Ha!, owned by Viacom, was one of the first American all-comedy channels available to basic cable subscribers. Launched on April 1, 1990 at 7 p.m. ET, it competed with another startup comedy-oriented cable channel, HBO-owned The Comedy Channel (now Comedy Central).
Unlike The Comedy Channel, which focused on stand-up comedy specials and clips of classic comedy feature films, Ha!'s programming centered largely on acquired off-network situation comedies from the 1950s to the 1970s. Some cable providers, particularly those owned by Viacom or Cablevision, carried the channel under a channel-share agreement in which it would be aired on the same channel space as fellow Viacom-owned cable network VH1; Ha! would air for half of the day, with the channel turning over to VH1 afterward.
Ha! and Comedy Channel merge to create Comedy Central
In 1990, Ha! and Comedy Channel agreed to merge to create CTV: The Comedy Network, which began airing on April 1, 1991; prior to the merger, both channels each had fewer than 10 million subscribers. Because of confusion and possible legal issues with the Canadian-based CTV network, the name of the network was subsequently changed to Comedy Central.