|Launched||July 1, 1991 (as Court TV)
January 1, 2008 (as TruTV)
|Owned by||Turner Broadcasting System
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTVs)
|Slogan||Way More Fun|
|Formerly called||Court TV (1991–2007)|
|DirecTV (U.S.)||246 (HD/SD)
|Available on many cable systems||Check local listings|
truTV (formerly Court TV) is an American cable and satellite television channel that is owned by the Turner Broadcasting System division of Time Warner. TruTV's programming originally consisted of reality programming, legal-based news shows, and "caught on video" reality programs (which TruTV referred to as "actuality" television). Since October 27, 2014, truTV has been reformatted to a more conventional reality network with a strong emphasis on comedy.
As of August 2013, approximately 91,197,000 American households (79.86% of households with television) receive TruTV.
As Court TV
Court TV launched on July 2, 1991, originally only available to three million subscribers. Its original anchors were Fred Graham, who was still at the network twenty years later, and Cynthia McFadden, who later joined ABC News. The network was born out of two competing projects to launch cable channels with live courtroom proceedings, the American Trial Network from Time Warner and American Lawyer Media, and In Court from Cablevision and NBC. Both projects were present at the National Cable Television Association in June 1990. Rather than trying to establish two competing networks, the projects were combined in December 14, 1990. Liberty Media would join the venture in 1991.
The channel originally featured continuous live trial coverage, with analysis by anchors. It was led by law writer Steven Brill, who left the network in 1997. The network came into its own during the Menendez brothers first trial and later during the O.J. Simpson murder trial. In 1998, NBC sold its share of the network to Time Warner. That same year, it began running several original and acquired programs in prime time, such as Homicide: Life on the Street and Forensic Files.
In 2004, recognizing the growth of its primetime programming, Court TV split itself into two brands. Daytime trial coverage was branded as Court TV News, while primetime and weekend programming took on an increasingly legal reality and drama-based format under the slogan "Seriously Entertaining". Time Warner bought full control of Court TV in 2006 and began running it as part of the company's Turner Broadcasting System division. The buyout of Court TV marked Time Warner's first television network acquisition – rather than a sale – since the acquisition of Turner Broadcasting System in 1996.
Relaunch as TruTV
On January 1, 2008, Court TV was relaunched as TruTV, changing the focus of the network to feature reality-based programming. As part of the rebranding, daytime trial coverage, which previously aired from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, was cut back to 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET and branded as "In Session." From 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. ET on weekdays (which later expanded with the scaling back of the "In Session" block to two hours in 2012 and cut entirely in late 2013) and throughout the weekend, it ran original investigation-based programming and several new reality shows not related to law enforcement.
The investigation-based programming has slowly been reduced over time, being relegated to TruTV's late night schedule and transferred to sister network HLN and broadcast syndication, with the vast majority of the Court TV archive moving to the broadcast subchannel Justice Network in January 2015. Over the years, truTV's programming has drifted with the addition of competition/game shows, sporting events, and hidden camera prank shows.
The Second Era: The New truTV
Chris Linn, president and head of programming for truTV as of 2013, announced on July 10, 2014 that truTV would be given a branding and programming makeover on October 27, 2014. New programming to be introduced includes Branson Famous (a "reality musical"), The Shake Up, Hack My Life, and Kart Life. Linn explains to The Hollywood Reporter about the major departure of programming by saying, "One of the biggest things that I wanted to address when I came to the channel was the derivative nature of the content. Impractical Jokers was the one outlier on the network. That was sort of the canary in the coal mine. We want to not just be in the docuseries business. Let's lead into the comedic instead of the conflict."
The network's new focus on humor, while still retaining a reality format, is to attract any "funseekers". The logo was tweaked only slightly by elevating the circle/punctuation mark and italicizing the "TV". In addition to being marketed as "The New truTV", the network rolls out a new tagline: "Way More Fun". All this is intended to shed any of the lingering severity associated with the network's previous Court TV roots. "People who are not familiar think it should be a documentary channel," says Linn, who admits that building brand awareness in those 93 million homes is a big challenge. "This is about celebrating all of the great things happening in TV right now."
In anticipation of the relaunch, truTV's new logo appeared on the network's YouTube channel as well as its social media outlets. The full roll-out has occurred on the network itself and its website on October 27, 2014.
The 1080i high definition simulcast feed of TruTV is available on all major cable and satellite providers. In March 2011, the channel saw carriage of its HD feed increase, due to its coverage of the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament (and subsequent tournaments), which was its first ever live sports telecasts.
As CourtTV, the channel's programming traditionally consisted of reality legal programming and legal dramas, such as legal-based news shows, legal-based talk shows, live homicide trial coverage, court shows, police force shows, and other criminal justice programming. TruTV's reality programming consists largely of shows produced specifically for the channel including Lizard Lick Towing, TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest..., Full Throttle Saloon, Southern Fried Stings, Guinness World Records Gone Wild, Impractical Jokers, Storage Hunters, Most Shocking and its spin-offs Top 20 Countdown: Most Shocking and Most Daring, Upload with Shaquille O'Neal, and Hardcore Pawn.
The channel also carried a week-daily news block, In Session (the successor to Court TV News), which provided live coverage of trials, legal news and details of highly publicized crimes Monday through Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. ET (except during national holidays, with reruns of the channel's reality programming airing in place of the block on such days). Its coverage included analysis from anchors and guests to help viewers understand legal proceedings. In Session also ran a blog, Sidebar, where the In Session team posted updated legal news and analysis. In Session moved to a new studio in Atlanta at the CNN Center on November 16, 2009. Production of the block was eventually taken over by TruTV's sister network, HLN. In Session anchors also appear on CNN to provide legal analysis about current crime stories and trials. In Session concluded its run on September 26, 2013.
On February 8, 2010, TruTV premiered NFL Full Contact, a show that gave a behind the scenes look at the television production for major football events such as the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, the Pro Bowl, and the season opener; the show was not renewed for a second season.
On March 15, 2011, TruTV began airing live sports programming for the first time with its telecast of the first four rounds of the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The agreement is part of a contract between Turner Sports and CBS Sports resulting in shared coverage of the NCAA Tournament through 2024. TruTV featured games up until the Elite 8 round. In addition to games, TruTV broadcasts the postgame studio show Inside March Madness, which airs following that day's game slate. TruTV's college basketball coverage was not limited to the NCAA Tournament; the network also aired the Reese's College All-Star Game on April 1, 2011. TruTV currently has a show from NFL Films in development tentatively titled Semi-Pro that will focus on a group of semi-professional football players.
In addition to TruTV.com, the network also operates The Smoking Gun, a website that focuses on legal items often pertaining to famous people, such as mug shots and other public documents. It also owns the website Crime Library, which provides detailed information about infamous crimes and how they were solved. The channel also operated "Dumb as a Blog", a blog dedicated to "dumb" human misfortune. "Dumb as a Blog" has ceased operations since February 2014.
Online coverage of current trials (including In Session) is now hosted at sister website CNN.com's "Crime" section. TruTV also maintains truTV video, a streaming video player, where users can watch clips of user-submitted home videos and excerpts from TruTV programs. The network is also part of Turner's TV Everywhere initiative, with the "Watch truTV" website and mobile apps with East and West feeds of the channel available to pay-TV subscribers using their provider sign-in credentials, if available.
On February 3, 2003, Court TV Plus debuted on Sirius Satellite Radio, featuring audio from Court TV programs. Originally on Channel 134, it was moved in September 2005 and aired on Channel 110 until the channel ceased operations on January 1, 2008.
Court TV Canada, a Canadian version of the channel under its previous format, owned by CHUM Limited (and later acquired by CTVglobemedia which then sold its assets to Bell Canada under the Bell Media subsidiary), launched on September 7, 2001. Unlike its U.S. counterpart, it did not rebrand under the TruTV name and continued to operate as Court TV until August 30, 2010 when, as part of a wider licensing agreement with Discovery Communications and CTV, Court TV was officially replaced by Investigation Discovery.
The U.S. version of CourtTV had earlier been approved by the CRTC as an eligible foreign channel in 1997, and indeed, had been carried by several Canadian service providers prior to the launch of the domestic service. However, Court TV/TruTV was never withdrawn as an eligible foreign service for carriage on cable and satellite, meaning that, particularly with the end of the licensing agreement with CTV, there are few hurdles preventing TruTV from re-emerging at some point in the future on Canadian service providers. Meanwhile, many of their original shows have been airing on Action and OLN.
The channel was launched on April 1, 2009 in Latin America replacing Retro, also owned by Turner Broadcasting System. The announcement was made on March 25, 2009 by Turner Broadcasting System Latin America. The channel has the same programming, idents and bumpers from the U.S. version.
The channel was launched on April 1, 2010 in several markets in Asia including Indonesia, Mongolia, the Philippines and Singapore on StarHub TV channel 446. The channel is owned and operated by owned by Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific and has similar programming, idents and bumpers to the U.S. version, but many are also created by the Turner regional office in Hong Kong. It also has its own dedicated website for the region.
TruTV launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland as a free-to-air channel on August 4, 2014. It is available on SKY, Freeview & Freesat.
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