BBC Choice was a BBC TV station which launched on September 23, 1998 and closed on February 8, 2003. It was the first British TV channel to broadcast exclusively in digital format, as well as the BBC’s second non-terrestrial channel launch (following on from the BBC News channel in 1997).
BBC Choice initially broadcast from 5 pm nightly; this later switched to 7 pm. The 7 pm start carried over into its successor BBC Three. BBC Choice also aired children’s programmes, initially at weekends and subsequently daily during the daytime; this duty transferred to CBBC Channel and CBeebies when they launched in February 2002.
When BBC Choice launched, no digital TV receivers were available to the general public as Sky Digital (launched October 1, 1998) and ONdigital (November 15, 1998) had not yet launched. Instead, the launch was broadcast online over the internet, with the first day’s schedule including a Tomorrow’s World guide to digital television and repeats of the very first episodes of EastEnders and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
In August 2000, the BBC announced that it would replace BBC Choice as soon as possible with BBC Three, which would be a continuation of the “youth” aspect of the new BBC Choice. But the government delayed approving the relaunch, which formed part of wider plans to reshape the BBC’s digital provision, plans which also included the proposed BBC Four, two children’s channels and five digital radio stations.
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