The Freeview Years: 2003
Highlights from 2003
On the 9th February, the BBC replaced BBC Choice with BBC Three on channel 7, a channel created for 16-34 year olds.
BBC Three actually ended up launching a year after BBC Four launched, following regulatory hurdles relating to the public service content of the channel, with concerns that it would be too commercial and threaten ITV2 and E4. The channel was headed by Stuart Murphy, who previously ran BBC Choice, and before that UK Play.
Back in January 2003, two commercial channels went on air: the 15th January saw the launch of UK Bright Ideas, a new lifestyle channel from UKTV on channel 19 and ftn - the Flextech Television Network on channel 20. Flextech was at the time under the ownership of cable company Telewest (which later merged with ntl with the joint company becoming Virgin Media in subsequent years).
UK Bright Ideas (later UKTV Bright Ideas) aired from 06:00-18:00 and ftn from 18:00-06:00, sharing the same capacity on Multiplex D.
F tn was supposed to bring free to air highlights from other Flextech channels, such as Bravo, Trouble and Living. For many years, the output was disappointing, although it did show NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and eventually showed classic gameshows from Challenge. That only came after several years where the first two hours of broadcasting were taken up by teleshopping.
December 2003 saw price-drop.tv launch on Freeview channel 24, using capacity rented from Channel 4. The channel would the following year switch multiplexes, before losing its slot in 2009 - only to return again further down the EPG a few months later...
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