|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009)|
|Owned by||Milestone Group|
|Formerly called||The Oxford Channel|
|Analogue — Southampton (Fawley)||UHF channel 29|
|Analogue – Southampton (Millbrook)||UHF channel 55|
|Analogue — Oxford||UHF channel 47|
Six TV was the sixth free to air terrestrial television channel in the UK, broadcast in Oxford, Southampton, Reading and Portsmouth. It was also the final analogue network to have been launched after BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 but only just. It operated under a set of Restricted Service Licences and broadcast on UHF channel 47 (vision carrier = 679.25 MHz) in Oxford and UHF channel 29 (vision carrier = 535.25 MHz) in Southampton. It was owned by the Milestone Group who closed all operations by April 2009.
Launch and expansion
Oxford Broadcasting was founded in 1998 by Debora and Thomas Harding, who both had worked at the award-winning Oxford-based video production company Undercurrents. They applied for a local television license and were successful. They raised the capital to launch the station, set up the broadcast studio in an old nuclear bunker on Woodstock Road, and hired over 60 staff. From the very beginning the channel focused on local stories, particularly sports, business, arts and politics.
The station was launched on 6 June 1999. Within a few months the programming had built a considerable following: over 25% of the potential audience of 500,000 watched each week, a higher audience rating than the local newspaper which had been around for over a hundred years.
Advertising for the station was produced by Tom, Dick and Debbie Productions, founded by Debora Harding, Thomas Harding and Richard Lewis.
The station became known as a training ground for new broadcast journalists. Over one hundred young people learnt the business at the Oxford Channel, and many of them are active in the industry today. The training programme became formalised in 2000 through the Local Television Training company that attracted government money to train unemployed young people from Oxford and taught them the skills of broadcast television. This scheme had a high success rate of placing trainees within the television industry.
In 2001, the board of Oxford Channel voted to raise additional funds for the station. This led to the sale of the business to Aroma, a subsidiary of the Milestone Group. During this transition, most of the staff were laid off by the new owners, including the founders Debora and Thomas Harding, though some of the staff remained in what became known as Six TV.
The Milestone Group company gained further licences to broadcast in Southampton, Fawley, Reading and Portsmouth in 2003 after the re-advertising of the four-year contracts and successfully renewed its contract to broadcast to Oxford. It re-branded as Six TV for the launch of these services.
The channel broadcast a 24-hour service, seven days a week and featured numerous local programmes including the highly popular motoring show V6 presented by Chris Ford, as well as the interactive music programme OX900, and wildlife series Wild, which was nominated for an RTS Award. the channel also introduced, a children's section, local sports and local news under the guidance of managing director, Nigel Taylor
Six TV's licences to broadcast in Reading and Portsmouth were activated. Despite the channel not launching in these areas, the words "Reading" and "Portsmouth" could be seen under the heading on the company's website.
The channel's contract to broadcast was set to expire on 30 June 2007; however Ofcom confirmed that all RSL licences would be extended until the 2012 digital switchover but gave no undertaking that a digital licence would be granted. Milestone concluded that the lack of digital licences rendered the stations non-viable and all channels had ceased broadcasting by April 2009, including the original Oxford channel.