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Totally The Right Stuff, TCC!

Totally The Right Stuff, TCC!

On 3rd April 1998, one of the oldest satellite/cable television channels in Europe and Europe's first channel for children officially ceased broadcasting - TCC (The Children's Channel). Towards the end of TCC's official life, the channel's programming manager - Joan Lofts (later became director of programmes and acquisitions at Disney Channel UK[1] and later Director of Broadcasting for ITV2) started to focus more on the teenage demographic by acquiring broadcasting rights to live-action drama series,[2] which was an age group demographic the other kids channels weren't sufficiently covering.

In 1997, Flextech decided to launch a branded programming block called "Trouble" as home for its teenage-focused shows of which it timeshared with male adult-focused channel - Bravo between the hours of 12pm until 8pm[3][4][5] (Bravo lost its afternoon and evening hours but Bravo's slot has been expanded all the way to 6am). Following TCC's official closure in the UK in 1998, Trouble expanded its broadcasting hours from 7am to 8pm, much more than its previous eight-hour window. Up until its closure, TCC continued to timeshare with Challenge TV (which itself launched on the same day as Trouble, 3rd February 1997).

In November 1986, TCC launched in the Benelux region (an adless feed with advertisements replaced with teletext pages, mostly the daily schedule and The Children's Channel theme song[6]), followed by a launch in Scandinavia launch in January 1988.[7] On 1st January 1996, TCC became localised in the Scandinavia/Nordic region with the launch of "TCC Nordic" with four language audio tracks, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish (although later Satellite records suggests that Finnish was dropped).[8][9][10] TCC Nordic wasn't fully localised though, just all the promos and programme annoucements on the channel were dubbed, some programming was dubbed but it was very sparse, according to TCC fan Daniel Hofverberg[11] (forum member and administrator of Swedish dubbing forum "Dubbningshemsidans forum"), there was about one or two hours of dubbing in the middle of day, mostly for younger children.

During the time TCC Nordic was on the air, Daniel had occasional contact with TCC Nordic's channel manager Boel Ferguson (née Söderling) (who later became managing director at Fox Kids/Jetix Nordic and then Jetix UK & Nordic), regarding some technical issues with the channel. Also, programming was available with subtitles, this wasn't burned-in/recorded over footage but could be turned on optionally through Teletext or D2-MAC's (a predecessor to DVB - Digital Video Broadcasting, the digital broadcasting standard used in Europe today) teletext options.

When Flextech ended TCC's operations in April 1998, they still had to fulfill a carriage agreement with a cable television provider which lasts until October 2000 (Daniel Hofverberg mentioned that the provider was based in Denmark, after doing some investigation work and finding a press release from 1999 mentioning TCC Nordic, it turned out it was Danish cable television provider - Tele Danmark,[12] also TCC Nordic continued carriage on pan-Nordic satellite operator Canal Digital[13][14]), so an automated version of TCC Nordic was created just to fulfill this obligation, the channel was still accessible in Scandinavia via satellite. UK cable provider Cable & Wireless (C&W's cable TV operations were later sold to NTL and is now part of Virgin Media) also made an agreement with Flextech to continue carriage of TCC (Nordic) through a special contract.[15] In Sweden, this version of TCC lasted until 25th May, which was when it was removed from Telia Cable, the channel continued to share a transponder with Discovery on Telenor's Thor 1 satellite (used to be the same satellite formerly known as Marcopolo that was used by the ill-fated Sky rival - BSB - British Satellite Broadcasting).[16][17]

Meanwhile in the UK, TCC's former space was taken up by another Flextech creation - TV Travel Shop, which timeshared with Challenge TV, however on Cable and Wireless, TCC continued to be shown during the day which was the transmission from Thor 1 and then cut to the TV Travel Shop/Challenge TV timeshare Astra transponder, just seconds before TV Travel Shop ended for the day and Challenge TV was about to start for the evening.[18] Pre-school programming aka "Tiny TCC" moved to Flextech's lifestyle channel - Living and became "Tiny Living".

Cable and Wireless continued to carry TCC Nordic until Autumn 1998 (officially nationwide until 5th October, removed in some areas before then)[19] this was when C&W announced that TCC will finally be replaced with Fox Kids.[20]

The version of TCC that was setup to fulfill the contract, was needless to say weird and zombified, it was like staring at a ghost from the past, it was broadcast from an unmanned studio using tapes from the UK version of TCC, all Scandinavian dubbings and subtitles were removed and ad breaks were non-existent, it was reported that it had technical issues and was off-schedule.

When carriage contract was fulfilled, TCC finally ceased broadcasting in Scandinavia on 30th September 2000, over two years since it officially closed in the United Kingdom.[21] [22]

TCC's Spiritual Successors[]

The complete closure of TCC ends a whole chapter in European broadcasting, Flextech was taken over by Telewest (later Virgin Media), and then was sold off to Sky, it could be argued that Sky's Sky Kids VOD service could be the spiritual successor to TCC. Other candidates of spiritual successors is Fox Kids (later Jetix), Fox originally wanted to form a joint-venture with TCC but it was never agreed, and some programming, notably Dennis the Menace (UK Beano version and was made in-association with Flextech) aired on Fox Kids UK not long after TCC's closure and also aforementioned TCC Nordic management connection. CITV is also a candidate of a spiritual successor, as former ITV franchise holders Thames Television and Central Independent Television were shareholders in the Starstream consortium, the original company that owned TCC until Flextech bought it outright in 1995. Another candidate of a successor is POP, a UK originated channel which heavily depends on third-party acquisitions, the channel was originally owned by an independent broadcaster called Chart Show Channels (later CSC Media Group) which was then later bought by Sony.