Televisão Independente (TVI) ("Independent Television") is Portugal's fourth terrestrial television channel, launched in 1993. It has been leading audience ratings since 2005. It competes directly with SIC and RTP1.
TVI was the second private Portuguese TV channel to be launched, SIC having been launched five months before, and the fourth channel in all. Already under the name TVI, but marketed as 4, in which the '4' was the sole element in its logo, TVI was initially owned by some prominent Catholic Church institutions, including Rádio Renascença, RFM, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Público, Editorial Verbo and União das Misericórdias; Antena 3 Televisión (which consisted of La Vanguardia, ABC-Prensa Española, Manuel Martín Ferrand (4,3%), Rafael and Manuel Jiménez de Parga, Europa Press and Grupo Zeta), Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion, (CLR, under Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion, now RTL Group), Sonae, SBS Broadcasting Group, ITV contractor Yorkshire Television and many other media enterprises were minor stakeholders of TVI.
This majority-Catholic ownership pushed TVI's programming in the direction of Christian values. In the first years of its existence, TVI assumed the role of an 'alternative' television broadcaster, dedicating segments of its airtime to distinct target audiences, with part of the morning dedicated to housewives and the elderly and part of the afternoon to the young. Broadcasts were initially experimental, before upgrading to regular status in October the same year.
During this period, TVI was known for its American series and movies, including X-Files and Baywatch, and most notably the Spanish show El gran Juego de la oca (translated as O Jogo do Ganso) imported from Antena 3. TVI also brought in some prominent names in Portuguese television, including Manuel Luís Goucha and Artur Albarran, but the viewing figures had been always lower than expected and it entered into a deep financial crisis.
TVI's recovery happened when it was acquired by Media Capital in 1999, one of the most important media conglomerates in Portugal, whereupon it started broadcasting more Portuguese-produced programs, including soap operas. This helped to increase its audience significantly, but it was in September 2000, when Big Brother started, that the channel gained a boost in popularity.
Now the most-watched station in the country, TVI is known for having a large number of national reality shows and soap operas. It broadcasts a mix of local productions, such as soap operas, family series and reality shows, news programs and international movies and series (mostly American). It is currently owned by Media Capital, which is owned by Grupo Prisa. Until February 2007, Media Capital was co-owned by RTL Group and Grupo Prisa. The station works with Media Capital-owned production company Plural Entertainment to produce its national fictional content.
Like public service broadcaster RTP and unlike commercial rival SIC, which have always shown foreign programs in the original language with subtitles, TVI tried, unsuccessfully, to dub foreign programs into Portuguese after achieving marginal success with Latin American Spanish-language soap operas dubbed in Brazilian Portuguese. Experiments of dubbing included the US series Dawson's Creek and other shows directed at younger audiences.