History (American TV channel)
History (formerly The History Channel from 1995 to 2008) is a history-based pay television network that is owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture between Hearst Communications and the Disney Media Networks division of the Walt Disney Company. In addition to its self-named flagship channel, History provides sister channels such as History en Español (Spanish language) and Military History.
|Launched||January 1, 1995|
|Owned by||A&E Networks|
|Slogan||Made Every Day|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, United States|
|Formerly called||The History Channel (1995–2008)|
|C-Band||AMC 18-Channel 258 (H2H 4DTV)|
|Available on most U.S. cable systems||Channel varies|
|Cox Communications||55 (HD) 107 (HD)|
(requires subscription to access content)
|AT&T TV Now||Internet Protocol television|
|Philo||Internet Protocol television|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
The channel originally broadcast documentary programs and historical fiction series. More recently, it has channel drifted to mostly broadcast various male-oriented reality television series such as Pawn Stars, Ax Men, and other nonhistorical content. The network is also criticized by many scientists, historians, and skeptics for broadcasting pseudodocumentaries and unsubstantiated and sensational investigative programming, such as Ancient Aliens, UFO Hunters, Brad Meltzer's Decoded, and the Nostradamus Effect.
As of February 2015, around 96,149,000 American households (82.6% of households with television) receive the network's flagship channel, History. International localized versions of History are available, in various forms, in India, Canada, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
History was launched on January 1, 1995, as The History Channel, its original format focused entirely on historical series and specials.
On February 16, 2008, a new logo was launched on the U.S. network as part of a rebranding effort. While the trademark "H" was kept, the triangle shape on the left acts as a play button for animation and flyouts during commercials and shows. On March 20, 2008, as part of that same rebranding effort, The History Channel dropped "The" and "Channel" from its name to become simply "History".
On June 1, 2015, the History logo was slightly updated, completely removing the triangle shape on the left.
Programming on History has covered a wide range of historical periods and topics, while similar themed topics are often organized into themed weeks or daily marathons. Subjects include warfare, inventions, aviation, mechanical and civil engineering, technology, mythical creatures, monsters, unidentified flying objects, conspiracy theories, aliens, religious beliefs, disaster scenarios, apocalyptic "after man" scenarios, doomsday, and 2012 superstitions. Programming also includes mainstream reality television-style shows involving truck drivers, alligator hunters, pawn stores, antique and collectible "pickers", car restorers, photography, and others. Occasionally, some programs compare contemporary culture and technology with that of the past. On March 3, 2013, History channel premiered its first original series, Vikings.
Criticism and evaluation
During the 1990s, History was jokingly referred to as "The Hitler Channel" for its extensive coverage of World War II. Much of its military-themed programming has been shifted to its sister network Military History.
The network has also been criticized for having a bias towards U.S. history. Another former sister network, History International, more extensively covered history outside the US until in 2011, when it was rebranded as History 2 and started broadcasting more material that had to do with US history.
The network was also criticized by Stanley Kutner for airing the series The Men Who Killed Kennedy in 2003. Kutner was one of three historians commissioned to review the documentary, which the channel disavowed and never aired again. Programs such as Modern Marvels have been praised for their presentation of detailed information in an entertaining format.
Some of the network's series, including Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men, and Pawn Stars, garnered increased viewership ratings in the United States, while receiving criticism over the series' nonhistorical nature. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is a critic of the channel and its lack of historical or educational programming, showing particular disdain for the latter two programs.
Forbes.com staffer Alex Knapp writes, "ideally", "The History Channel shouldn't run stuff like this 'ancient astronaut' nonsense," Forbes contributor Brad Lockwood criticized the channel's addition of "programs devoted to monsters, aliens, and conspiracies" attributing a perceived intent of boosting ratings as propelling the network to feature a focus on pseudoarchaeology instead of facts. Knapp refers readers to the Bad Archaeology website's founder Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews who comments, "I find it incredible and frightening that a worldwide distributed television channel ... can broadcast such rubbish as Ancient Aliens." Archaeologist Kenneth Feder, author of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, called the channel's hosting the ancient astronaut theory, "execrable bullshit".
In his book 2012: It's Not the End of the World, Peter Lemesurier describes the channel's Nostradamus series, in which he was invited to participate, as "largely fiction" and "lurid nonsense". He also lists numerous suggestions made in its films on the alleged Mayan "end of the world" and the "rare" galactic alignment that was supposed by John Major Jenkins to accompany it in 2012, while Jenkins himself has described Decoding the Past as "45 minutes of unabashed doomsday hype and the worst kind of inane sensationalism".
In December 2011, Politifact gave the History Channel's claim that the United States Congress stayed open on Christmas Day for most of its first 67 years of existence a "pants on fire" rating, the lowest of its ratings, noting that its own research showed that both the Senate and the House had only convened once in those 67 years on a Christmas Day and adding that, since there's a one in seven chance of Christmas falling on a Sunday (when Congress did not meet in order to attend church), the claim that they would have convened almost every Christmas is "ridiculous". The claim had first been broadcast on the History Channel program Christmas Unwrapped – The History of Christmas before being subsequently picked up by the American Civil Liberties Union's website on the "Origins of Christmas" and by the Comedy Central series The Daily Show. Daily Show host Jon Stewart responded the next day by stating it was their fault for trusting the History Channel and satirized a clip from the History Channel about UFOs and Nazis by stating, "The next thing you know we'll all find out the Nazis did not employ alien technology in their quest for world domination."
The History Channel was also singled out for ridicule by Smithsonian magazine. The article took issue with the show Ancient Aliens for postulating the "idea that aliens caused the extinction of nonavian dinosaurs". The online magazine Cracked also lampooned the channel for its strange definition of history. Cracked singled out the programs UFO Hunters and Ancient Aliens as being the very definition of nonhistory by presenting pseudoscience and pseudohistory.
Discredited Amelia Earhart documentary
In 2017, a History Channel documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, proposed that a photograph in the National Archives of Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands was actually a picture of a captured Earhart and Noonan. The picture showed a Caucasian male on a dock who appeared to look like Noonan and a woman sitting on the dock, but facing away from the camera, who was judged to have a physique and haircut resembling Earhart's. The documentary theorizes that the photo was taken after Earhart and Noonan crashed at Mili Atoll. The documentary also said that physical evidence recovered from Mili matches pieces that could have fallen off an Electra during a crash or subsequent overland move to a barge. The Lost Evidence proposed that a Japanese ship seen in the photograph was the Koshu Maru, a Japanese military ship.
The Lost Evidence was quickly discredited, however, after Japanese blogger Kota Yamano found the original source of the photograph in the archives in the National Diet Library Digital Collection. The original source of the photo was a Japanese travel guide published in October 1935, implying that the photograph was taken in 1935 or before, thus would be unrelated to Earhart and Noonan's 1937 disappearance. Additionally, the researcher who discovered the photo also identified the ship in the right of the photo as another ship called Koshu seized by Allied Japanese forces in World War I and not the Koshu Maru.
Researcher Ben Radford performed a detailed analysis of the mistakes made by The History Channel in building their documentary on bad photographic evidence. In his Skeptical Inquirer article "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Emmys: An Amelia Earhart Special (Non) Mystery Post-Mortem", critiquing the network's lack of professionalism, Radford said: "Given that the photograph's provenance was established—and thus the key premise of the show discredited—in about half an hour of Google searching, it will be interesting to see what world-class expertise ... the History Channel will bring to their reinvestigation of Earhart's disappearance." On episode 82 of his Squaring the Strange podcast, released January 4, 2019, Radford reminded listeners that in excess of 18 months had passed without an apology or explanation from the History Channel as to "how their research went so horribly wrong".
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- The History Channel: Dogfights – The Game
- The History Channel: Battle for the Pacific
- History Civil War: Secret Missions
- The History Channel: Lost Worlds
- The History Channel: Battle of Britain 1940
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The History Channel (as it was then known) was not initially related to a similar Canadian service, History Television, which launched in 1997. During the Canadian channel's first several years of operation, despite sharing a similar programming focus, the channels rarely if ever shared programming. Indeed, the phrase "Not available in Canada" became a de facto slogan for the U.S. channel in its early years as a result of its use in promotional ads on American channels that were imported to Canadian pay television providers, particularly A&E.
As late as the late 2000s, flagship History (U.S.) series were slow to reach Canadian viewers (if they aired in that country at all); Ice Road Truckers debuted in 2007, but did not join the History Television schedule until early 2009. However, the relationship between the two has improved since then. On May 30, 2012, History Television's current owner, Shaw Media, announced that it would rebrand the channel as a Canadian version of History in the fall of 2012, through a licensing agreement with A+E Networks. History Television relaunched as History on August 12, 2012; shortly thereafter, another Shaw-owned specialty channel was relaunched as a Canadian version of H2.
On October 21, 2014, Corus Entertainment reached an agreement to acquire Canadian French-language rights to History programming for its own channel, Historia. On March 9, 2015, the network was relaunched under History's logo and branding, although the network still carries the Historia name. Historia was previously owned as a joint venture between Shaw and Astral Media (merged with Bell Media in 2013), which made it a sister to History; Corus purchased the network in 2013.
On April 1, 2016, Corus Entertainment acquired Shaw Media, and as a result, now co-owns both History Canada and the Canadian English-language rights to the History library of original programming with Historia and the Canadian French-language rights to the History library of original programming.
UK and Ireland
The British version launched in November, 1995, and arrived in Ireland on November 1, 1999.
The German version launched on November 14, 2004, and is operated by The History Channel Germany GmbH & Co. KG, a joint venture between A+E Networks and NBC Universal Global Networks Germany.
The Italian version was launched on July 31, 2003 as a joint venture of A&E Networks and Fox International Channels Italy; then it became a sole venture of A&E Networks in 2012.
Spain and Portugal
The History Channel is available in Spain and Portugal though cable, satellite, and IPTV platforms, as well as streaming media under the brand Canal de Historia. The History Channel Iberia is a joint venture between A+E Networks and AMC Networks International Iberia.
The Dutch version has launched on May 1, 2007. This version is distributed by A&E Networks Benelux. In January 2008, History HD was launched in the Netherlands. It is available on cable providers Telenet and Ziggo. It is also available on the IPTV service KPN.
A Polish version was launched on April 9, 2008. It is available on cable providers Aster, Dialog, Toya, and UPC Polska, and also through satellite television (with its HD version carried on the n platform since June 1, 2012) and an SD version on Cyfra+ since November 2, 2009).
A Scandinavian version was first launched in September 1997, broadcasting for three and later four hours a day on the analogue Viasat platform. Initially time-sharing with TV1000 Cinema, it was later moved to the Swedish TV8 channel and continued broadcasting there until November 2004. When History channel announced their own 24-hour pan-European channel, Viasat launched its own history-oriented channel, Viasat History, in the Nordic region, but with no original programming. On February 1, 2007, the History Channel returned to Sweden and also Denmark, Norway, Finland when the pan-European version was launched as a standalone channel on the Canal Digital satellite platform and later through cable operator Com hem. The History Channel launched on February 1, 2007, on the Canal Digital DTH satellite package for viewers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The channel is being launched by The History Channel UK, A&E's joint venture with BSkyB. Although it broadcasts in English with local subtitles, the channel is scheduled separately from the UK version.
The History Channel started its operations in India in late 2003 with 21st Century Fox's STAR TV as its sales partner, managed by National Geographic until November 21, 2008. The History Channel India closed down on November 21, 2008. In 2011, History was granted permission to relaunch services in India. A joint venture of A&E Networks and TV18 relaunched History TV18 in India in eight languages in 2014. A joint venture of AETN and Astro All Asia Networks launched the History Channel in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brunei in the second and third quarters of 2007, and in Taiwan and China by the end of the year. Some other Asian countries, such as Kuwait, Israel, and Japan, have their own versions of the network. On September 1, 2008, History Channel Asia was officially launched in Singapore and Hong Kong followed by the Philippines.
The South Korean version of History Channel was launched on September 22, 2017, replacing the Southeast version that was previously transmitted. After the launch, A+E networks Korea launched an original series program called History in the Bottle (말술클럽).
The Latin American version was launched in 2001. It is owned by A&E and controlled in the region by HBO Latin America Group. It airs U.S. programming, translated to Spanish or Portuguese or in English with Spanish or Portuguese subtitles. Also, it develops some Latin American programming in Spanish.
The History channel is part of the DSTV satellite TV package provided by MultiChoice. DSTV is owned by Naspers (Nasionale Pers, which translates as National Press).
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