Channel M was a regional television station, serving Greater Manchester. The station, originally known as Manchester Student Television, was owned and operated by the GMG Regional Media division of Guardian Media Group.
|Launched||14 February 2000|
|Closed||16 April 2012|
|Owned by||GMG Regional Media|
(Guardian Media Group)
|Picture format||576i 16:9 (SDTV)|
|Formerly called||Manchester Student Television|
(at time of closure)
|Freeview||Channel 200 (Manchester only)|
In 2004 Channel M launched on the NTL (now part of Virgin Media) digital cable platform, around Greater Manchester, mid-Lancashire & Cheshire. In April 2006 Channel M launched on digital satellite, the first RSL channel to be do so, where it was broadcast free-to-air across Western Europe from Astra 28.2°E and was available on Sky. The channel was removed from Sky channel 203 and Virgin Media channel 878 on 1 September 2010.
The channel became the first broadcaster in the region to offer its programmes on demand via broadband TV on its website, which closed down in late March 2010.
In January 2009, the broadcasting regulator OFCOM announced that Channel M would receive a licence to broadcast on Freeview after digital switchover. On 2 December 2009, Channel M ceased broadcasting on analogue terrestrial television UHF channel 39 (615 MHz) as part of the digital switchover. Around this time, the station announced plans to launch on Freeview (digital terrestrial television); broadcasts began on Monday 12 April 2010.
Originally, the main sources of programming were CHUM, Euronews, Channel M's own in-house productions and the University of Salford. The Canadian-sourced output was gradually replaced by in-house Channel M Productions as the station invested and developed more local programming, particularly following the station's launch on digital satellite services in April 2006. Major cutbacks saw most of the station's non-news output axed in May 2009. Remaining GMG production ceased on 19 March 2010, leaving the station with a schedule of archive and acquired output.
Salford University input / outputEdit
The history of Channel M can be traced back to the 1996 Broadcasting Act which made provision for six local Restricted Service Licences (RSL) to be issued around the UK. The Manchester RSL was awarded to the University of Salford in 1997 and the channel began life as Manchester Student Television (MSTV) operated by a consortium that included the University of Salford and Guardian Media Group, amongst others. All partners started producing content in the autumn of 1998, and this was stockpiled in advance of launch on 14 February 2000. Programming produced by the University of Salford continued to be broadcast on the station until shortly before its closure. Featured programming included Reel North (short films), Zeitgeist (arts magazine) Grey Matters (studio debate), Hitting Home (documentary) and Wildtrack (wildlife documentary), four of which won a total of nine Royal Television Society awards.
Guardian Media Group outputEdit
From 2004 until July 2009, the station's flagship programme was the 5pm weeknight edition of Channel M News (produced in conjunction with the Manchester Evening News), which later expanded to include breakfast, lunchtime and late evening bulletins as well as a weekly review programme and occasional live specials.
Up until May 2009, GMG also produced highly acclaimed entertainment output including the weekly entertainment round-up City Life, the comedy talk-show Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show and regular music coverage. Programming such as the weekly music show City Life Social and video/computer game review series Re:Loaded helped Channel M to gain interest nationally.
City Life Social, The Great Northern Music Show and In Session were Channel M's main music programmes, often presented by Gerry McLaughlin with Clint Boon as a stand-in host. These programmes usually featured live, acoustic or unplugged studio and outside broadcast performances from alternative and indie bands.
Former BBC Radio Manchester host, Granada presenter and Factory Records boss Tony Wilson was due to present a Friday evening music and entertainment show called The New Friday, produced by former Granada producer and BBC Radio Manchester host Eamonn O'Neill. However, this programme was postponed after Wilson became terminally ill with cancer. Wilson died in August 2007 and the plans for The New Friday were soon abandoned.
City Life Social (previously City Centre Social) then became the station's flagship music show, as Channel M shifted towards a greater focus on live performances within programmes. This policy continued until the music department ceased production in May 2009, shortly after the station announced severe cutbacks in staff and programming.
Channel M's extremely localised audience was unusual for a British television channel, providing an opportunity for local advertising on a Greater Manchester-wide scale.
The majority of the commercials shown on Channel M were produced in house by the commercial producers. The commercials attempted to attract a localised audience. Large companies like IKEA and DFS also advertised on Channel M, the former during the opening of Greater Manchester's first IKEA store in Ashton-under-Lyne. The channel itself also filmed, edited and produced commercials.
The channel was originally based at smaller studios in the Triangle shopping mall and the later at the Printworks entertainment complex in Manchester city centre, until Channel M moved to the former Urbis museum in August 2005.
Channel M News was previously pre-recorded until live bulletins were first broadcast in May 2006. The studio's position on the ground floor of Urbis in Manchester city centre gave a live elevated background shot of the area around Cathedral Gardens and Manchester Victoria railway station.
The station's production team were based at the offices of the Stockport Express before moving to Urbis in March 2006. In November 2007, Channel M's news team moved again to the MEN Media headquarters at Spinningfields, which was used as a secondary studio base for some news bulletins.
The station later moved its in-house transmission and administration facilities from Urbis to GMG Radio's headquarters at Laser House in Salford Quays. Studio content produced by Salford University was originally produced at the Adelphi Building in Peru Street, Salford, but later moved to new facilities at MediaCity:UK in Salford Quays.
On 27 April 2009, Channel M's then-chief executive Mark Dodson announced that the station was looking to make 41 redundancies from its 74 staff and restrict weekday live programming from four programmes (totalling six hours of output) to one three-hour news magazine programme, broadcast between 4pm and 7pm, in order to cut losses. The new live programme, Channel M Today launched on Monday 13 July 2009. A company review carried out by the Guardian Media Group before the announcement recommended that the station should focus on news and general sport programming.
The cutbacks also affected the station's three-hour breakfast programme Channel M Breakfast, which had been airing on weekdays since 16 April 2007. Other programmes to be axed included Style in the City, City Life, and The Great Manchester Football Show. Channel M also axed all of its stand-alone entertainment, sport and features programming as well as the weekday breakfast show (which was, for a short time, replaced by live footage of the area's traffic cameras accompanied by a simulcast of Real Radio North West) and the lunchtime & evening news bulletins. News and sport coverage was incorporated into Channel M Today. which launched on Monday 13 July 2009, broadcast on weekdays between 4pm & 7pm and presented by chief news anchor Andy Crane alongside a rotating team of sports and features presenters.
In February 2010, the station's owners Guardian Media Group were reported to be in talks with staff regarding options for Channel M's future after the company sold off 32 of its regional newspaper titles, including the Manchester Evening News, to Trinity Mirror for £44.8 million. and a month later, the station announced its remaining in-house regional programmes, including the flagship magazine show Channel M Today, would cease production by Friday 19 March 2010. 29 of the station's 33 staff were made redundant. Several ex-GMG employees have since secured consultancy positions working on Salford University productions produced at the IMC. The station then broadcast a mix of archived programming, original output from Salford University and simulcasts of Euronews and Real Radio North West  alongside some new programming from independent and third party producers. The station's in-house transmission and administration facilities were latterly based at Laser House in Salford Quays and managed by GMG's regional radio division.
By the start of 2012, all remaining local programming had ended, resulting in a schedule consisting of simulcasts of Real Radio North West and Euronews and acquired programming from The Community Channel.
On 16 April 2012, GMG Radio announced its decision to close Channel M after 12 years of broadcasting. The station's owners said UK government plans for localised television services would not allow the station to run a commercially viable service in the future. The channel ceased broadcasting on Freeview the same day, leading to three redundancies.
Programmes produced by CHUM TV included:
Royal Television Society (North West) AwardsEdit
Channel M programmes were short-listed for RTS North West Awards on numerous occasions since 2001 and won a total of eight times - once for GMG-produced output (Andy Crane) and seven times for the University of Salford. In addition to programme awards, the station's website won the RTS Best Online award in 2008.
- Hitting Home: Final Clearance - Best Cable, Satellite or RSL programme (2001); University of Salford for Channel M
- Channel M - Best Newcomers (2005) (The RTS were 'unable to split' the three nominations for the award - GMG reporter Laura Fogg, Salford University presenter Gerry McLaughlin and the production team for Reel North - so instead the Society presented a generic award to Channel M. Effectively, all three nominations lost out on an award, even though they all came joint-first).
- Hitting Home: Displaced - Best Regional Programme (2005); University of Salford for Channel M
- Reel North - Best Regional Programme (2006); University of Salford for Channel M
- Nigel Hoar & Angela Byrne - Best Newcomers (2008); University of Salford for Channel M
- Zeitgeist - Best Low Budget Programme (2009); University of Salford for Channel M
- Andy Crane - Best Regional Presenter (2009); Guardian Media Group
- Wildtrack - Best Low Budget Programme (2011); University of Salford for Channel M
- Dowling, Nicola (18 May 2004). "Channel M tunes into future". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. Archived from the original on 12 November 2012.
- Channel M to launch on Sky, Media Week, 4 August 2005
- Channel M to leave SKY platform next month Archived 29 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine, How Do, 27 August 2010
- Channel M to move to Salford and plans new productions Archived 24 March 2010 at Archive.today, How Do, 19 March 2010
- Brook, Stephen (17 March 2010). "GMG to drop original programming and cut staff at Channel M". guardian.co.uk. London: Guardian News and Media.
- Axe falls on more than half of Channel M staff Archived 29 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Press Gazette, 27 April 2009
- MEN Media woes continue as half Channel M staff face axe Archived 30 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, How Do, 28 April 2009
- GMG to discuss 'range of options' for Channel M's future Archived 16 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Press Gazette, 10 February 2010
- "Greater Manchester's Channel M cuts staff to four". BBC News. 17 March 2010.
- Plunkett, John (16 April 2012). "Manchester's Channel M closes after 12 years". guardian.co.uk. London: Guardian News and Media.
- Manchester's Channel M axed, BroadcastNow, 16 April 2012