Channel) is an American cable TV specialty channel which initially focused on educational content. Since 1991 TLC has been owned by Discovery Communications, the same company that operates the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and The Science Channel, as well as other learning-themed networks. The channel is one of the few cable networks also legally available in Canada under its original American interpretation.
TLC imports a significant amount of programming material from the United Kingdom (such as Junkyard Wars) mostly through its parent company's ties to the BBC. It also produces U.S. versions of some shows (like What Not to Wear, originally a BBC production) as well as original programming (like Robotica). Other shows come from other Discovery brands, such as I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant.
A High Definition simulcast of TLC was launched on 1 September 2007. It is currently available on many cable and satellite systems in the United States and Canada, including Bell TV, Cogeco, Cox, Dish Network, DirecTV, Shaw Cable, Rogers Cable, Mediacom, insight Communications, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and Comcast.
Main article: List of programs broadcast by TLC==History==
The Learning Channel: “a place for learning minds”Edit
The channel was founded in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and NASA as an informative/instructional network focused on providing real education through the medium of TV; it was distributed at no cost by NASA satellite. It was privatized in 1980 and was then named the Appalachian Community Service Network. In November 1980 this name was changed to "The Learning Channel", which was subsequently shortened to "TLC." The channel mostly featured documentary content pertaining to nature, science, history, current events, medicine, technology, cooking, home improvement and other information-based topics. These are often agreed to have been more focused, more technical, and of a more academic nature than the content that was being broadcast at the time on its rival, The Discovery Channel. The station was geared towards an inquisitive and narrow audience during this time, and had modest ratings except for "Captain's Log with Captain Mark Gray". This was a boating safety series which aired on TLC from 1987 to 1990 and achieved between a 4.5 to 6 in the ratings. "Captain's Log" was also the highest compensated series in the history of TLC, with over 30 times the compensation of any other series on TLC at that time and was allowed to sign yearly rather than quarterly contracts.
By the early 1990s, The Learning Channel was a sister channel to the Financial News Network (FNN) which owned 51 percent of the channel with Infotechnology Inc. After FNN went into bankruptcy in 1991, the Discovery Channel's owners went into talks of buying The Learning Channel. An agreement was made with FNN and Infotech to buy their shares for million. The non-profit Appalachian Community Service Network owned 35 percent of the network, and was also bought out.
The Learning Channel continued to be focused primarily on instructional and educational programming through much of the '90s, but began to air shows less focused on education and more themed towards popular consumption and mass-marketing; these would be later expanded.
TLC still aired educational programs such as Paleoworld (a show about prehistoric creatures), though more and more of its programming began to be devoted to niche audiences for shows regarding subjects like home improvement (HomeTime and Home Savvy were two of the first), arts and crafts (similar to Martha Stewart), crime programs such as The New Detectives, medical programming (particularly reality-based ones following real operations of real people and following them through the process), and other shows that appealed to daytime audiences, particularly housewives. This was to be indicative of a major change in programming content and target audience over the next few years.
"Life Unscripted": a new directionEdit
Perhaps due to poor ratings from a narrow target audience, TLC began to explore new avenues starting in the mid 1990s, deemphasizing educational material in favor of entertainment. "Ready Set Learn", the network's children's block, was slowly reduced through the years as the network deliberately redirected viewers towards the full-day line-up of children's programming on Discovery Kids until completely evaporating in late 2008, while Cable in the Classroom programming, meant for recording by teachers, had completely disappeared by the early 2000s.
In 1998 the channel began to distance itself from its original name "The Learning Channel", and instead began to advertise itself only as "TLC".
During the period of 1999–2001 there was a huge shift in programming, with most programming geared towards reality-drama and interior design shows. The huge success of shows like Trading Spaces, Junkyard Wars, A Wedding Story and A Baby Story exemplified this new shift in programming towards more mass-appeal shows.
This came at a time when Discovery itself was overhauling much of its own programming, introducing shows like American Chopper (which Discovery moved to TLC for a stint). Much of the old, more educationally focused programming can still be found occasionally dispersed amongst other channels owned by Discovery Communications. Most programming today is geared towards reality-based drama or interests such as home design, emergency room dramas, other medical dramas, extreme weather, law enforcement, dating and human interest programs.
"Live and learn"Edit
On March 27, 2006, the network launched a new look and promotional campaign, dropping the "Life Unscripted" tag and going with the new theme, "Live and learn", trying to turn around the network's reliance on decorating shows and reality TV programming. As part of the new campaign the channel's original name, The Learning Channel, has returned to occasional usage in promotions. The new theme also plays on life lessons.
In early March 2008, TLC launched a slightly refreshed look and promotional campaign, alongside a new slogan: "Life surprises". This new slogan came as TLC began to shift even more to personal stories, with a shift away from the once-dominating home improvement shows. Programs focused on family life became the core of the channel. Jon & Kate Plus 8, which by 2008 was the highest-rated program on TLC, and Little People, Big World were joined by 17 Kids and Counting (which became 18 Kids and Counting and then 19 Kids and Counting), and Table for 12 in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Also premiering on TLC in 2009 was Cake Boss, which focuses on the head baker at Carlo's Bakery and his staff, who mostly consist of his family.
A British version of the channel was launched in 1994 and was subsequently renamed "Discovery Home and Leisure" and later Discovery Real Time as part of Discovery's catalog of themed channels.
An Indian version was launched in 2006 under the jurisdiction of Discovery Channel. It was relaunched as TLC on September 1, 2010.
TLC's American feed is also available in Canada, one of a few American specialty channels allowed entry into Canada as per Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regulation.
The Latin American TLC HD, was launched on December 1, 2009, exclusively in high-definition, in the same style as the American channel (most of TLC's programming is available in standard-definition on Discovery Home & Health).
A Norwegian version of the channel was launched on March 4, 2010 as TLC Norway, replacing the European version of Discovery Travel & Living in Norway.
On September 1, 2010, the Asia Pacific versions of Discovery Travel & Living was relaunched as TLC, with the acronym standing for "Travel and Living Channel".
On October 1, 2010, the Polish version of Discovery Travel & Living was relaunched as TLC Poland, replacing the European version of Discovery Travel & Living in Poland.
TLC Balkans was also launched on October 1, 2010, replacing the European version of the "Travel & Living Channel" Slovenia, Serbia and Bulgaria. TLC Balkans' playout is from Belgrade, Serbia.
On July 4, 2011, a Dutch version was launched, time sharing with Animal Planet's standard definition feed. Animal Planet remains a 24 hour service for high-definition viewers.
On 1st September, 2011, the South African feed will replace the Discovery Travel & Living channel on TopTV by TLC with an all-new schedule.
On 3rd October, 2011, TLC Greece is already broadcasting at Conn-x TVIPTV and OTE TV satellite.
On 1st November, 2011, the Latin American version of Discovery Travel & Living was relaunched as TLC: Travel & Living Channel, which now also has a dedicated feed for Brazil.
The channel has been criticized for departing from the original nature of its programming, by airing shows of controversial nature with what is described as no educational value. TLC programs that were under fire from critics and the media included Toddlers and Tiaras, Sarah Palin's Alaska, Extreme Couponing, 19 Kids and Counting, Kate Plus 8, Sister Wives and Long Island Medium. The channel won the 2011 Pigasus Award in the Media Category.