|Owned by||Oxford Broadcasting (1999–2009)
(a subsidiary of Milestone Group from 2001–2009)
|Formerly called||The Oxford Channel (1999–2001)|
|Analogue — Southampton (Fawley)||UHF channel 29
(vision carrier = 535.25 MHz)
|Analogue – Southampton (Millbrook)||UHF channel 55|
|Analogue — Oxford||UHF channel 47
(vision carrier = 679.25 MHz)
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 Television Service Licences and broadcast on UHF channel 47 in Oxford and UHF channel 29 in Southampton. It was owned by Oxford Broadcasting, who launched the channel in 1999; Oxford Broadcasting was then sold to Milestone Group in 2001, 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 licence 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, music and politics.
The Oxford Channel was launched on 6 June 1999. Within a few months, the station's programming had built a considerable following: over 25% of the potential audience of 500,000 watched each week.
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 learned the business at the Oxford Channel, and many of them are active in the industry today. Despite an investigation by BECTU that proved that much of the training was never carried out, training program became formalized in 2000 through the Local Television Training company. This scheme had a very low success rate of placing trainees within the television industry.
In 2001, with the station financially broke, mainly due to Harding's mismanagement and his partner's lack of experience, the board voted to sell the station and its operating company to Milestone Group. During this transition, most of the staff were laid off by Milestone, who also laid off the station's founders as well, though a small percentage of the staff remained.
Milestone 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. The station was re-branded as Six TV in anticipation of the launch of these services.
The channel broadcast a 24-hour service, seven days a week and featured numerous local programs including the highly popular motoring show V6 presented by Chris Ford, as well as the interactive music program OX900, and wildlife series Wild, which was nominated for an RTS Award. It 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.