Independent Television in the…
1950s 1970s 1980s 1990s

The Television Act 1954 was a British law which permitted the creation of the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom, ITV. It created the Independent Television Authority (ITA) which would closely regulate the new commercial channel in the interests of good taste, and award franchises to commercial companies for fixed terms.

Franchises awarded


  • Channel Islands: Channel Television
  • English-Scottish Border & the Isle of ManBorder Television
  • North East Scotland: Grampian Television

  • July 13: The Pilkington Committee was set up under the chairmanship of British industrialist Sir Harry Pilkington to consider the future of broadcasting, cable and “the possibility of television for public showing”.  The report was published in 1962, concluding that the British public did not want commercial radio broadcasting, and it offered criticism of the existing commercial television licensees.


  • West & North Wales: Wales Television Association (Teledu Cymru), transmitting as Wales (West and North) Television (WWN).

  • April 29: Westward Television began broadcasting in the South West of England.
  • September 1: Border Television began broadcasting in the England-Scotland border area and on the Isle of Man.
  • September 30Grampian Television began broadcasting in North East Scotland.


  • June 27The Pilkington Report was published, recommending the introduction of colour television licences and that Britain’s third national television channel (after the BBC Television Service and ITV) should be awarded to the BBC. BBC 2 was launched two years later. It also criticised the populism of ITV by attacking its American originated acquired programming such as Westerns and crime series.
  • September 1Channel Television began broadcasting in the Channel Islands.
  • September 14Wales (West and North) Television (WWN) began broadcasting in North and West Wales.


The then ITA chairman, Lord Hill of Luton, initiated a review of all the ITV companies following the release of the Pilkington Report, which saw the launch of BBC 2 and heavily criticised ITV. This review would review a company’s performance, and either grant them an extension to their service licence or replace the company with another in that region. The new licences also included clauses which took into account the promised ITV2 UHF channel, promised to be launched if the Conservative Party won the 1964 general election.

Despite the review, no company lost its position as the local ITV contractor for their region and all licences were extended for another three years (starting July 1964), although several of the major companies were instructed to strengthen the regional emphasis of their on-screen identities.


  • January: Despite effectively completing the ITV network in 1962 when WWN began broadcasting, the late commissioning of two of their three transmitters caused the company to only receive half of the projected income and folded.  WWN were acquired by TWW, who then provided services to the whole of Wales and the West of England.

1967 Franchise Review

June 12: Another franchise review was called by the ITA. Franchises were extended to 1976, then 1979, and finally December 31, 1981 and the review also led to the following changes to the regions:

  • The weekday/weekend split was abolished, except in London
    • The new seven-day franchise in the Midlands was awarded to Associated TeleVision (ATV)
    • The London weekday franchise was awarded to Thames Television (a merger of ABC and Associated-Rediffusion)
    • The London weekend franchise was awarded to London Weekend Television (LWT)
  • The North of England area was split between:
    • North West England: Granada Television
    • Three Ridings of Yorkshire: creating Yorkshire Television
  • TWW controversially lost its franchise for Wales & the West of England to Harlech Television (HTV)


  • March 4: TWW ceases to broadcast, replaced temporarily by the emergency service Independent Television Service for Wales and the West (ITSWW).
  • May 20Harlech Television began broadcasting in the Wales and West of England area.
  • July 28Associated TeleVision (ATV) began broadcasting in the Midlands seven days a week.
  • July 29: Yorkshire Television began broadcasting in most parts of Yorkshire.
  • July 30Thames Television began broadcasting in the Greater London area.
  • August 2London Weekend Television (LWT) began broadcasting in London at weekends from Friday 7pm.
  • August: The implementation of the ITV changes led to industrial unrest in the companies. Although there were no job losses in the system – this was an ITA stipulation – people were forced to move from Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds, from London to Cardiff and, perhaps less troublesome, from one part of London to another. Many staff stayed in the same jobs in the same locations, but now had a different employer. A mixture of strike action and management lock-outs had taken ITV off the air, and for most of August 1968 the regional network was replaced with an ITV Emergency National Service run by management. By September 1968, with both sides claiming victory, all workers had returned to work. However, memory of this strike would cause more industrial unrest in the decades that followed.


  • November 3: For the first time, an episode of Coronation Street was broadcast in colour.
  • November 15: Simultaneously with BBC 1, ITV introduced colour to its system. BBC 2 had already been broadcasting in colour for a couple of years.

History of ITV courtesy of Wikipedia

Independent Television in the…
1950s 1970s 1980s 1990s