callsign to WTBS, branding it "Superstation WTBS" with "17" as part of the logo. Many cable systems throughout the country even carried the channel on its customary channel 17 position.

In 1981, Turner decided to have all shows continue to air both locally and nationally, but to separate the feeds. The station would be known locally in Atlanta as "Superstation 17." The terrestrial signal would continue to air local commercials as well. Nationally, though, the station would not mention the channel number "17" and would have logos identifying it only as "Superstation WTBS". Separate national advertising or per inquiry ads would air on the superstation feed.

The MGM library and 1970s-1980s: Sitcoms come to TBS (1986-1997)

In the 1980s, WTBS focused heavily on movies running two during the day and all movies after 8 p.m. with the exception of sports events. Other times, WTBS continued to run mostly classic sitcoms, and vintage cartoons. In 1986, with Ted Turner's purchase of MGM, WTBS now had the rights to the entire MGM library as well (including certain acquisitions by MGM). This gave WTBS many theatrical cartoons like Tom and Jerry as well as shows like Gilligan's Island and The Addams Family. WTBS began to run The Little Rascals, Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons released prior to 8/1/1948, theatrical Popeye cartoons, and Three Stooges shorts under the banner Tom & Jerry and Friends between an hour and 90 minutes in the mornings and for an hour in the afternoons from 1986 to the mid 1990s. In the late 1980s, they decreased movies slightly during the day and began to add '70s sitcoms like Happy Days, The Jeffersons, Good Times, One Day at a Time, and others to the evening lineup. Little House on the Prairie ran late mornings continuously from 1986 to 2003.

Music videos were also aired from 1983 to 1992 on its late night weekend lineup branded as Night Tracks with up to 14 hours of programming (barring constant preemptions from sporting events running overtime).

Beginning in 1991, a handful of national shows (mostly movies) were pre-empted locally in order to broadcast FCC-mandated news, public service, and children's programming. This continued until the switchover to Peachtree TV. Programming on WTBS has always been Syndex proof. TBS was licensed to run all programming not only for the Atlanta market, but nationally. Most of these shows run nationally were also syndicated in local markets on the respective local stations through additional agreements.

Throughout the 1980s to the early 1990s, TBS also carried the Electra teletext service on its VBI. Electra was discontinued in 1993 due to a lack of funding.

In the early 1990s, shows like The Flintstones, Brady Bunch, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, Gilligan's Island, and others remained on the schedule as other older shows such as Three Stooges, Little Rascals, Leave it to Beaver fell off and made way for more '80s sitcoms such as Who's the Boss?, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Perfect Strangers, Family Ties, Saved by the Bell, and others. Original animated programming such as Captain Planet and the Planeteers, 2 Stupid Dogs, and Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron were added as well.

Moving away from animated and dramatic programming (1998-present)

In 1998, due to restrictions on children's advertising, as well as the move of better cartoons to cable, WTBS dropped all the cartoons that fall and moved those exclusively to Cartoon Network and also eventually to Boomerang. WTBS continued to run a mix of movies, sitcoms, and drama shows. By 2001, shows like Full House, Family Matters, Cosby, Friends, Seinfeld, Home Improvement, and other '90s sitcoms moved onto the schedule. In 2003, WTBS dropped Little House on the Prairie and other drama shows. They also moved away from drama movies.

Currently, the focus of TBS is now comedy-related, focusing mostly on sitcom reruns and originally-produced reality series and comedy feature films, using the slogan "Very Funny." It is intended as a direct contrast to sister channel TNT, which had focused on old movies initially but moved toward and now focuses on drama-related programs and recent drama movies.

On September 1, 2007, a high definition version of the "Superstation" feed of TBS was launched. A digital version of WTBS could already be viewed over-the-air in Atlanta prior to September 1, which was replaced by the "Superstation" HD simulcast, instead of simulcasting Peachtree TV.

Some examples of programs that currently air on TBS are Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Married... with Children, and others. In prime-time, Family Guy, My Name Is Earl, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Just Shoot Me! and The Office are broadcast on certain days of the week.

The WTBS-TBS split

In late June 2007, Turner Broadcasting announced that WTBS would change call letters and become WPCH-TV, and would be branded as Peachtree TV. According to Turner, the new channel 17 would offer sitcoms and movies geared specifically toward an Atlanta audience. The new station would also broadcast 45 Atlanta Braves baseball games next season. The change occurred on October 1. In addition, the channel 17 change allowed Atlanta cable and satellite television viewers, for the first time since the early 1980s, to receive the national TBS signal as of that date.[3] Most cable and satellite companies previously carried WTBS's local Atlanta signal instead of the national TBS channel. Following the change, cable systems in Canada were legally required to continue carrying the local Peachtree TV signal, instead of switching to the national TBS feed.[4]

Over the years TBS has had several logos and name changes. From 1979 the name was SuperStation WTBS. In 1987, the "W" from the "TBS" name was dropped to emphasize the channel's national programming prominence, with WTBS in Atlanta assigned the brand Superstation 17. On September 28, 1989, SuperStation TBS was renamed to TBS Superstation to reflect the strong national standing of the channel. In 1990, the word Superstation was removed from the on-air logos and ads and remained that way until December 17, 1996, when TBS celebrated its 20th national anniversary by bringing back the word "Superstation." This branding would last until early 2004, when "Superstation" was once again dropped months before the current TBS logo was adopted.

Programming overview

Turner Time

On June 29, 1981, TBS Superstation began to use "Turner Time."[5] While other television offerings generally began at the top and bottom of each hour, TBS decided to begin airing programs five minutes later, at :05 and :35.

By using "Turner Time," TBS Superstation programs were listed under their own time entry in TV Guide, thus enabling the program listings to catch potential viewers' eyes more readily. It also encouraged channel surfers who could not find anything interesting to watch at the top of the hour, to still be able to watch a TBS program without missing the first few minutes. Most importantly from a strategic standpoint, since shows ended five minutes later than normal, the off-time scheduling usually encouraged viewers to continue watching TBS rather than flip to watch another program already in progress.

TBS Superstation started to cut back Turner Time in 1997 and scrapped it completely by 2000. Normally, TBS now schedules programs conventionally, at the top and bottom of the hour. However, movies that run anywhere between 2 and 2½ hours, will cause unconventional start times to be used (for example, such a movie that starts at 7:00pm may cause subsequent programming to start within the half-hour, such as at :15 and :45. This often causes major disruptions in the start times of programming. In some circumstances, conventional "top-and-bottom" start times would not be restored until the next day). While this is not exactly related to the "Turner Time" technique, it could strategically serve the same purposes due to the off-time scheduling.

News

One type of programming that TBS does not produce presently is news. Nevertheless, TBS Superstation did produce a twenty-minute newscast from 1976 to 1979. The program, entitled 17 Update Early in the Morning, was taped at the end of the workday and aired around 3 or 4 a.m. Eastern between movies. Its format was similar to NBC's Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update and was, to a certain extent, a forerunner to Comedy Central's The Daily Show. The time slot and the snide content were a reaction to FCC rules at the time requiring stations to carry some news and informational content—although TBS had to broadcast news, the FCC couldn't say when it aired or demand that the news have a serious tone. The news show was cancelled months before Turner began his serious news venture - CNN.

TBS Superstation also began airing its own newscast called TBS Evening News, which was produced by CNN. The one-hour program ran usually at 10 p.m. Eastern on weeknights during the early 1980s.

In the Atlanta area, WTBS on channel 17 simulcast 30 minutes of HLN at 6 a.m. This was only carried in Atlanta and those cable systems receiving the local feed. Currently as WPCH-TV, HLN is simulcast for one full hour at 6 a.m.

Movies

TBS airs movies mostly of the comedy genre due to its format, and frequently airs them interspersed with other content and commentary. Dinner and a Movie includes cooking, while Movie and a Makeover adds fashion content. Every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the 1983 film A Christmas Story airs for 24 hours.

Upcoming series/pilots

  • Frat House: The cable channel has ordered a presentation for a tentatively titled half-hour late-night project from Bunim-Murray that is in the vein of Old School. The project follows three comedian-hosts -- Bret Ernst, Theo Von and Bert Kreischer -- as they lead a band of guys, each at a crossroads, who long for the simpler, raucous days of life in a frat house. Bunin-Murray's credits include The Real World and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
  • The TBS Comedy Roadshow: a contemporary take on vaudeville hosted by Harland Williams.
  • The Very Funny Show:10 episodes' worth of content for the show will be shot at the channel's July event entitled "TBS Presents A Very Funny Festival: Just For Laughs." [6]
  • The Adventures of Joe Dirt: an upcoming animated tv series of the 2001 film Joe Dirt

Sports

Baseball

Coverage of the formerly-Ted Turner-owned Atlanta Braves baseball team was perhaps TBS's signature program, due mainly to its high popularity in Georgia and neighboring states. Turner once famously tried to get Andy Messersmith to use his jersey, which was #17, to promote TBS Superstation in its early years. The back of the jersey read, "CHANNEL 17." Major League Baseball immediately stopped Turner from proceeding because team jerseys are not allowed to have advertising other than that of the jersey manufacturer.

At the 2006 MLB All-Star Game, it was announced that TBS would begin carrying a package that includes all major league teams. It premiered in 2007 in two phases, as follows:

  • TBS carries all Division Series games and one of the two League Championship Series, taking them from Fox and ESPN. In addition, TBS carries the announcements of the All-Star teams and any possible games to determine division winners and wild card teams. Those were also carried previously on ESPN.
  • The following year (2008), TBS began airing games every Sunday of the regular season for 26 weeks in all. No team may appear on the telecasts more than 13 times.

During the 2007 transitional year, TBS Superstation aired 70 regular-season Braves games. In 2008 and thereafter, only 45 games will be produced, and they will air on WPCH-TV in Atlanta.[7] Turner sells the package to other stations or cable channels for broadcast in the remainder of the Braves' designated market.

The final Braves game aired on TBS on September 30, 2007. The first divisional playoff game (a tie-breaker) aired one day after, on October 1, 2007 (when the TBS/WPCH split occurred).

On October 18, 2008, a technical problem in Atlanta prevented the channel from showing the first inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The channel aired The Steve Harvey Show instead.[8]

College football

College football games from the Big 12 and Pac-10 aired for several years in a sublicensing agreement with FSN. That agreement ended after the 2006 season.

National Basketball Association

National Basketball Association games were aired before being moved entirely to TNT; some Atlanta Hawks (also owned by Turner) games were shown on TBS Superstation until the TBS and TNT telecasts became subject to blackout within 35 miles of the home-team's arena (this restriction was dropped when TNT gained the right to be the exclusive broadcaster of any game it chose to carry).

Professional wrestling

Professional wrestling aired on TBS from 1971 to 2001 under several different companies including Jim Barnett-owned Georgia Championship Wrestling (1971–1984), Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (1984–1985), Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling and Jim Crockett, Jr.'s Jim Crockett Promotions (1985–1988), which eventually became Turner owned World Championship Wrestling (1988–2001). Through the early 1990s, the wrestling programs were among basic cable's highest-rated offerings, due to, like Braves baseball coverage, heavy viewership in the Southeastern U.S.

NASCAR

In addition, select NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series), Busch Series (now Nationwide Series), and Craftsman Truck Series races were aired on TBS up to the 2000 season. For several years in the late 1990s, the only Cup races aired on TBS were the two regular Cup series races from Lowe's Motor Speedway (TBS did not have rights to The Winston, which usually aired on TNN), and the July race at Pocono Raceway. TBS was also the home of the post-season exhibition races held at Suzuka Circuit in Japan from 1996–1998. Races were switched to TNT in 2001 as part of the then-new NASCAR TV deal, although the initial plans were for TBS Superstation to carry the races. Instead, Turner decided that NASCAR would better fit TNT's "We Know Drama" slogan.

References

External links


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