ITV Digital Channels Ltd
|Type||Subsidiary of ITV plc|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Parent||Granada plc/BSkyB (1996–2004)
ITV plc (2004–)
ITV Digital Channels Limited (ITVDCL) (formerly known as Granada Sky Broadcasting or GSkyB) is a wholly owned subsidiary of British television broadcaster ITV plc. Granada Sky Broadcasting was set up in 1996 and operated until 2004 as a joint venture between Granada plc and BSkyB to launch a range of television channels broadcasting the Granada archive on the Sky satellite television platform as well as other digital platforms such as ITV Digital (closed in 2002 due to administration), NTL and Telewest (both merged to form Virgin Media). ITV Digital Channels Ltd now solely under control of ITV plc is today a profitable business which runs ITV plc's digital channels.
On 2 February 2004, Granada merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc. On 1 November 2004, ITV plc agreed to purchase BSkyB's stake in GSB for £10 million. The deal included the slot that Plus was broadcast on, which ITV used on the Sky platform to broadcast its new ITV3 channel, which replaced Plus on the same day. The negotiations that led to ITV plc taking sole control of GSB, closing Granada Plus and launching ITV3 on digital satellite were apparently completed just hours before the new channel started broadcasting. A week later, on the 8 November 2004, Granada Sky Broadcasting was renamed "ITV Digital Channels Limited". The closure of Granada Plus left Men & Motors the sole survivor of the original four channels. As part of ITV's buy-out of Sky's shareholding Sky will receive 49.5% of any proceeds (net of liabilities) from any future sale of Men & Motors.
On 2 May 2005, Men & Motors launched as free-to-air channel on the Freeview digital terrestrial television service. It was rumoured that ITV plc would replace Men & Motors with ITV4, another men's channel, when it launched on 1 November 2005. However, after a better than expected performance from Men & Motors as a free-to-air channel, both channels continued and ITV plc cut the hours of the ITV News Channel to make way for ITV4 and CITV instead.
Although ITV4 started broadcasting from the Astra satellite on 1 November, it was not placed on the Sky EPG until 7 November. Because of this, some ITV4 sporting programming was simulcast on Men & Motors in a ITV4 on m&m strand.
Despite the previous U-turn not to close Men & Motors, fresh rumours over the channel's future began to circulate in early 2006 due to a poorer than expected performance from the fledgling ITV4 service. In April 2006 Men & Motors left Freeview to make way for the launch of ITV Play. It closed on Virgin Media on 25 March 2010, and finally closed on Sky and Freesat on 1 April, to make way for a permanent EPG position for ITV HD.
Currently, ITV2 and ITV3 are the highest rating digital TV channels in the United Kingdom. ITV4 is benefiting from extra investment which saw it obtain the rights to the Indian Premier League Cricket is also improving its share of the viewing. The CITV channel is the number one commercial kids TV channel having a higher share of viewers compared to Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
ITV Digital Channels Ltd operates ITV plc's digital channels:
- ITV2 (and ITV2 +1) – a general entertainment channel
- ITV3 (and ITV3 +1) – a drama and movie channel
- ITV4 (and ITV4 +1) – a channel aimed at men
- ITV Encore (and ITV Encore +1) – a drama channel
- CITV – a channel aimed at children under 9
- The Store – a shopping channel
- ITV HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV plc's ITV channel
- ITV2 HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV2
- ITV3 HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV3
- ITV4 HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV4
- ITV Encore HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV Encore
- Plus – launched as Granada Plus on 1 October 1996, showing entertainment programmes from the archives of Granada and its subsidiaries. Replaced by ITV3 on 1 November 2004.
- Granada Breeze – launched as Granada Good Life on 1 October 1996, a lifestyle channel split into four segments: Granada Food & Wine, Granada Health & Beauty, Granada TV High Street and Granada Home & Garden. Relaunched as Granada Breeze in May 1998 in order to improve ratings but closed on 30 April 2002.
- Men & Motors – launched as Granada Men & Motors on 1 October 1996, a channel aimed at men. Last of the original Granada Sky Broadcasting channels to close on 1 April 2010. Replaced by ITV HD.
- Granada Talk TV – a debate channel launched on 1 October 1996. Closed on 31 August 1997.
- ITV plc
- EMC Bitstream: ITV3: reaching for the Sky — discusses the negotiations that led to the sale of Sky's stake and closure of Granada Plus
- Guide to channels on Astra satellites