Independent Television in the…
1950s 1960s 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.

The Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 gave the ITA responsibility for organising the new Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations. The ITA became the Independent Broadcasting Authority.


  • August-October: A holding company named Trident Television Ltd was set up solve the problem of fairly allocating commercial airtime from the Bilsdale, North Yorkshire transmitter owned by ITA. The transmitter straddled the catchment areas of both Tyne Tees Television and Yorkshire Television. The company would sell airtime in both regions but with each company retaining its identity and management.
  • November 13: Technicians at all ITV companies took industrial action in what was known as the Colour strike. Due to a pay dispute with their management, they refused to work with colour television equipment. The strike would last until February 8, 1971. Although Coronation Street had seen its first colour broadcast in November, 1969, some 1970/71 episodes were recorded in black and white. The last was shown on February 10, 1971.


  • July 12: Following the passing of the Sound Broadcasting Act 1972, the ITA became the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). They took on the same role as the ITA but were also were given responsibility of the then-new Independent Local Radio stations.


  • January 1: Trident Television Ltd performed a reverse takeover of both Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television. The resulting profits allowed the company to acquire the likes of Scarborough Zoo, Windsor Safari Park, and the Playboy Club.


  • March 28Yorkshire Television launched a six-week breakfast television experiment. Good Morning Calendar is credited as being the United Kingdom’s first breakfast television programme, six years before the launch of the BBC’s Breakfast Time. The programme ran concurrently with a similar ITV Tyne Tees programme, Good Morning North for North East viewers.
  • May 27: Both breakfast television pilots, Good Morning Calendar and Good Morning North ended after nine weeks.


In 1974, the BBC developed their teletext service, Ceefax. At around the same time, a consortium, backed by the IBA, began work on ITV’s own service “Optional Reception of Announcements by Coded Line Electronics”, or ORACLE. Due to the lack of available receivers, exact launch dates are obscure but they certainly began in 1978. However, receivers became popular around 1980.


ITV suffered a 10-week industrial dispute, leading to the subsequent shutdown of almost all ITV broadcasts and productions. It began at London’s Thames Television when electricians (EETPU members) refused to accept what they considered to be a derisory pay increase. Management attempted to operate a normal service but other transmission staff (ACTT members) refused to co-operate, pointing out that equipment and wiring turned on by non-EETPU members could be potentially dangerous. Thames management interpreted this as a walkout. When Thames’ management consequently ordered the striking staff to “return or else” the broadcasting union the ACTT instructed members at 13 other ITV stations to walk out in solidarity. The only company unaffected was Channel Television; the unions realised action there could force the station out of business as its audience was so small so made it vulnerable to the effects of market forces on advertising revenue, which would therefore act against the interests of a trade union’s purpose of maintaining employment for its members.

  • August 10: Viewers encountered blank television screens and were left without any programmes, such as soap opera Coronation Street as well as various sporting events. Only two ITV companies broadcast anything other than a specially-made apology caption during this time, those being Channel Television, who broadcast a time-restricted service of local programming, films and imported TV series (on film, as Channel had no videotape facilities at the time) and in the Yorkshire Television region, who interrupted their strike card to broadcast appeals on behalf of the West Yorkshire Police in their hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.
  • October 24: The strike ended with victory to the unions that cost the companies £100m in lost revenue. Programming resumed at 5:38pm with a new jingle, “Welcome home to ITV” sung by the Mike Sammes Singers. ITV now had the arduous task of trying to lure viewers back from the BBC.

History of ITV courtesy of Wikipedia

Independent Television in the…
1950s 1960s 1980s 1990s