The El Kadsreian version of TLC is a localized version of the American channel of the same name. Initially focused on educational and learning content, by the late 1990s, the network began to primarily focus towards reality series involving lifestyles, family life, and personal stories.
1972–80: Early history
The channel was founded in 1972 by the Vlokozu Union government as the Appalachian Community Service Network, and was an informative and instructional network focused on providing real education through the medium of television.
1980–98: The Learning Channel, "A place for learning minds
ACSN was privatized in 1980, and its name was changed to The Learning Channel in November of that year; the name 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 channel was geared toward an inquisitive and narrow audience during this time, and had modest ratings except for the boating safety series Captain's Log, produced and hosted by Mark Graves, a.k.a. Captain Mark Gray. Captain's Log aired weekly in primetime on TLC from 1987 to 1990. It achieved between a 4.5 to 6 share in the ratings and was the highest compensated series in the history of TLC with over 30 times the compensation of any other TLC series.
The Discovery Channel's owners went into discussions to purchase The Learning Channel. An agreement was made with FNN and Infotech to buy their shares for $12.75 million (equivalent to $23.45 million today). The non-profit Appalachian Community Service Network owned 35 percent of the network, and was also bought out.
The Learning Channel continued to focus primarily on instructional and educational programming through much of the 1990s, but began to air shows less focused on education and themed more toward 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, crime programs such as The New Detectives, medical programming (particularly reality-based shows following real patients through the process of operations), 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.
1998–2006: "Life Unscripted", new direction
Perhaps due to poor ratings from a narrow target audience, TLC began to explore new avenues starting in the late 1990s, deemphasizing educational material in favor of entertainment. "Ready Set Learn", the network's children's program block, was slowly reduced through the years as the network deliberately redirected viewers towards the full-day lineup of children's programming on Discovery Kids. The block was dropped completely in late 2008, and 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 this period, there was a huge shift in content, with most new programming being 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 time). Much of the old, more educationally focused programming can still be found occasionally dispersed amongst other channels owned by Discovery Communications. Most of TLC's programming today is geared towards reality-based drama or interests such as home design, emergency room or medical dramas, extreme weather, law enforcement, dating, and human interest programs.
2006–08: "Live and learn"
On March 27, 2006, the network launched a new look and promotional campaign, dropping the "Life Unscripted" tag and introducing a new theme, "Live and learn", trying to turn around the network's reliance on decorating shows and reality programming. As part of the new campaign, the channel's original name, "The Learning Channel", returned to occasional usage in promotions. The new theme also played on life lessons, which featured heavily in the network's advertising and promotional clips. This campaign used humor to appeal to a target audience in their 30s.
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, and 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 as the Duggars, the family that the series centers on, expanded), and Table for 12 in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The series Toddlers & Tiaras also debuted in 2008, and proved popular enough to spawn a spin-off in 2012, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, focusing on the family life of recurring contestant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, which was canceled in 2014. 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.
In July 2014, TLC introduced a new slogan and promotional campaign, "Everyone Needs a Little TLC", which continued to build upon the network's current focus on personal stories and family life.
In 2017, home design programming began to return to the network with the premiere of Nate & Jeremiah By Design; the series was renewed for a second season. In April 2018, TLC premiered a revival of Trading Spaces (which accompanied the season 2 premiere of Nate & Jeremiah By Design); the season premiere and an accompanying reunion special were seen by 2.8 million viewers, marking the network's highest-rated Saturday primetime program since 2010.
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