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FX (1994)

"There Is No Box"

Type :  


FX (standing for Fox extended, suggesting "effects") is the name of a number of related pay television channels owned by News Corporation's Fox Entertainment Group. The FX logo is very similar to the logo of FOX only that it is black and doesn't contain an O.

The channel's most popular original shows are The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Damages, Rescue Me, Sons of Anarchy, Justified and American Horror Story, as well as the comedies It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Louie, The League, Wilfred and Archer. Aside from new episodes of its ongoing series, the channel mainly airs re-runs originally broadcast on Fox in the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2010, Sons of Anarchy attracted an average of 4.9 million viewers per week, making it FX's highest rated series ever, surpassing other hits The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me and Damages.


FX (then-stylized in print as "fX") was launched in the United States on June 1, 1994. Broadcasting from a large "apartment" in Manhattan's Flatiron District, fX was one of the first forays into large-scale interactive television. The channel centered around original programming, broadcast live every day from the "fX Apartment", and rebroadcasts of kitschy shows from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Nanny and the Professor, and The Green Hornet.

fX had two taglines: "TV Made Fresh Daily" and "The World's First Living Television Network". The "f" was lower-case to portray a type of relaxed friendliness. The stylized "X" represented the channel's roots: the crossing searchlights of the 20th Century Fox logo.

The live shows were mostly focused on one broad topic each. Shows included Personal fX , The Pet Department , Under Scrutiny with Jane Wallace , and Sound fX . The channel's flagship show, Breakfast Time , was formatted like an informal magazine show, and was an Americanized version of Great Britain's The Big Breakfast. Breakfast Time and Personal fX would regularly feature the channel's "roving reporters" visiting unique places around America live via satellite. Suzanne Whang , John Burke (now of E!) and Phil Keoghan (now of CBS's The Amazing Race) were some of the roving reporters. Other notable fX personalities included Karyn Bryant and Orlando Jones, who were panelists on "Sound fX."

The channel prided itself on its interactivity with viewers. fX, in 1994, was an early adopter of the internet, embracing e-mail and the World Wide Web as methods of feedback. Most of the shows would feature instant responses to e-mailed questions, and one show, Backchat , was exclusively devoted to responding to viewer mail, whether e-mailed or mailed traditionally. Select viewers were allowed to spend a day at the "apartment" and take part in all of the channel's shows. Inside the channel's syndicated programming blocks, channel hosts would frequently appear during commercial breaks to read e-mails from viewers about the episode airing, or to promote upcoming programming.

fX's viewer base was very loyal, but the budget was simply too high for the clearance the channel was receiving. Ironically, the first incarnation of fX was not even available on the local cable system in New York City, where programming originated. During the time the channel launched in the mid-1990s, cable systems around the United States were upgrading their infrastructures to increase channel capacity and were not regularly adding channels until these upgrades were complete. The same problem plagued Fox News Channel around its early 1996 launch.

The live shows gradually disappeared one by one until only Personal fX remained. Breakfast Time was moved to the Fox network and renamed Fox After Breakfast in mid-1996. It underwent several format changes and never found a substantial audience, thus it was canceled less than a year later. Eventually, all live programming with the exception of Personal fX was dropped and the channel focused entirely on its classic television shows until its relaunch in mid-1997. Personal fX remained on the refocused FX until May 1, 1998.

FX vacated the "apartment" in the summer of 1998 and the channel's operations were streamlined with the other Fox-owned cable channels.

fX was relaunched as "FX: Fox Gone Cable" in early 1997, targeting men aged 18 to 49. The channel became known for original drama series and NASCAR programming.

During the first few years after its relaunch, FX was known for little else than airing reruns of such Fox shows as The X-Files and Married... with Children, as well as 20th Century Fox shows such as M*A*S*H and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Soon after its relaunch, the tagline "Fox Gone Cable" was dropped. When the cable reruns of Ally McBeal and The Practice fumbled in primetime, FX predominantly ran movies in their more high-profile time periods.

After obtaining the spring broadcast rights to NASCAR, Fox Sports announced that for their inaugural 2001 season, FX would serve as their cable partner. This meant that FX would cover several races in the series then known as the Busch Series and Winston Cup (including the All-Star Race), as well as select qualifying and final practice sessions. The move was meant to promote the channel and cause NASCAR fans to contact their cable providers to add the channel to their line-up. In 2002, channel president Peter Liguori praised NASCAR for increasing the number of available homes from 58.5 million to 76.6 million.

FX aired numerous Major League Baseball games on Saturday nights in 2001, including Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final game at Camden Yards.

In recent years, however, the channel has emerged as a major force in original cable programming, gaining both acclaim and notoriety for edgy dramas. This began in 2002 with the release of its breakout hit, police drama The Shield. This trend continued the following year with Nip/Tuck, a drama about two plastic surgeons in Los Angeles , and the Denis Leary-helmed Rescue Me, about FDNY firemen and their lives post-9/11. Unlike many broadcast networks, FX is willing to take risks with their programming and push the envelope of what can be shown on television, having high, TV-MA ratings. Opinions on these shows are mixed. Some organizations, like the Parents Television Council and American Family Association, have asked advertisers to boycott these shows due to their graphic content. However, the shows are also critically acclaimed for their strong storylines and characters.

Capitalizing on the success of the hit documentary Super Size Me, creator Morgan Spurlock launched a new series, 30 Days, on FX in June 2005. The series puts its subjects in situations uncomfortable to them for 30 days, such as making millionaires work for minimum wage, and having Christians live in a Muslim community.

In the summer of 2005, FX debuted two new comedy series, Starved, about the daily lives of four friends with eating disorders who live in New York, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, about four people who own a bar in the titular city and somehow always wind up having comic misadventures, usually very politically incorrect. Both of these shows feature frank sexual dialogue and strong language, pitched as "The Dark Side of Comedy". While Starved gained low ratings and was derided by groups that sought to publicize eating disorders, being canceled after its first season, Sunny quickly became a critics' darling, consistently achieved high ratings and was picked up for a second season within days of its first season finale. An edited version of Sunny was aired by Fox for a three-episode run in the summer of 2006, in an effort to promote it on FX.

In 2006, FX debuted two new series, the reality television show Black. White. and the drama Thief but neither were picked up for a second season. After 2006, FX also no longer broadcast NASCAR, as sister channel Speed Channel became the new cable partner for NASCAR on Fox.

Throughout 2007, FX introduced three new dramas, Dirt starring Courteney Cox, The Riches starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, and Damages starring Glenn Close and Ted Danson. All three did well in the ratings and were renewed for second seasons.

On October 15, 2007 a high definition feed was launched on DirecTV and many U.S. cable systems.

As of 2008, the channel was available in 90.6 million U.S. homes.

In 2008, the channel launched a new branding campaign built around the theme There Is No Box, which was influenced by the phrase "outside the box" and refers to how the channel's programming goes beyond the box concept, as well as a pun on the channel competing against premium channels such as HBO, with its original programming. The channel's logo changed on December 18, 2007 and uses only the FX letters for branding by removing the klieg light logo box to the left. The new branding included an advertising campaign, featuring a post-game ad for the channel during Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XLII. The song that is used in the promo commercial is "You Give Me Something" by James Morrison.

Over 2008, competition with other cable channels increased, evident in the second season ratings for less successful series, Dirt and The Riches, which had ratings decrease significantly since their first seasons. Some weeks viewers were barely over 1 million. Both shows were cancelled by FX in 2008, and Dharma and Greg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Married... with Children and Fear Factor were also removed from the schedule.

In 2008, the channel picked up Sons of Anarchy, about a notorious outlaw motorcycle club bent on protecting their sheltered California town from corporate developers and drug dealers. It was created by The Shield executive producer, Kurt Sutter, and premiered in September, coinciding with The Shield's final season. The show was critically and commercially successful, and was renewed for a second season. Other new shows included the Kenny Hotz comedy Testees, which ran from October to December 2008, but was not renewed. Nip/Tuck and Damages began new seasons on the channel.

In August 2008, FX launched a new website, making full shows available to view online. As of January 2010, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Days, Sons of Anarchy, and The League are available for viewing through the official FX site.

In 2009, Spin City was removed from the schedule , while a sixth season order of 18 episodes was placed for Rescue Me, even though the fifth season had not premiered at the time.

Also in 2009, the channel placed a 13-show order for a new show created by Graham Yost. The Yost project is based on Elmore Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole." Set in Harlan County, Kentucky, it stars Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens—a tough, soft-spoken lawman with a rough side—and chronicles his cases and personal life, including unfinished business with an ex-wife and his aging father. Initially titled Fire in the Hole, the show was later announced to be titled Lawman before being renamed Justified. It started airing in March 2010. FX also picked up Terriers for its fall 2010 lineup and began airing Lights Out in 2011.

In July 2009, FX ordered three new comedy pilots. Archer is an animated series centering around a spy agency and comes from the co-creator of Frisky Dingo on Adult Swim. It was picked up for 10 episodes, premiering January 14, 2010. The League centers around a fantasy football league and comes from a Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm veteran. Louie stars popular stand-up comedian and writer Louis C.K. and "blend stand-up material with what Landgraf described as 'extended vignettes' depicting moments from comedian's offstage experiences." All three shows have been renewed for a second season. FX also purchased a pilot staring Elijah Wood based on the Australian comedy series Wilfred.

On October 1, 2010, FX pulled their channels from the Dish Network line-up due to a carriage dispute. FX was returned to Dish Network's channel line up on October 29, 2010 after Dish Network and FOX, FX's parent company, signed a long term contract. As of November 1, 2010, Fox programming had resumed on New York based cable provider, Cablevision.

On April 27, 2011, FX started showing UEFA Champions League games as part of a deal with Fox Sports. Starting in fall 2011, FX will broadcast college football games on Saturdays. FX will broadcast 13 games in 2011 as parts of Fox Sports contracts with the Big 12, Pac-12, and Conference USA conferences.

In January 2012, FX will begin broadcasting content from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

On October 14, 2011, FX announced that it picked up the rights to develop a series based on Scar Tissue, the biography of Red Hot Chili Peppers singer, Anthony Kiedis. HBO had originally picked up the series a few years before but eventually moved on from the project. Entourage producers, Marc Arams and Mike Benson will produce the series and Keids will also be involved as a co producer.

FX Movie Channel
On January 1, 2012, the Fox Movie Channel started airing a new daily block that aims to draw in a younger audience. The FX Movie Channel block airs from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. and will have programming from the movie library of the FX network.

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