Overseas TV History

As always, thank you so much for your detailed background information, Medianext!


A selection of vintage openers from America’s 3 main networks’ sports anthology programs:
CBS Sports Spectacular (1975)

NBC SportsWorld (early 1980s)

ABC Wide World of Sports (1991)


From 1992, an edition of The World Today, CNN’s flagship early evening newscast:


Another CNN newscast from 1992, Early Prime, this one showing the channel’s main newsroom at the CNN Center (it starts with a couple of promos):

This theme and the one in the post above are among my all-time favorite CNN themes.

A look at the first 50 year’s of the Reporting Scotland, the BBC’s flagship newscast for that constituent nation:


Stumbled onto this a few days ago. Manchester-based community radio host and blogger Johnny Robinson (Jonkasonic) has been working on a light-hearted review of the history of some of the pioneering British and pan-European satellite & cable channels. Part 2 of the 90s retrospective set to follow soon.


A compilation of some funny and creative ads from WRAL-TV in Raleigh where they mock soap operas to promote the arrival of announcer Bob DeBardelaben to the station’s weather department in 1976. He served in that position until his retirement in 1989.

FR3’s sign-on sequence from 1986 with a very nice instrumental theme.


Much of that sequence was used for FR3’s news opens at that time. Here’s the 7 p.m. edition:


By the way, FR3’s regional news opens at the time combined the same footage with regional scenes, as you can see in this midday edition from the Nord Pas-de-Calais region:


An old school news bulletin from Chicago’s WGN in October 1981 called “Night Beat”, where announcer Marty McNeeley reads the stories from his paper scripts rather from a teleprompter. There’s also a big microphone at the desk. (see at the 5:30 minute mark)

A vintage, black and white weather report from Italy’s RAI in February 1974, presented by meteorologist Edmondo Bernacca.


The launch of América 24 on March 8, 2005. The channel replaced CVN, the first ever news channel in Argentina, which had been bought two years before by Mendoza businessmen Daniel Vila and José Luis Manzano (Grupo UNO) alongside América TV, from Carlos Ávila. The complete relaunch of the channel was needed as CVN had lost its identity completely, with paid programming (both time-brokered infotainment shows and advertorials) filling most of the slots.

Guillermo Andino and María Belén Aramburu were the channel’s first presenters, and its content was supplemented by new shows featuring a number of América current affairs presenters, including Antonio Laje, Mauro Viale, Dolores Cahen D’Anvers, Alfredo Leuco and Gustavo López. News shows were aired only on weekdays, with weekends still filled by paid programming, although with hourly headlines and weather read by a voice over.

The channel wouldn’t gain initially the same recognition as its predecessor, mainly because news channel viewership had been already absorbed by Todo Noticias and Crónica TV. In an attempt to improve reputation, in 2011, the channel was renamed A24 and launched weekend newscasts. These were reduced in duration some months later as the channel began airing some lower-profile matches from the controversial “Fútbol para Todos” initiative from the Government and Canal 7 (TV Pública).

However, from then, the channel’s viewership began to improve, specially from 2017, when a highly explosive new presentation style implemented by Juan Cruz Ávila (son of Carlos Ávila) and the hiring of right-leaning pundits Eduardo Feinmann, Jonatan Viale, Jorge Rial, Viviana Canosa, Luis Majul, Baby Etchecopar and Fernando Carnota, led to the channel having an big ratings increase, at a degree it placed third between 2018 and 2020. It became one of the most supportive outlets of the Macri government, at a degree it also angered América executives shortly after Alberto Fernández became president, leading to his eventual ousting by Daniel Vila himself.

However, the hiring of Ávila, Feinmann, Viale, Majul and Canosa by La Nación to relaunch its struggling TV channel La Nación Más (LN+) led to the A24 style being imitated by the network under Ávila, down to the aggressive presentation (replacing the more lightweight, pastel-colored graphics and lighter magazine-style programming) and the highly opinionated slots by Feinmann, Viale and Canosa (including the happy talk segment bridging both Feinmann and Viale’s slots), at a degree LN+ has taken the third place slot and has since been considered the Macri-led opposition’s channel of record. In contrast, A24 has fell back to fifth place, and has taken a less politically-active approach under Rolando Graña and Liliana Parodi.


A new video from Adam Martyn–the history of idents on BBC2:


Since CNN is in the news these days, let’s travel 40 years back in time for a 1983 edition of CNN’s PrimeNews during the U.S. invasion of Grenada (but the newscast opens with an item about the shutdown of CNN competitor SNC):


Speaking of which: here’s the final hour of the network, a joint-venture of ABC News and the Westinghouse broadcasting arm (Group W), and the format was largely similar to Headline News, but its newscasts ran between 18 and 20 minutes, aping the 1010 WINS all-news format.

The reluctance of cable systems to carry the network led to its quick demise, nevertheless, over at the network’s Stamford, CT headquarters, it was largely a celebratory demise. CNN quickly bought SNC’s transponder space and was used by Turner to expand distribution of Headline News, which most operators took as SNC’s replacement in its dials.

ABC attempted to launch a news channel once again in 1996, although the announcement and head-start launches of Fox News and MSNBC led to the project being halted altogether, and led to Roone Arledge’s gradual retirement as ABC News president. David Westin would eventually attempt to launch a news network in an experimental paid service in March 2003, before eventually taking it to the then-nascent DTT services in July 2004, as ABC News Now, still in an experimental basis to cover the 2004 election. On February 2005, the experimental phase ended, and by April 2005, a more permanent schedule was launched, now exclusive to cable and paid streaming.

Like SNC, it struggled with little cable and satellite carriage, only being available on regional cable systems and Sprint’s mobile TV service. The channel ceased operations in 2013, as ABC prepared its joint venture with Univision to launch the Fusion network. It became more successful eventually, with more universal distribution on cable and satellite networks, but its eventual struggle on ratings led to ABC leaving the venture on 2016, and Univision eventually folding the network in 2021 as they began focusing on its core Hispanic outlets and working on its reverse merger with Televisa.

Another competitor to Headline News as a bare-bones news service was the All News Channel, a service operated by Viacom (still as a cable channel producer and syndicated distributor) and St. Paul, Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting. Launched in 1989 and based out of KSTP (Hubbard’s flagship station), it was a mostly jukeboxed service, with 30-minute newscasts updated live five times a day and then repeated up to twelve times until the next program aired.

Unlike CNN, All News Channel used footage and reports from member stations integrated in the CONUS Communications video sharing service (which was owned by Viacom and Hubbard), using SNG vehicle equipment which had been pioneered by Hubbard during the mid-80s.

Although never profitable, the digestible format was successful during the 90s, as many local stations (mainly independents) did prefer to take the network feed instead of closing down. Additionally, many cable networks (including those owned by Viacom) had news briefs produced by them. However, the arrival of Fox News and MSNBC began affecting ANC’s fortunes, as well as the networks increasingly airing its own overnight news blocks, leading to its demise in 2002.


A demo reel of the graphics used by Argentina’s Televisión Pública between 2014 and 2016.

And here’s a look at some break bumpers used during that period (the Inicio/Fin Espacio Publicitario bumpers were mandated by the 26.522 Media Law at the time).

These graphics were designed by Guillermo Stein’s design shop Steinbranding. Having worked with a big number of Argentinian and international TV channels (including the Fox networks and Indian TV cable channels), Stein was hired as consultant creative director by TVP (then Canal 7) in an attempt to fully reposition the channel branding-wise, reflecting its federal status as the lone national coverage station (commercial channels in Argentina must work with affiliated stations, but eventually Telefe and Artear do own some local stations) and eventually prepare it for the launch of digital TV services.

The solution by Stein was to start downplaying the red 7 symbol (itself a modern rendition of an old Canal 7 numeral) and eventually replacing it with the “escarapela”, relating to the celebration of the Argentinian independence movement bicentennial. The logo, which launched in 2009, was initially derided, but would eventually became very popular and it would stay on air for a record six years on air; however, the graphics initially made for the package were quickly dropped and the brand standards were quickly botched, especially after the network was renamed “TV Pública Digital”. As a result, Stein was brought back to place some order on the brand.

The rebrand was soft launched during their coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and was fully rolled out at the launch of the spring season. The solution was to reflect Argentinian folklore and aboriginal culture, reflecting the country’s cultural diversity. The existing logo was reworked with a 3D styling, and the brand being shortened to “TVP” (but still verbally known as TV Pública), and a flexible brand solution being put into place, which imitated European broadcasters’ branding and designed to be future-proof. However, the identity only lasted two years, as the Macri government quickly rebranded the network with a much flatter design and identity.

These graphics, however, are associated with one of the best remembered and heavily criticized eras of the PSB: although still low-rated, it had small increases in share through the period and its programming became increasingly more “federal” in flavor, with more shows produced by indie outfits based outside of Buenos Aires, a focus on cultural programming, well remembered and often well received original dramas, and increased coverage of rock and folk concerts.

However, this period also was known for the controversial “Fútbol para Todos” initiative, which returned coverage of top flight football to free TV, with matches produced by TV Pública and independent outfit La Corte; the initiative also landed rights to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It also became infamous for having a series of politically-biased programming with strong Kirchner overtones; the most famous was 6, 7, 8, a daily propagandist analysis program produced by a pro-Kirchner outfit, at a degree it had almost daily a government official in studio. These overt criticisms were the catalyst for the Macri government for the complete relaunch of the station’s brand and programming under Hernán Lombardi in 2016.


A sort-of surreal animation used by Camera 2, a regional news program in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in the early 1990s. This show aired on TV Guaiba, a local independent station which closed down in 2007 when it was purchased by Rede Record. (see at the 0:26 mark)

The opening minutes of Eastern England’s ITV franchise Anglia Television in October 1959.


Here’s a promotional video celebrating the the Satellite News Channel’s first anniversary (which would, of course, be its last):

And a short 1982 promo highlighting SNC’s regional news coverage:


Here’s the SNC theme music which plays on the background of this promo. It was composed by Bob Israel of Score Productions, which was one of the most popular TV theme production companies in the 70s and 80s. The theme was later picked up by ESPN, becoming the first ad-hoc theme music used by SportsCenter; it would be eventually used in conjunction with Vangelis’ Pulstar until the “da-da-da da-da-da” themes by John Colby was introduced on the late 80s.

Here’s an interesting LP reel featuring some of the themes Score did, including those for ABC World News Tonight, The Price is Right, ABC Wide World of Sports and NBC Sports, among others.

Score would also do the legendary “This is CNN” theme music for the network’s 10th anniversary celebrations. The theme, composed by Gary Anderson and Chuck Loeb, was made in a variety of versions, including a full 2:30 version and shorter 60, 30 and 15 second versions, plus ID cues.

It would became synonymous with the network alongside James Earl Jones’ dramatic voice over on these idents, and the longer cues were frequently used in promos; at a degree it was certainly an inspiration for Eyeball NYC’s sonic branding for the CNNI “Go Beyond Borders” rebrand in 2009. The theme was recently brought back during the ill-fated Licht era, now reorchestrated and rearranged by Stephen Arnold Music, for the recent launch of the CNN News Central dayside blocks.

Thanks to the success of the “This is CNN” theme, Score would continue to do themes for CNN for many years, up until the early 2000s.


Thanks for all the info, Medianext!

One of my favorite CNN themes from that era was the one used on WorldWide Update (hence my username). The program was simulcast on CNN and CNN International, and its theme was based on CNN’s musical signature:


@Medianext.MX, can you come up with a history of the UK’s now defunct VH2 (rebranded as MTV Flux and now MTV+1)?

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That voiceover was even referenced by The Simpsons at the time, along with James Earl Jones’ other famous voice roles:

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