TV3 is Viasat Broadcasting's core brand, available in Scandinavia, the Baltic states and Hungary (as Viasat3). It's an entertainment brand the position of which may differ in the respective territories. In general TV3 is skewed towards female viewers. This version of the logotype is used in Hungary.
The launch of TV3 on New Year’s Eve 1987 in Sweden, Denmark and Norway is considered the origin of what today is the Modern Times Group. TV3 was the first TV channel outside the national public service broadcasting in Scandinavia, the first that was privately owned and the first to transmit advertising at a time when no advertising was allowed on TV channels in these countries.
It was made possible by the introduction of satellite TV and by broadcasting out of London, initially to cable TV networks and, from 1989, also direct-to-home (DTH).
The monopolies of the public broadcasters were broken, the media landscape changed immensely and the actions set forth by the entrepreneur Jan H. Stenbeck and his Industriförvaltnings AB Kinnevik, not just in broadcasting but also within telecommunications, created a system change of historical significance in Scandinavia.
When it came to TV3 Jan Stenbeck and Kinnevik had made an important investment a few years earlier. When the Luxembourg based Société Européene de Satellite (SES) had been formed on 1 March 1985, Kinnevik was one of the founding shareholders and as the largest private shareholder played a crucial role in building Europe’s first private satellite system.
Kinnevik also reserved two of the transponders and had what was needed for entering the TV sector – and eventually breaking the public broadcasters’ monopolies.
Jan Stenbeck planned to go ahead with the launch of the first commercial TV channel in Scandinavia. Delay and repeated postponements of the launch of the first SES satellite Astra 1A didn’t stop him. Through British Telecom, already privatised, it was possible to make an interim agreement with Intelsat for satellite capacity.
The weaker transmission on Intelsat could only be used for cable distribution – no launch of the direct-to-home (DTH) service would be possible. So when TV3 launched on New Year’s Eve 1987, it was as a cable TV channel, reaching only existing cable households.
The launch of TV3 caused more controversy in Norway than in Sweden and Denmark. The minister of culture stopped the broadcasting – utilising the Norwegian cable law – after two days when TV3 still only was available in smaller cable TV networks. On 11 January 1988 broadcasting was allowed to resume.
The launch of TV3 also became the seed that grew into an entirely new industry for Scandinavia – the commercial broadcasting sector which includes companies producing programmes and advertising, as well as subtitling and dubbing.
For the viewers it was the first sign of what was to come. The real wake up call came when TV3 acquired the rights for the World Championships in ice hockey in 1989. Ice hockey on that level – especially in Sweden – is of national importance. The acquisition showed a system configuration in television, with competition to purchase attractive programming, especially sports rights. The World Championships built TV3 – but also caused criticism from the many that had taken it for granted that they could see it on their public channel, as they had been used to.
During the first years TV3 was a pan-Scandinavian channel. On 30 September 1990 Denmark got its own TV3. Norway continued to share TV3 with Sweden until 1991 when that channel was also split. One TV3 channel had become three channels.
In 1996 a TV3 channel was also launched by MTG in Estonia, in 1997 another one in Lithuania and in 1998 in Latvia, and in 2000 in Hungary (Viasat3).
TV3 is available through Viasat’s and Canal Digital’s satellite TV platforms in Sweden and Norway, through Viasat’s satellite platforms in Denmark and the Baltic states, in the digital terrestrial networks in Sweden and Norway, and in the analogue terrestrial networks in the Baltic states. The channels are also distributed via IPTV and cable TV networks.
The first HD version of TV3 was launched in Sweden on 1 March 2011.