The Learning Channel: Wikis

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The Learning Channel
TLC Logo.svg
Launched 1972 (as Appalachian Community Service Network)
1980 (As The Learning Channel)
Owned by Discovery Communications, LLC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Slogan Life Surprises.
Headquarters Silver Spring, MD, United States
Sister channel(s) Discovery Networks
Website TLC USA
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV Channel 280
Channel 1280 (VOD)
Dish Network Channel 183
C-Band AMC 10-Channel 604 (4DTV Digital)
Bell TV Channel 521
Shaw Direct Channel 560
Cable
Available on most cable systems Check local listings for details
IPTV
TELUS TV Channel 140

TLC (originally an acronym for The Learning Channel) is an American cable TV network which carries a variety of reality-based and some informational programming. Since 1991 TLC has been owned by Discovery Communications, the same company that operates the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and The Science Channel, as well as other learning-themed networks. The channel is one of the few cable networks also legally available in Canada under its original American interpretation.[citation needed]

TLC imports a significant amount of programming material from the United Kingdom (such as Junkyard Wars) mostly through its parent company's ties to the BBC. It also produces U.S. versions of some shows (like What Not to Wear, originally a BBC production) as well as original programming (like Robotica).

A High Definition simulcast of TLC was launched on 1 September 2007. It is currently available on Bell TV, Cox, Dish Network, DirecTV, Shaw Cable, Rogers Cable, Mediacom, insight Communications, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS and Comcast.

Contents

Programming

History

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The Learning Channel: “a place for learning minds”

The channel was founded in 1972 and was originally dedicated to be an informative/instructional network focused on providing real education through the medium of TV. The channel would eventually be known as Appalachian Community Service Network.[1] In November 1980 the channel became known as "The Learning Channel", where the channel's name which later became an acronym came from.[2] The channel mostly featured documentary content pertaining to nature, science, history, current events, medicine, technology, cooking, home improvement and other information-based topics (only the home improvement content now remains). These are often agreed to be more focused, more technical, and of a more academic nature than the content that was being broadcast at the time on its rival, The Discovery Channel. The station was geared towards an inquisitive and narrow audience during this time, and had modest ratings except for "Captain's Log with Captain Mark Gray". This was a boating safety series which aired on TLC from 1987 to 1990 and achieved between a 4.5 to 6 in the ratings. "Captain's Log" was also the highest compensated series in the history of TLC receiving over thirty (30) times more compensation than any other series on TLC at that time and was allowed to sign yearly (vs. quarterly) contracts.

By the early 1990s, The Learning Channel was a sister channel to the Financial News Network (FNN) which owned 51 percent of the channel with Infotechnology Inc. After FNN went into bankruptcy in 1991, the Discovery Channel's owners went into talks of buying The Learning Channel. An agreement was made with FNN and Infotech to buy their shares for §12.75 million. The non-profit Appalachian Community Service Network owned 35 percent of the network, and was also bought out.[3][4]

Discovery purportedly “jazzed things up”. The Learning Channel continued to be focused primarily on instructional and educational programming through much of the '90s, but began to air shows less focused on education and more themed towards popular consumption and mass-marketing; these would be later expanded.

TLC still aired educational programmes such as "Paleoworld" (a show about prehistoric creatures), though more and more of its programming began to be devoted to niche audiences for shows regarding subjects like home improvement (HomeTime and Home Savvy were two of the first), arts and crafts (similar to Martha Stewart), crime programmes such as The New Detectives and medical programming (particularly reality-based ones following real operations of real people and following them through the process), and other shows that appealed to daytime audiences, particularly housewives. This was to be indicative of a major change in programming content and target audience over the next few years.

"Life Unscripted": a new direction

Perhaps due to poor ratings from a narrow target audience, TLC began to explore new avenues starting in the mid '90s and increasingly towards and after the advent of the 21st century. Less and less material that most could be deemed to be truly educational in nature was featured on the channel. This was probably due to better ratings being achieved by shows such as these, as TLC brought in more viewers who were less interested in the other content being featured on the channel. "Ready Set Learn", the network's children's block, was slowly reduced through the years as the network deliberately redirected viewers towards the full-day line-up of children's programming on Discovery Kids until completely evaporating in late 2008, while Cable in the Classroom programming, meant for recording by teachers, had completely disappeared by the early 2000s.

In 1998 the channel officially began to distance itself from its original name "The Learning Channel", and instead began to advertise itself only as "TLC". It is possible the new audience may have held the common misconception that TLC stood for "Tender Loving Care", a common initialism. The marketing maneuver to use only “TLC” may have been intended to encourage this misconception, as the station moved more towards reality-based personal-story programming that would engage a wider, more mainstream audience.

During the period 1999–2001 there was a huge shift in programming, with most programming geared towards reality-drama and interior design shows. The huge success of shows like Trading Spaces, Junkyard Wars, A Wedding Story and A Baby Story exemplified this new shift in programming towards more mass-appeal shows.

This came at a time when Discovery itself was overhauling much of its own programming, introducing shows like American Chopper (which eventually moved to TLC). Much of the old, more educationally focused programming missed by original fans of the channel can still be found occasionally dispersed amongst other channels owned by Discovery Communications. Most programming today is geared towards reality-based drama or interests such as home design, emergency room dramas, other medical dramas, extreme weather, law enforcement, dating and human interest programs.

"Live and learn"

On March 27, 2006, the network launched a new look and promotional campaign, dropping the "Life Unscripted" tag and going with the new theme, "Live and learn", trying to turn around the network's reliance on decorating shows and reality TV programming. As part of the new campaign the channel's original name, The Learning Channel, has returned to occasional usage in promotions. The new theme also plays on life lessons.

"Life surprises"

In early March 2008, TLC launched a slightly refreshed look and promotional campaign, alongside a new slogan: "Life surprises". This new slogan came as TLC began to shift even more to personal stories, with a shift away from the once-dominating home improvement shows. Programs focused on family life became the core of the channel. Jon & Kate Plus 8, which by 2008 was the highest-rated program on TLC[5], and Little People, Big World were joined by 17 Kids and Counting (which in staying true to its promise, eventually became 18 Kids and Counting and then 19 Kids and Counting), and Table for 12 in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Also premiering on TLC in 2009 was Cake Boss, which focuses on the head baker at a bakery and his staff, mostly his family.

TLC has the distinction of being one of only three Discovery Networks channels to air infomericals during the overnight hours (parent network Discovery Channel and fitTV being the only others), TLC airs infomercials nightly from 3-6 a.m./ET. Animal Planet and the entire slate of Discovery Digital Networks (Investigation Discovery, Discovery Kids, Military Channel, Science Channel, Planet Green and Discovery Health Channel) with the exception of fitTV, do not air infomercials, instead those channels operate a 24-hour entertainment schedule.

International

A British version of the channel was launched in the mid-1990s and was subsequently renamed "Discovery Home and Leisure" and later Discovery Real Time as part of Discovery's catalog of themed channels.

TLC is also available in Canada under its American interpretation, even though many other United States speciality channels are forbidden entry into Canada as per Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regulation.[citation needed]

The Brazilian version, TLC HD, was launched in December 1, 2009, exclusively in high-definition, in the same style as the American channel (most of TLC's programming is available in standard-definition on Discovery Home & Health and People+Arts).

In the Latin American was launched TLC in 2010 (most of TLC's programming shows is available in standard on The Cosby Show, Bonanza, Star Trek, Eek! The Cat, Loopy De Loop, Tom and Jerry Kids, SWAT Kats, Teen Wolf (TV series) and The Real Ghostbusters.

A Norwegian version of the channel was launched in March 4, 2010, replacing the european version of Discovery Travel & Living in Norway.

See also

External links

References


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