BSB Galaxy

By Ian Beaumont

Branded as "Galaxy: The Entertainment Channel from BSB", Galaxy really came across as a mix of two channels. In the mornings, it presented itself very much as a children's channel under the name "Galaxy CLUB", and a general entertainment channel in the evenings.

It only lasted for a total of 8 months, which in broadcasting is almost no time at all, but in that short time, we got a flavour of just how BSB wanted to present Galaxy.

BSB wanted to have news bulletins across all their channels, especially Galaxy. With no dedicated News channel of their own, BSB wanted to place themselves more with BBC1 and ITV, which had a regular news service, at regular times. So, Galaxy gained regular "BSB News" bulletins.

Unfortunately, the service was definitely short of funds. 2 cameras, very few graphics, no reports, and very little budget, meant the news bulletins heavily relied on the newsreaders.

But as far as BSB was concerned, regular news on their entertainment channel, gave them a definite advantage over Sky, and they were hoping that the presence of the news bulletins, might help viewers put Galaxy in the same league as BBC1 and ITV.

To also help viewers put Galaxy in the same league as BBC1 and ITV, BSB put kids programming, mainly US imports and a few classic UK kids shows, onto Galaxy under the Galaxy Club brand, with the obligatory Saturday morning kids show that had become essential since the success of Multi Coloured Swap Shop and Tiswas back in the late 1970's.

Finally, the programming mix was rounded out with a general mix of more US imports, classic UK television shows, and a smattering of original production where possible, such as Jupiter Moon. In an environment where there were no more than 30 channels tops on cable, this really should have been a real winner.

Unfortunately, there were too many mitigating factors, factors that practically killed off BSB almost before it was launched. BSB gained the DBS licence in 1986 for the first 3 out of the 5 channels that the UK was allocated, and would gain the remaining two channels in 1989.

But they wouldn't launch a single service until 1990. Over 3 years of spending money, without getting a single penny of revenue back. With a record like that, you are going to get into trouble, but fast!

Problems with the DMAC system, and manufacturers issues with the uniquely designed dishes, known to one and all as "squarials", also didn't help matters. Why BSB didn't quickly try to get at least one channel launched onto Cable before the official satellite launch of the BSB platform is another mystery.

They did eventually launch on cable in 1990 just before the official satellite launch, but they really should have pushed to try and launch at least Galaxy on cable in 1987 or 1988, whilst then pushing to get the satellite up and launch other channels over the course of the remaining two years or so, and they could have had revenue coming in all the time, albeit somewhat limited, but it would have been better than nothing.

Galaxy was merged into Sky One in early December 1990, so we never really got a chance to see a channel that had some real potential, ever make anything of that potential. What a real shame.

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Article ©2002 Ian Beaumont

Compilation ©2002 Transdiffusion Broadcasting System

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