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Its programming is similar to that of FX and Sundance TV, which includes contemporary off-network syndicated reruns and original series, feature films, and made-for-TV original movies.
Since the network was launched in April 1977, it has undergone various changes to its programming format and naming under its four different owners; the network was founded as the CBN Satellite Service, an extension of televangelist Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network.
In 1997, after International Family Entertainment put The Family Channel up for sale, News Corporation made an offer to acquire the channel.
Disney-ABC developed a programming strategy to turn ABC Family into a "broad-appeal programming network with its own identity", picking up same-season encores of ABC series such as Alias, Less Than Perfect, and Life with Bonnie; adding a weeknight sitcom block; and continuing to emphasize movies – having already reached a ten-year agreement for the cable rights to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.When Fox Family Worldwide bought the channel, the management team assigned to the network (headed by newly appointed president and chief executive officer Rich Cronin) sought to re-program it towards a new dual audience – kids in daytime, families at night.Notable programs aired during this era included S Club 7 in Miami—a sitcom serving as a starring vehicle for the eponymous British pop group, and Big Wolf on Campus.The sale gave Disney control of the Fox Family Channel, the Saban Entertainment library and the international Fox Kids cable networks controlled by Fox Family Worldwide, among other assets.Analysts felt that Disney's purchase of Fox Family Worldwide was influenced by the ongoing consolidation occurring in the media industry, such as the then-recently completed merger of AOL and Time Warner, and a desire to acquire a new television outlet that had heavy viewer penetration – at the time of the purchase, the network was seen in 83 million homes.