There was a time when American Movie Classics used to show classic American movies, when The Learning Channel could teach you something, and when ABC Family broadcast family programming. Wired's Ruth Suehle has a look at six TV networks that have significantly changed their programming since their founding. The story of ABC Family, which used to be known as The Family Channel, is especially interesting:
Plan A was to use it for ABC re-runs. Too bad [ABC] didn't own the syndication rights to the stuff they wanted to show.
Plan B was an image makeover. They'd rename it XYZ (as in the opposite of ABC) and sell it to a younger, edgier audience. Too bad nobody read the contract that said the word "family" had to stay in the name forever.
Why? For that, we rewind to its beginning as Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network Satellite Service in 1979. That religious beginning followed the network through multiple sales, each of which has been required to continue broadcasting Robertson's The 700 Club, hence the reason that show is now bookended by the disclaimer, "The following/preceding CBN telecast does not reflect the views of ABC Family"as well as the network's slogan of the last few years, "A New Kind of Family."