BBC Prime

BBC Prime was the BBC’s general entertainment TV channel in Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Asia Pacific from 30 January 1995 until 11 November 2009, when it was replaced by BBC Entertainment.

Former television station

This article’s lead sectionmay be too short to adequately summarize the key points. (December 2021)
BBC Prime
Country United Kingdom
Broadcast area Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Asia Pacific
Picture format 576i (4:3/16:9SDTV)
Owner BBC
Launched 30 January 1995; 26 years ago (1995-01-30)
Replaced BBC World Service Television
Closed 11 November 2009; 12 years ago (2009-11-11)
Replaced by BBC Entertainment
(BBC Entertainment)

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This section does not cite any sources. (December 2021)

BBC Prime was launched at 19:00 GMT on Thursday, 26 January 1995 when the former BBC World Service Television was split into two separate television stations:

  • BBC World: a 24-hour English free-to-air terrestrial international news channel airing news bulletins, information, business and financial, news magazine and current affairs programmes. Now known as BBC World News.
  • BBC Prime: a 24-hour English subscription lifestyle, variety and entertainment channel airing variety, culture, leisure, lifestyle, art and light entertainment programmes. Now known as BBC Entertainment.

The channel broadcast drama, comedy and lifestyle programmes which it repeated on a monthly basis. Every day since the channel’s 2000 rebrand, it allocated six hours per day to educational programmes from BBC Learning (shown in the European small hours, between 01:00 and 07:00 CET); this practice was abandoned on 23 July 2006 “with the intention of improving the relevance and appeal of the channel to the widest audience”.[1] It also included a special children’s strand, using the CBBC brand and idents, by the name of CBBC on BBC Prime, or CBBC Prime.

When it first launched, BBC Prime also carried programming from the former ITV company Thames Television, since BBC Worldwide had a joint venture with Thames’s parent company, Pearson and Cox Communications, known as European Channel Management.[2] However, this was dissolved in 1998.[3]

BBC Prime explained their decision to schedule older programmes in addition to newer ones: “For the majority of our viewers, who are European and African nationals, this is the first chance to see these programmes, and often the only way to view them.”[4]

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