Gallery: Pan European 

14 Jun 2001 0 tbs.pm/2222 Article text released under the Creative Commons Attribution license Media copyrighted Report an error in this article

Sky Channel

Pan-European predecessor to the UK’s British Sky Broadcasting.

Possibly the most venerable satellite channel in Europe, the predecessor to Sky One was dire, cheap and practically unfunded – but blazed a trail in establishing satellite television and multiple channel viewing in the UK.

Sky Channel still ident

Sport on Sky Channel ident

Later sport on Sky Channel ident

Compare and contrast the above pan-European style with Sky presentation from Christmas 1992 shortly after the change to the UK-only ‘MultiChannels’ subscription package below. The end of the pan-continent failure, plus the merger with the only real UK rival, BSB, produces a suite of channels much more confident than the old service.

Promo for the full channel 'Sky Sports'

Subscribe to Sky Sports

Picket Fences tonight on Sky One

Sky 1 ident

Tonight on Sky One...

…and again with modern-day Sky One presentation from 2001. No longer bright, booming and brash, the channel may subsist on a diet of populist American programming still, but it now out performs Channel 5 in digital homes and is in direct competition with E4, the entertainment channel from the UK’s domestic Channel Four terrestrial service.

Sky One ident

Sky One ident

Sky One menu

Superchannel

Music Box says goodbye... and hello to Super Channel

It’s 30 January 1987, and the Eutelsat transponder previously used by Music Box gives way to a new experiment (and, co-incidentally, the UK’s Yorkshire Television finishes its 24-hour TV experiment which used Music Box as a sustaining feed).

Super Channel ident 1987

Super Channel is launched with a promise of pan-European English-language entertainment. Unopposed as a general entertainment channel in Europe (other than by the small Sky Channel), the new service promises to be ITV for Europe – quality entertainment, news, sports and everything else ex-pat UK viewers remember from ITV in the UK. News and sport from ITN, programmes from the archives of YTV and the BBC, the future of television starts here.

With an analogue clock to prove the channel’s professional intentions, plus a ‘striped’ schedule including early 80s and mid-70s BBC comedy and year-old Spitting Image episodes from Central, Super Channel is on its way. The main coup for the new Super Channel, and the basis of its claim to being a major league broadcaster, was to get ITN as its news service provider.

The sudden fade from a generic “ITN News” to a specific “ITN Super Channel News” caption reveals the programme’s true origins – a pre-made package aimed at any channel and at European airlines to show mid-flight.

Nevertheless, on day one a specially commissioned programme, explaining the new ITN World News programme to viewers, goes out at 2220 CET, with many mentions of Super Channel and the new satellite distribution platform for ITN.

When Super Channel finally died under the onslaught of Sky’s MultiChannels platform, the ITN World News lived on both for airline use and as the second part of the ITN Morning News at 5am (pre Gulf War) or 0530 (post Gulf War) on ITV.

The end is in sight. These idents come from just before the channel was bought by NBC.

WorldNet

Pan-European US propaganda and information station.

Very brash presentation style in evidence from this CIA-sponsored channel. Looking like CNN and benefiting from the money lavished upon it at a time when radio station Voice of America was struggling, the output mostly consisted of opinion pieces masquerading as news and the occasional US travelogue.

G@me Network

Pan-European computer games channel.

Making the leap from free-to-air analogue on HotBird to free-to-air digital via Eurobird and therefore visible to the Sky digibox is this interesting low-budget channel. Whilst the minority output – endless shots of PlayStation games in progress – may not exactly appeal to all, the presentation is surprisingly similar to the pan-continent approach of the old MTV Europe of the late 80s.

Differing styles, a lack of announcers (language barriers), the cards giving times of programmes in various cities and zones – all remarkably familiar. The extended runs of silent menus and idents between programmes (for cable providers to fit local advertising into) is also a reminder of why these pan-European channels never really took off.

Turner Classic Movies

pan-European film channel.

Drawing on the huge black and white and early colour archives of Time Warner, mainly from MGM, this contemporary channel uses a fascinating “1930s-style” presentation, which is very difficult to describe.

The channel itself is somewhat spoilt by the ugly DOG in the top right of the screen at all times, and also has some of the “MTV Europe” side effects noted above – most noticeably the large spaces left for local advertising before films.

You get the impression this channel, like all other Time channels, is not really meant for satellite reception: its heart lies in the cable camp.

CNN International

pan-World news channel.

Coming in different flavours for each region and with financial and sports based variants in its home country, this Atlanta-based channel is the grandfather of all other satellite channels.

The story of Ted Turner’s ‘foolish idea’ becoming a world news source (partially due the Gulf War) is well-known. The international presentation has similarities, again, to the “MTV Europe” syndrome above, but is firmly rooted in English and is a lot more direct and a lot less ‘euro-subtle’ than most pan-nation channels tend to be.

Possibly the most ‘American’ of all the American-owned satellite stations, and all the better for it!

FTV (Fashion Television)

Another pan-European single-subject channel, this time devoted to various dangerously thin models parading up and down the catwalks of Europe in the altogether.

Possibly the strangest single-subject channel, presentation is confined to short, silent promos for forthcoming shows or the channel itself. Bizarrely, the entire channel’s text is in English – but maybe that’s just what’s fashionable.

M7’s Liberty TV

To be honest, we’re not sure whether this channel was pan-European – we suspect it was aimed directly at the UK and Ireland. However, we can’t resist including it, for this channel stepped straight out a the parallel world 20 minutes into the future…

The programming was a strange mixture of Australian versions of cheap BBC daytime shows; Televangelists who are praying for us as we speak and would like a small donation; and 30 minute infomercials for Tupperware-style containers and miracle cleaning fluids.

All of these were presented under the banner of the output being entirely suitable all of the time for the whole family to watch. I don’t imagine anyone does, and being off-air for most of peak-time can’t help either. Truly the strangest ‘general entertainment’ channel we can imagine.

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