Channel 5 started broadcasting to the nation (well most of it) at 6pm on March 30th 1997. The channel was dogged with problems before it even started. The terrestrial frequencies that had been allocated for the channel in most areas clashed with theose already used for video recorders. A massive retuning program started to make sure people could view the channel. Certain areas of the country couldnt recieve Channel 5 - one area, the south of England, will not receive the channel as it will interfere with French tv broadcasts.
A few weeks after the launch, Channel 5 started broadcasting free-to-air on the Astra satellite, so those with Sky boxes could recieve the channel. Channel 5 could basically be described as a terrestrial version of Sky One.
This leaflet from Channel 5 explains how to tune in
some Channel 5 marketing materials used prior to the launch...
Channel 5 Launch - Easter Sunday March 30th 1997
Some pages from the Radio Times...
Some pages from Channel 5's own magazine, available shortly after the launch