The Programme Companies and the News Company

Stringent conditions are required by the Act and have been applied by the Authority in the appointment of programme companies. The conditions are in the main designed to ensure that the programmes provided by the companies comply with the requirements of the Act and that the companies are capable of producing a balanced output of programmes of high quality; that control of the companies remains within the United Kingdom and does not change without the Authority’s prior approval; that the companies have no connection with persons or companies engaged in advertising; that they are and remain completely independent of each other both as to finance and as to control; and that due regard is had to the particular character of the areas which the regional companies serve.

The first four companies to be appointed, Associated-Rediffusion, ABC Television, Associated TeleVision and Granada TV Network, divide between them the task of providing programmes for the three largest areas of London, the Midlands and the North. Associated-Rediffusion serves the London area from Monday to Friday; Associated TeleVision the same area at weekends and the Midlands from Monday to Friday. Granada TV Network serves the North on weekdays and ABC Television the North and the Midlands at weekends. The other eleven companies have smaller population coverages and are responsible for the full week’s programmes in their areas, as follows: Central Scotland (Scottish Television), South Wales and West of England (TWW), the South and South-East England (Southern Television), North-East England (Tyne Tees TeleVision), East Anglia (Anglia Television), Northern Ireland (Ulster Television), South-West England (Westward Television), The Borders (Border Television), North-East Scotland (Grampian Television), Channel Islands (Channel Television), West and North Wales (Wales (West and North) Television).

com-itnIn order to provide an effective service of national and international news, the four original programme companies were encouraged by the Authority to join together to form a non-profit-making “common service” organisation. This organisation, Independent Television News (ITN), now provides the main news bulletins and certain other topical programmes for the whole of Independent Television.

Programme Production

About 7,400 hours of television programmes were supplied by the Independent Television companies in 1961-1962 for transmission from the Authority’s stations. This represents nearly two-thirds of the total national television production of about 11,800 hours. The dominance of Independent Television in national television production is again reflected in the volume of local programmes. During the same period, Independent Television produced about four-fifths of all the programmes of local interest for local use -about 3,800 hours out of the national television broadcasting total of 4,800 hours. And while the BBC produced outside London about 33 per cent of its total output, Independent Television produced about 60 per cent. These Independent Television programmes came from thirteen independent companies, now increased to fifteen.

Because of their size, access to talent and general productive resources, the four companies in London, the Midlands and the North are the sources of many of the programmes which the other eleven companies use in addition to their own local programmes. However, the programmes produced by the other eleven companies, mainly programmes of local appeal, would be ample, in terms of the volume of production, to provide seven days of television a week without the use of any London, Midland or Northern programmes.

So it comes about that the average viewer of Independent Television programmes in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the smaller English regions sees programmes from at least five independent sources – from his own programme company, from Associated-Rediffusion, from Associated TeleVision, from Granada TV Network, and from ABC Television – as well as the national news bulletins and other programmes from Independent Television News. In much the greater part of the country in terms of population, he sees about as many hours produced by his local company as by any other single company.