Meh, Channel 4 can pump out decent stuff when it wants too. These days, it's not the province of any one broadcaster.
When it wants to, between episodes of Gogglebox or Naked Attraction! Actually, Channel 5 is the one that surprises me with the quality of its history programming.
 
Prevent/minimise the 2008 recession. Its no coincidence that the Reality boom came at a time when money became more scarce, so reality shows were cheaper and more cost effective then the average doc.

Another way could be to focus more on period/historical fiction series. They've already done this with the likes of Vikings, Houdini, Knightfall, and Hatfields and McCoys. That's jist a handful, but they're all from the early 2010's.
 
The problem is that a realistic program about something like Oak Island or the death of Hitler is maybe a couple of hours of TV. On the other hand you can fill 20-30 hours if you credulously misinterpret every piece of pseudo-evidence and go off on one wild goose chase after another.
 
It's also hard because there are many, many YouTubers who fill their niche. Hell, there's entire websites for it like CuriosityStream that's basically their old premise as a dedicated streaming service. This is what happens when their bottom line gets cut and they become obsolete: Shark jumping.
A negative part that you do not know about that change, is that outside of English there are not many good history channels on the internet, I loved to watch documentaries for hours and hours, it was something very relaxing, now? Basically I no longer have any of that, there are no documentaries, therefore no one dubs them into my language anymore, I am completely screwed, I lost one of my favorite hobbies
 
Actually, Channel 5 is the one that surprises me with the quality of its history programming.
**glares at Last Days of Jesus**
Anyway, that is a bit surprising. I would've thought Channel 4 would have tried to keep up (considering boatloads of BBC and Ch4 factual content make their way across the Atlantic for use on PBS), but that's just me.
 
- Combine it with the military channel
- Play History movies (Band of Brothers, Gettysburg, We Were Soldiers, etc.)
- More ranked list based tv show, like ranking US presidents, military generals, scientists, etc.
- Get antique roadshow
- Use the profits from the above shows to air more traditional shows during non busy hours of the day.


Either that, or try to get PBS to buy out the history channel.
 
You know reading through this topic has made me realize how cool it is to have all these history-based channels and platforms. Back then we just accepted the History Channel airing mostly World War II and American-based stuff just because that was the best we could get.
 
And much of this is cheaper than real history, right?

For example, reality TV can sometimes be excellent (sometimes not!) and I understand is quite a bit cheaper than hiring actors.
You're right, it's all to do with cost. Hiring alien quacks just happy for any pay check and making reality tv shows is cheaper substantially cheaper.

That's trend most old media has gone for, reality tv is unimaginably cheaper than making pretty much anything else.
 
Last edited:
Nobody (except us) cares for History anymore.
In Academic circles history of the type that used to feed the History Channel is now regarded as "Dead White Man" studies and career suicide.
Vaguely historical TV shows are currently replacing history. Soon English XX century history will be replaced by "The Crown TV universe"
This came through my news feed this morning.

It seems all sorts of relevant. Going over and over a historical event to find a new angle. A non-white angle with bonus unsurprising historical racism. Looks like the documentary is selling well in China, so on one hand great to see a new market expand, but we all know about China and freedom of information.

Anyway. Interesting.
 
Either that, or try to get PBS to buy out the history channel.
Due to how PBS is structured, that would be a bit problematic for it to take on A&E Networks (the owners of the History Channel). OTOH, there is a potential opening with the Congressional mandate that created the Independent Television Service and the rise of the Learningsmith chain of retail stores (remember those?).

Now, according to Wiki, the History Channel itself was founded in 1995 by A&E Networks (after being in the works since 1993), and some programs that fit that category were moved from the main A&E channel. A&E proper, it turns out, was a joint venture between Hearst Communications and ABC on one hand (through ARTS) and RCA (> NBC at that time) and Radio City Music Hall on another (through ARTS's other competitor, the Entertainment Channel - another foray by CBS had closed down much earlier). Also, in 1993, Radio City Music Hall bowed out (NBC would follow much later). At the same time, in the middle of George H.W. Bush's administration, Congress passed a law mandating the creation of ITVS, itself funded by the CPB, because activists believed that public broadcasting was not doing enough to fulfill its mission towards minority audiences and independent producers. As a result, ITVS itself became a thing, with its mission being:
ITVS brings independently produced programs to television - programs that engage creative risks, advance issues, and represent points of view not usually seen on commercial or public television. ITVS is committed to programming which addresses the needs of under-served audiences, particularly minorities and children.
Source: <https://web.archive.org/web/20010204011800/http://www.itvs.org/about/index.html>
More here: <https://current.org/1989/09/indepen...ticles-incorporation-1989/?wallit_nosession=1>
In 1991, too, the Learningsmith chain of retail stores became a thing, starting in Boston.

So there's a small window of opportunity to address handling a takeover by public broadcasting of A&E Networks before Disney's purchase of ABC in 1996. Due to the unique politics of public broadcasting and its fragmented nature, however, PBS would only be in a secondary role after the purchase goes through (maybe some brand licensing agreement, since PBS is a service and not a system, though it all depends on politics). Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that around the same time as the formation of ITVS, a new foundation/trust fund/public broadcasting organization is set up. For all intents and purposes, let's call it "the Learningsmith Foundation", well before the Learningsmith chain is formed. Who would make up its component owners? I would argue it could include:
>the Interregional Programming Service, itself founded by WGBH as the Eastern Educational Network (EEN), an early attempt to create a public television network (indeed, I'm thinking the Learningsmith Foundation would eventually absorb the Interregional Programming Service);
>Minority participation through the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium, the National Black Programming Consortium, and the Center for Asian-American Media;
>CPB participation through the Annenberg/CPB Project (and hence grant money from the Annenberg Foundation);
>and key member stations themselves, who each have a stake in the foundation as co-founders/owners. To make things simple, I'll limit those stations to those who participated in the Documentary Consortium originally responsible for the Frontline program (so WGBH/Boston, WNET/New York, KCTS/Seattle, WPBT/Miami, and WTVS/Detroit, through their respective station owners, the WGBH Educational Foundation (or even the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council, of which the WGBH Educational Foundation was originally an organ of), the Educational Broadcasting Corporation, KCTS Television, the Community Television Foundation of South Florida, and the Detroit Educational Television Foundation) and KCET/Los Angeles (the original West Coast flagship for PBS).
Also, from the beginning, the Learningsmith Foundation has a non-exclusive agreement with ITVS, allowing ITVS content to be broadcast/distributed with the Learningsmith Foundation's content and networks. Maybe the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society themselves could get involved with the Learningsmith Foundation.

Now, the main problem would be gaining control of A&E Networks. Radio City Music Hall is an obvious target (probably in conjunction with it joining the Learningsmith Foundation), as would GE (> NBC) as it manages the breakup of RCA. All that would be left would be ABC/Capital Cities and Hearst. To get it to work would require a merger of A&E Networks with the Interregional Programming Service through some complex transactions, but it would be enough to get A&E within the fold. In addition, a better business model for the Learningsmith stores would be needed to make them work. At the same time, there would be some sort of working partnership with PBS, due to the composition of the Learningsmith Foundation's members.

But at least there would be a solid foundation for a non-profit A&E (and hence the *History Channel) to take off, as well as continuing to syndicate programming for public television, that it could be seen as a secondary organ of the CPB alongside ITVS, PBS, and NPR. From there, the History and History International channels could be formed, although on a different basis from the OTL History Channel (even though it would still be a spin-off of A&E), as well as providing a more solid foundation for a public affairs channel (what ultimately became Link TV and the World channels) and lifelong learning channels (what ultimately became Create and formerly PBS YOU and the Annenberg Channel). In fact, one of the non-A&E channels which could be formed under the Learningsmith Foundation aegis would be a joint venture with ITVS and the Internews charity, WorldLink TV (which ultimately became Link TV IOTL, though ITTL with a much earlier launch date). This would also place public broadcasting at an advantage during the digital TV transition, because it can set up DTT versions of its cable/satellite channels which other public TV stations and AFRTS/AFN can carry.

Something to start off with, I guess, but the main point here is that not only would the History Channel be affected if it went towards public broadcasting, so too would A&E. So both would have to be considered, including having A&E stick to its original format of fine arts and secondary general entertainment. Within that, the possibilities are pretty open.
 
- Combine it with the military channel
- Play History movies (Band of Brothers, Gettysburg, We Were Soldiers, etc.)
- More ranked list based tv show, like ranking US presidents, military generals, scientists, etc.
- Get antique roadshow
- Use the profits from the above shows to air more traditional shows during non busy hours of the day.


Either that, or try to get PBS to buy out the history channel.

That's a very good idea. ESPN is mostly garbage now other than live events, but they did "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame" and "Who's #1".
 
**glares at Last Days of Jesus**
Oh Christ, I'd forgotten about that particular gem. Okay, I take it back 😂
Anyway, that is a bit surprising. I would've thought Channel 4 would have tried to keep up (considering boatloads of BBC and Ch4 factual content make their way across the Atlantic for use on PBS), but that's just me.
I'm not saying it's amazing on Channel 5 but they seem to be taking factual programming a little more seriously than they used to.
 
Oh Christ, I'd forgotten about that particular gem. Okay, I take it back 😂
I mean, it was a pretty well-made documentary, with some elements which on their own followed both the mainstream historical consensus and recent discoveries (though I wish more attention was paid to the Sepphoris angle, which is the probably the most important recent discovery in Biblical archaeology and is forcing everyone to rethink their assumptions about Jesus). It was also, I agree, a surprise coming from (based on my perception of how British TV channels are viewed there, from a trans-Atlantic perspective where most British content comes from BBC and Channel 4, occasionally from ITV [especially Inspector Morse]) a channel better known for a long time as being the epitome of "trash TV". On the other hand, what made it jump the shark for me was how they made random connections between all of them as a coherent narrative, probably due to selective editing of their interviews and also because it seemed hell-bent on pushing a certain narrative. It's no Jesus: The Evidence, but it's up there (even though both documentaries, on their own, have some value that I wouldn't mind rewatching them over again, as long as one is watching them critically). Surely, with all the resources now available from CBS, Channel 5 could have produced something much better. Even the Discovery Channel's 3-part series, Who Was Jesus?, was much better for that level of quality.

I'm not saying it's amazing on Channel 5 but they seem to be taking factual programming a little more seriously than they used to.
And that is definitely a surprise. Even more so was that Last Days of Jesus, despite its leaps of logic, made it to PBS, which was a great surprise to someone like me. We shall see what happens next if more of their content makes its way across the Atlantic.
 
nekophoenix-space-bat.png

You want what?
I am a Alien Space Bat, not a miracle worker.
There is no way to do that.
 
Now that I think about it, the whole Learningsmith Foundation proposal could help push PBS towards reform in another direction. While this has no verified sources backing it up, it does resonate with what I've read from public broadcasting advocates, including those pushing for reform of the system (typically towards making it a trust similar to the Red Cross or the USOC):
One less obvious, but nonetheless true, example of the phenomenon has occurred since the 1980s in American public television. From the origins of the medium in the late 1950s, stations, who were then affiliated with National Educational Television, the precursor to the current PBS, served two specific audiences: first, they provided, on weekdays, instructional programming for children used in school classrooms, to supplement traditional curricula; second, they served adults (on evenings and weekends) by scheduling shows that were alternatives to the fare available on commercial broadcasting, such as theatrical plays, classical music concerts, literary dramas, and serious public affairs initiatives like investigative reporting and civil discussion of political matters, things that had been mostly abandoned by the commercial networks with the end of the Golden Age of Television in and around 1960. Beginning with the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the Federal government, along with those of most U.S. states, invested in production and distribution of such programming via NET/PBS and the construction of a large number of new stations. The political climate of the time was decidedly liberal and thus supportive of generous governmental funding of the medium, which developed its institutions accordingly.

However, the 1970s saw a political turn rightward, increasingly suspicious of Federal programs especially, and originally-anticipated steady increases in public taxpayer support did not materialize, leaving the new PBS and its stations with significant monetary gaps that had to be filled by other sources. "Pledge drives," at least an annual occurrence on stations, emerged in the mid-1970s to address cutbacks from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that occurred due to political changes and the economic recessions of that period; members of the general public would donate money to the station in exchange for certain privileges. Also, stations and program producers began to cultivate so-called "underwriting" (a modified form of advertising that did not interrupt shows in progress) from businesses, particularly large corporations who were then motivated by a sense of noblesse oblige to their communities and the country at large (in later years, these grants would become more targeted toward certain genres, raising suspicions by critics that they constituted de facto commercial advertising). This generated another large source of revenue. Some stations went so far as to stage week-long "auctions" of merchandise or services donated by retailers and other businesses, to which viewers would place "bids," from which the winner would receive the item or service in exchange for a donation to the station; these were quite successful in many markets from the 1970s through the 2000s.

In order to attract audiences who would donate to stations, which, in turn, purchased programming from other stations and producers in the PBS system, program managers felt increasingly that it was necessary to reduce the proportion of cultural and informational shows on the adult schedule, in order to appeal to a wider audience than a small, highly-educated cohort. This especially became the case during pledge drives, which were imagined to be times when non-regular viewers could be appealed to with special programming. With the aging (and eventual death) of audiences who were the most enthusiastic for more serious (and heretofore customary) fare, it was felt that younger viewers with more disposable income would be more interested in programs akin to those they were accustomed to on commercial television rather than formats such as classical dramas (a number of them imports from the British Broadcasting Corporation) and documentaries on sometimes arcane subjects. This led to the introduction of things like lifestyle-oriented shows featuring hobbies like gardening, cooking, and home repair; specialty or niche informational programs like the Nightly Business Report and The Charlie Rose Show; reruns of certain former commercial TV shows (e.g., The Lawrence Welk Show, National Geographic specials); and British-import situation comedies (a la Are You Being Served?, Monty Python's Flying Circus). This amounted to exchanging what is termed as "high-brow" material for a more "middle-brow" approach to programming, while avoiding conspicuously mass-appeal formats such as game shows, crime dramas, sensationalistic news magazines, and celebrity-driven talk shows. By the 1990s and 2000s, pledge drives became mainly reliant on fare such as nostalgic music specials and self-help seminars of often questionable integrity (the latter were in fact not officially sanctioned by PBS and even rebuked by the network's ombudsman).[11] Despite the stated aims to appeal to a non-elderly audience, PBS could not keep up, it seemed to many, with rapid developments in cable television, which began offering alternatives to viewers that were generally more sensationalistic and visually compelling than the staid, restrained traditions of the public medium. Some of those new networks in fact began aping the "how-to" and lifestyle formats that originally became popular via PBS (e.g., HGTV, Food Network). That competition, in turn, began to influence programmers to even further diminish or outright remove any shows considered "stuffy" or slow-paced, which eliminated several long-running staples of the network (e.g., Firing Line [original version], Wall Street Week).

At about the same time, development in technologies such as video cassette recorders enabled schoolteachers to bypass the need to schedule their classes around broadcasts of instructional material; typically, either school support staff would record the shows or teachers would do so themselves by using their VCRs' overnight silent-record function (some stations accommodated the latter practice by using what would otherwise be "dead air" time). Some PBS stations, in fact, took advantage of the changes to directly provide educational programs to schools without using airtime at all, something that accelerated with the emergence of video on demand via the internet in the 2000s. That created a void in the daytime hours that PBS executives decided to fill with a new generation of children's programming, aimed at preschoolers. To supplement beloved historic programs such as Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow, the network and leading stations developed several animated series with an educational and/or ethical emphasis. Part of that was also occasioned by the fact that commercial stations and networks were canceling children's cartoons, many of which were considered of dubious quality in any case, due to changing viewing habits and the FCC mandate, imposed in 1996, that required broadcast stations (of any kind) to include at least three hours per week of informational and educational programs for young people.

Therefore, with the original mission of public television having drastically changed in both its dimensions since its 1950s origins due to technological, political, and cultural shifts, channel drift became quite endemic to PBS and its affiliates. As such, this occurrence has left voids for adult viewers that have been filled mainly by two sources. First, the main fine arts source for television is the cable-and-satellite-distributed Classic Arts Showcase, which is funded entirely by an endowment from the estate of its founder and is not dependent whatsoever on private donations or government funding, unlike the PBS system. Second, serious, civil public affairs programming is frequently found on the C-SPAN networks, non-profit public services provided by cable companies and paid for by a portion of each customer's monthly bill. This supplements PBS news programming such as the PBS Newshour and Washington Week, two of the remaining public affairs programs on the national schedule.
Citation: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_drift#Broadcast>
Now, TBF, not all of it was awful - I have fond memories of watching some of those programs, as a '90s kid and all that. But it does show some of the problems with the PBS service as it stood, and its marginal status is why internationally, the PBS model is usually seen as one to avoid. Combined with the Congressional debates about the relevance of the Voice of America post-Cold War, and moves to dismantle the US Information Agency, the Learningsmith Foundation could be one way to "shake things up" towards better public broadcasting in the US.
 
You're right, it's all to do with cost. Hiring alien quacks just happy for any pay check and making reality tv shows is cheaper substantially cheaper.

That's trend most old media has gone for, reality tv is unimaginably cheaper than making pretty much anything else.
I wonder, are the alien quacks any cheaper than say getting random adjunct history professor from a state school?

Because I would think it wouldn't be any more expensive to make actual history documentaries than all that reality TV stuff, Ancient Aliens is basically a kook in a chair talking with some low budget CGI thrown in, why not do the same thing, just talk about real history?

Am I missing something here?
 
Wasn't there a single person responsible for the decline of both History Channel and TLC?

Anyway, today everyone can get extremely high quality historical content from Youtube, TV is not even needed for anything truly
 
Last edited:
Top