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A timeshift channel is a television channel carrying a time-delayed rebroadcast of its "parent" channel's programming. This channel runs alongside their parent: the term "timeshift" does not refer to a network broadcasting at a later time to reflect a local time zone, unless the parent is also available. Often the timeshift channel's branding and advertising will be the same as that of the parent, with the channel number and respective timing being the only distinction between the two, but some, such as Channel 4 +1 in the United Kingdom, will overlay a different digital on-screen graphic to distinguish the two channels. A few channels, like Film4 +1 in the United Kingdom, do not carry a digital on-screen graphic on its regular channel or its timeshift channel.
In the United Kingdom, most timeshift channels have a time delay of one hour, and are thus described as a +1 channel – for instance, ITV2 has a timeshift channel known as ITV2 +1. More recently, some channels have launched timeshift channels with a delay of two hours – +2 channels. The most notable of these was FX, though the timeshifted channel was presented as simply FX +, rather than FX +2. The channel later changed to a one hour timeshift and was later renamed Fox +1. UKTV Style had a +2 hour channel, but was called UKTV Style 2, it closed in late 2008. Between June 25, 2007 and April 21, 2008, Discovery Channel had a 90-minute timeshift channel dubbed Discovery Channel +1.5. Most timeshift channels are available only via pay television, although E4 +1, ITV1 +1, ITV2 +1, Channel 4 +1, Dave Ja Vu and Channel 5 +1 are available via the UK digital terrestrial service, Freeview. More4 +1 was also available until the launch of Film4. Cartoon Network +1 shut down on March 6, 2006 in the UK. There are currently 50 timeshift channels in the UK on Sky and 31 on Virgin Media.
Technically, they are actually -1 i.e. minus one channels using standard descriptions for time, as they are one hour behind and not in front of, as incorrectly named.
Ireland has access to many of the UK timeshift channels through satellite and cable services. Some are also available via spillover transmissions from Northern Ireland such as UTV's timeshift service UTV +1. RTֹ provides a part-time timeshift service for RTÉ One, RTÉ One +1 starts each night at 7 p.m. after the close of RTÉjr. TV3 (the commercial broadcaster) and TG4 (the Irish language broadcaster) are considering timeshift channels. TV3 +1 and TG4 +1 should appear after the country's analogue switchover (ASO).
In Australia, timeshift channels typically carry a time delay of two hours, making the timeshift channels run on local time in Western Australia when daylight saving time is not in effect. These channels may accordingly be described as +2, such as on Arena, although the timeshift for W. is branded as W2. More than 20 timeshift channels exist, most of them for entertainment channels.
In New Zealand, Sky Movies 2 was launched as a two-hour delayed timeshift channel of Sky Movies 1 in July 2007. MediaWorks launched an hour-delayed timeshift channel of TV3 with national only advertising on March 30, 2009. Then two years later, TVNZ relaunched TVNZ7 as an hour-delayed timeshift channel of TV One with Auckland regional advertising. In late August 2013, U was also relaunched as a timeshifted version of TV2.
In the United States, timeshift channels typically carry a time delay of three hours (in line with the time difference between the east and west coasts of the U.S.), and are generally called "West" feeds (the main channels are generally called "East" feeds). For conventional broadcast networks, a timeshift channel is a network affiliate from a market in another time zone (such as WCBS-TV in New York City as an Eastern Time Zone feed and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles as a Pacific Time Zone feed for CBS); for cable-only outlets, a timeshift channel is simply the original programming feed retransmitted at a later time, as is the case with timeshift channels in other countries.
The major U.S. terrestrial television networks broadcast without delay in the Eastern and Central time zones (UTC-5 and UTC-6, respectively), but delay programs by one and three hours respectively for the Mountain (UTC-7) and Pacific (UTC-8) time zones. The start of U.S. evening prime time programs are typically announced in the form of "8, 7 Central" (often written as "8/7c") or "8 Eastern, 5 Pacific" (often written as "8 ET/5 PT").
Many cable television channels do not timeshift, though there are several exceptions. The most notable network to carry a separate full-time-shifted feed is Nickelodeon, which is targeted to children and as such, schedules its programming around a typical school day and sleep schedule. Two separate Nickelodeon feeds exist, with the second being delayed three hours from the first (most digital cable and satellite providers carry both, with that coast's primary feed labeled "Nick" and the secondary coastal feed as "Nick 2"; controversially in 2012 sister network Nick Jr. launched a block of mother-focused shows with adult content known as NickMom, which only carries an east feed, meaning adult content airing at 10 p.m. Eastern was seen as early as 4 p.m. in Hawaii during the winter, forcing the network to later shuffle the schedule to null those issues). As an alternative, many cable channels, including cable news outlets such as Fox News Channel, CNN and HLN timeshift most of their prime time programs on their main channel in late night time slots, so that they will air during prime time in both the Eastern and Pacific time zones, though it is subject to pre-emption because of later breaking news.
Premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz commonly air three-hour delayed feeds of the main channel and their multiplex channels, though typically digital cable providers only simultaneously carry the East and West coast feeds of the main channel while the multiplex channels are a singular feed (the "East" feed for the Central and Eastern time zones, and the "West" feed for the Pacific and Mountain zones); this allows subscribers to watch a movie, series or special three hours behind or ahead of its original airing in their area (in the case of The Movie Channel, many cable systems only carry the respective coastal feed of the main channel and its multiplex channel The Movie Channel Xtra, rather than airing the East and West feeds of the primary channel or both channels).
Sporting events are often broadcast live in all time zones, resulting in announcements such as "4 Eastern, 1 Pacific" (generally shown as "4 ET/1 PT"). In the event of a sporting event leading into prime time on the East Coast, the following programs are often said to be "coming up next, except on the West Coast," as additional programming is shifted around to fill the time between the end of the event and the start of prime time on the West Coast. Many times, this is the programming which was preempted by the effectively earlier time slot in the western zones.
Award shows telecast live depend on the organization holding the event and broadcaster, but in the last few years with the rise of social media like Twitter and Facebook around discussion of television programming, many of them now choose to air their ceremonies live rather than on a three-hour tape delay for the West Coast, especially those held in the Los Angeles area, which include the Golden Globe Awards, Academy Awards and Tony Awards; this is to prevent spoilers for western viewers who traditionally waited for their timezone's airing unaware in the past of winners and moments outside of little-listened to radio reports and wire stories during the ceremonies that are now discussed openly by live viewers west of the Rockies. However, music's Grammy Awards continues to delay for the West Coast broadcast to primetime, while the Primetime Emmy Awards, which are on a four-year rotation among the major broadcast networks, a West Coast tape delay is the choice of the network airing and producing the ceremony that year.
Lower-tier ceremonies such as the People's Choice Awards, the Billboard Music Awards and Teen Choice Awards however usually are tape-delayed by the networks as their airtime is often purchased as a brokered programming arrangement, which also allows standards and practices to watch the ceremony in advance and determine cuts for profanity or content to insert a bleep censor or cut-away, and the producers cuts for time and superfluous items such as longer walks than expected by an award winner to the stage or a rare botched performance with the replacement of dress rehearsal footage.
In Canada, English-language programming is transmitted without delay in the Atlantic time zone (UTC-4) and delayed in most of the rest of the country. This results in the effective existence of, for example, +1, +2, +3, and +4 channels of the broadcast networks for satellite television viewers in the Atlantic time zone and -4, -3, -2, and -1 channels for Pacific viewers. French programming is transmitted without delay in Montreal's Eastern zone and delayed only in Western Canada. In Newfoundland, which has its own time zone a half-hour ahead of Atlantic time, programming airs at the same time as in the Atlantic, with special time announcements (thus, for instance, The National on CBC will be said to air at 10:00, 10:30 in Newfoundland).
While this is generally the case for Canadian content, broadcasts that are simulcast in the United States are more likely to follow the U.S. model of broadcasting, so that stations can take advantage of simultaneous substitution, which allows broadcast stations to override U.S. broadcast stations' signals (including commercials) with their own.
In Latin America, Spanish-language cable programming is transmitted without delay in Argentina and Uruguay, and delayed in most countries. Portuguese-language programming is transmitted without delay in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo's official time and not delayed in the rest of the nation, except for the major terrestrial broadcast networks, three HBO channels and two Cinemax channels.
XEW-TV (the flagship of Canal de las Estrellas) in Mexico has two timeshift feeds: Canal de las Estrellas -1 and Canal de las Estrellas -2, delayed one and two hours respectively from the main Mexico City feed. These timeshift feeds are broadcast over-the-air in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, and are available on cable in various parts of the country.