2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Media; Television

ITV (Independent Television)
Launched September 22, 1955
Owned by ITV Network Limited
(consisting of
ITV plc,
SMG plc,
UTV Media plc,
Channel Television Ltd.)
Audience share 18.4%
(December 2007, )
Slogan "Get Ready" (1989)
"TV from the Heart" (1999)
Country United Kingdom
Analogue Normally tuned to 3 (Not in Whitehaven and Copeland)
Freeview Channel 3
Sky Digital Channel 103
SES Astra Channel 13
Virgin Media Channel 103
Tiscali TV Channel 3
UPC Ireland Channel 110 ( UTV)
Internet Television Any Page ( ITV London)

Independent Television (generally known as ITV, but also as ITV Network) is a public service network of British commercial television broadcasters, set up under the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to provide competition to the BBC. ITV is the oldest commercial television network in the UK. Since 1990 and the Broadcasting Act 1990, its legal name has been Channel 3, the number 3 having no real meaning other than to distinguish it from BBC One, BBC Two and Channel 4 - prior to this, the network had no legal overall name. In part, 3 was assigned as televisions would usually be tuned so that the regional ITV station would be on the third button, the other stations being allocated to that of the number their name contained.

ITV is to be distinguished from ITV plc, the company that resulted from the merger of Granada plc and Carlton Communications in 2004 and which owns all of the Channel 3 broadcasting licences in England, Wales, the Scottish/English Border and the Isle of Man. Similarly ITV1 is the brand used by ITV plc for the Channel 3 service in these areas.


Unlike practically all other TV channels in the United Kingdom, ITV is not owned by one single company, although it has come close in recent years. Ofcom licences fifteen companies to provide regional Channel 3 services in various areas of the UK, with a separate franchise for the national breakfast service between 6:00am and 9:25am, and two franchises for London, for a weekday service and a weekend service. The licences were last put out to full tender in 1991, since then they have been renewed on a rolling basis.

In addition to ITV plc as mentioned above, central and northern Scotland are served by SMG plc, the owner of the two franchises completely within Scotland, (branded as STV), Northern Ireland is served by UTV, under that name, whilst the Channel Islands are served by Channel Television, Ltd., also under the name ITV1. In the Republic of Ireland ITV plc formally had a 45% share in the television station TV3, which shows many ITV shows such as X-Factor and Hells Kitchen. This was sold in 2007, but the programming supply agreement continues. UTV is also available in the vast majority of homes in the country in any case.

Additionally, Channel 3 has since 1983 included a national breakfast franchise, currently held by GMTV, and has a national contractual teletext provider.

National teletext provider

The Public Teletext Licence allows the holder to broadcast a text-based information service around the clock on Channel 3 (as well as Channel 4 and S4C) frequencies. Teletext on ITV had been provided since 1974 by ORACLE, and since 1993 is provided by Teletext Ltd., whose news, sport and TV listings pages rival that of the BBC's television offering, Ceefax. Teletext Ltd. also provides digital teletext for the Channel 3 services, as well as the text output for both Channel 4 and S4C (which is covered under the same licence) and Five (under a separate licence).

Digital Channel 3

Since 1998, each of the Channel 3 franchises have received gifted capacity on digital terrestrial television (DTT). As per the original agreement, each regional ITV contractor broadcasts its Channel 3 service from 9:25am to 6:00am daily, with the breakfast operator broadcasting in the remaining hours. However, unlike analogue broadcasts, the assigned capacity across DTT is able to carry multiple television services which, like Channel 3, are broadcast by the regional franchisee between the hours of 9:25am and 6:00am, with the breakfast contractor operating between 6:00am and 9:25am.

At present, all franchisees opt to broadcast ITV plc-owned channels, being ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and the CITV Channel, as opposed to broadcasting their own. Up until 2002, UTV in Northern Ireland ran a service known as UTV2, while both Scottish and Grampian ran S2. The breakfast operator, currently GMTV, is obliged to broadcast between the hours of 6:00 and 9:25am daily. Alongside the Channel 3 GMTV service, GMTV also broadcasts GMTV2, which is broadcast on the same capacity as ITV2 and the CITV Channel. The company also holds a third GMTV3 licence however it currently sells this gifted capacity to ITV plc to broadcast ITV3 24 hours a day. ITV is available all across the UK and is also available in the Rep. of Ireland on free to air and Digital satellite.

Channel 3 shares its space with Channel 4 on Multiplex 2, known as Digital 3&4.

Public service broadcasting

The right granted by Ofcom of Channel 3's nationally-available status on both analogue and digital television comes with responsibility, in the form of public service broadcasting. Alongside the BBC, Channel 4 and Five, the members of the ITV Network and GMTV all have a responsibility to broadcast various programming of public importance on their analogue stations. This includes quotas for news, current affairs, independent and European programming, children's and religious programming, and output containing subtitles, signing and audio description. In addition, Channel 3 stations are legally obliged to screen party election broadcasts on behalf of all the major political parties, and also other political events such as the Budget.

All the companies holding a franchise are members of ITV Network Limited (formerly the Independent Television Companies' Association Limited), a not-for-profit body. It is this body that commissions programmes for the network, and schedules the network programming. However, in practice ITV plc, which owns eleven of the fifteen licences, dominates the system.

Much of the originated networked programme output (around 54%, but up to 65% according to some reports) is contributed by ITV Productions, the production arm of ITV plc (consisting of the consolidated regional companies' network production departments), although a growing number of programmes are commissioned by the Network from independents (a minimum of 25% of total output, as stipulated by the 1990 Broadcasting Act). In addition, the entire network is obliged to broadcast national news sourced by a common contractor (currently ITN). All stations have the right to opt out of national programming (except for the national news) but generally do not, since most are owned by the one company and the others have limited resources for non-networked productions.

Franchise Details

The table below lists current franchises and the franchise holder.

Franchise Area Franchise holder Franchise held since Parent Company On-air name
Regional Franchises
Northern Scotland STV North Ltd Formerly Grampian Television Since 1961 SMG plc STV
Central Scotland STV Central Ltd Formerly Scottish Television Since 1957 SMG plc STV
Northern Ireland UTV Media 1959 UTV Media UTV1
The Channel Islands Channel Television 1962 Yattendon Investment Trust ITV1 Channel Television2
English-Scottish border and Isle of Man Border Television 1961 ITV plc ITV1 Border2
North East England Tyne Tees Television 1958 ITV plc ITV1 Tyne Tees2
Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Norfolk Yorkshire Television 1968 ITV plc ITV1 Yorkshire2
North West England Granada Television 19563 ITV plc ITV1 Granada2
Wales and the West of England HTV 1968 ITV plc ITV1 Wales1/
ITV1 West2
The Midlands Central Independent Television 1982 ITV plc ITV1 Central2/
ITV Thames Valley2
East of England Anglia Television 1959 ITV plc ITV1 Anglia2
London Weekday Carlton Television 1993 ITV plc ITV London (Weekdays)2
London Weekend London Weekend Television 1968 ITV plc ITV London (Weekends)2
South and South East England Meridian Broadcasting 1993 ITV plc ITV1 Meridian2/
ITV1 Thames Valley2
South West England Westcountry Television 1993 ITV plc ITV1 Westcountry2
National Franchises
National teletext service Teletext Ltd. 1993 DMGT Teletext
National breakfast time GMTV Ltd 1993 ITV plc (75%)/
The Walt Disney Company (25%)

1. ITV1 Branding is used overnight
2. Branding is usually just "ITV1"
3. Prior to 1968 Granada Television's franchise included most of what is now Yorkshire Television's franchise area and operated a weekday only contract
4. Also uses CITV branding for children's output at the weekend and on digital services


Independent Television was created following the Television Act 1954. The Independent Television Authority was set up to control and review the network. In the three main areas – London, the Midlands and the North of England – ITV was launched in September 1955, February 1956 and May 1956 respectively. The shape of the ITV Network and the course it has taken down the years has largely been controlled by regular refranchising rounds which occurred in 1964, 1968, 1974, 1982, and 1993. These rounds saw regions and franchise areas reshaped and franchise holders changed. Additionally, since the Broadcasting Act 1990 the consolidation of ITV companies has also had an important bearing on the direction of the network.

ITV, like many other broadcasting companies in Britain, has had their fair share of troubles over the years. Most notably, the 10-week labor strike and subsequent shutdown of all ITV broadcasts and productions. Viewers were greeted with black television screens on the morning of August 10, 1979, and were left without regular morning chat shows, and, most importantly, the highly-rated British soap opera, Coronation Street, as well as various televised sporting events. The strike ended, and programming resumed on October 24, 1979. Most of the nation learned through rival BBC that programming had resumed over on ITV. When viewers switched over, they were greeted with the new jingle, "Welcome home to ITV" as sung by the Mike Sammes Singers. Ultimately, the strike would be known as the longest strike in television history, to date.

When the strike ended, ITV had the daunting task of luring back viewers from BBC. This proved difficult as production of original programming had yet to occur, and wouldn't even be available for several months. ITV's solution was to air episode after episode of 3-2-1, which lead to ITV being continuously hammered in the ratings by BBC. Two and a half months after ITV began broadcasting again, they were finally ready to air additional original programming, and viewers quietly began switching back. Fortunately, this strike was to be the last major strike for ITV, even though minor disputes plagued the television industry in the 80s, mostly impacting BBC.


With more channels to choose from, digital television is increasingly putting pressure on the ITV network's ratings and advertising revenues. This has led a number of requests by franchisees to reduce the networks public service commitments. For example, most recently, ITV has shown interest in reducing its children's output. Critics of the broadcaster have also pointed to the reduction in commitment to regional programming and presentation.

Perhaps the most controversial change was the scrapping of the flagship late evening news programme, News at Ten in 1999, replacing it with a later, irregular scheduled and shorter news bulletin. ITV argued that the move would enable it to make the evening schedule more diverse and flexible, allowing them to show feature length films without a news break.

Such actions on the part of ITV together with a move to more populist programming has led to many commentators to accuse ITV of ' dumbing down'. In its defence, ITV does continue to show its major strengths in the fields of sports coverage and drama productions, and the production of 'high-brow' programming such as The South Bank Show has continued. However its' long-standing commitment to strong current affairs programming has diminished with the ending of productions such as World In Action ( Granada), This Week ( Rediffusion/ Thames), First Tuesday ( Yorkshire Television) and Weekend World ( LWT) and their replacement with populist shows such as Tonight.

The threat to "Channel 3" advertising revenues has also led franchisees to increasingly diversifiy their businesses. Most notably, ITV plc owns five additional digital-only television channels, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, CITV Channel and Men & Motors and also time-shift channels of ITV2 and 3. This diversification has also led to numerous notable failures such as ITV Digital in 2002, which was owned by ITV plc's predecessors Carlton and Granada.


For over 50 years of Independent Television, the homegrown programmes have become the most lovable and remembered as well as being extremely successful. Before the 1990s, nearly all of the content for the channel was produced by the fifteen franchise licensees: the regional companies.

However, in the last decade, and following legislation in the 1990 Broadcasting Act imposing a 25% quota for commissioning of independent productions, the number of programmes from independent production companies not connected to the traditional ITV Network, has increased rapidly. Notable examples include talkbackTHAMES (one half of which - Thames Television - was itself a former ITV franchisee), producers of The Bill and co-producers of The X Factor, and 2waytraffic, (previously Celador), producers of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Increasingly ITV's primetime schedules are dominated by its soap operas, such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and popular cop drama The Bill (produced by TalkbackThames). At the start of the 21st century, Independent Television were bashed by critics for including a vast amount of cheap reality programming into the schedule, namely shows like Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Wrestling.

Since then, ITV has struggled to regain viewers' trust, as many inexpensive programming has not paid dividends. When Michael Grade took over as Executive Chairman in January of this year, ITV have shown signs of recovery, especially in the programming department.


National and International

Since the network started Independent Television News Limited has held the contract to produce news for the ITV Network. News bulletins are broadcast at 5:30am, 1:30pm, 6:30pm, and 10:00pm.


The regional ITV companies provide local programmes tailored for the regional audiences. All the ITV companies provide a main local bulletin at 6pm (preceded in the UTV region, and soon, also on STV, by a more features-based programme at 5:30pm), as well as other local features and sport programming. Both news and regional programming for the ITV plc regions will be made available online during 2007 through the ITV Local VoD broadband initiative.


ITV covers many popular sports. The channel emphasises coverage of football (it holds the UK terrestrial rights to the UEFA Champions League). The channel shares coverage of international football events such as the World Cup with the BBC. It also covers Formula 1 racing and other motorsport, rugby, and other sports. The channel won the rights to broadcast The Boat Race in 2004.

On 30 March 2007, The Football Association confirmed that it had agreed a new four-year £425m television deal for ITV and Setanta Sports to show FA Cup and England international matches. This represents a 42% increase on the existing deal with the BBC and BSkyB.


The network broadcasts children's programming under the CITV (Children's ITV) strand. Children's programming is broadcast across the network on weekend mornings. In March 2006 ITV launched the CITV Channel, which is accessible by Sky, Virgin Media and Freeview, it shows all of the children's programmes weekdays between 6am and 6pm and at weekends 6am to 12.30pm.

Following the launch of CITV, children's programmes were removed from the ITV line-up, which was challenged by Ofcom in April. Fanbases of several action based cartoons have complained due to abrupt cancellations, with these shows being axed either at the end of a season, or halfway through a season, such as the CGI cartoon ReBoot, which was taken off air halfway through Series 3 in 1998 with 7 episodes left to air. They claimed back in 1997 they were not obliged to take all episodes, and they had taken the first 10 (Out of 16) episodes of that series. Only 9 of these were aired. Plus the first two episodes were never aired in the repeat of Episodes 1-6 (which were aied in summer 1997) of series 3, which were re aired before going into the rest of their episodes. Upon this cancellation, the Unnoficial ReBoot website stated that a fan spent months emailing both ITV and Meridian, whom in December 1998, stated they deemed the content of ReBoot unsuitable. Since then, they have aired all 26 episodes of Gerry Andersons New Captain Scarlet, which was much more dark and violent then ReBoot(Particularly in Captain Scarlet's second season.)

The future

On 12 September 2007, ITV announced a major five-year restructuring plan targeting entertainment as the corporation's top priority. A major overhaul of the regional structure of ITV was also proposed. The proposals would see consolidation of the ITV regional news programmes, with regions now broadcasting one service per region rather than multiple tailored local services (for example: ITV Yorkshire would no longer broadcast separate Northern and Southern regions). The proposed changes would also fully merge ITV Border with ITV Tyne Tees and ITV West with ITV Westcountry, effectively ending two regions' tenure as independent players within ITV. Any changes would be subject to full approval by Ofcom.

There would be a certain amount of expansion elsewhere — ITV currently produces around 54% of its programmes in-house and hopes to increase this figure to the maximum 75% allowed by the regulators over the coming years. ITV's plans also see the broadcaster diversifying across other platforms, including broadband video via and ITV Local, and an expansion of mobile phone services. The call-TV/PRTS based ITV Play service, however, was dropped after attracting significant negative publicity.

It is generally unknown if there will be any further franchise rounds held by Ofcom; the last was in 1993. Carlton Television (now part of ITV plc) had their license renewed without a contest in 2004, and UTV's expires on 31st December 2008. If there isn't a franchise round by 2009, it will be the longest ITV has gone with the same contractors.

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