Associated Television

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This article is about the British commercial broadcaster. For the American production and distribution company, see Associated Television International. For other uses, see ATV.
Associated Television
ATV Network
ATV Midlands
Associated TeleVision.svg
Based in Elstree, London, Birmingham
Broadcast area London (weekends, 1955 to 1968)
Midlands (weekdays, 1956 to 1968; all week, 1968 to 1982)
First airdate September 24, 1955 in London
February 17, 1956 in the Midlands
All week in the Midlands from July 29, 1968
Closed July 28, 1968 (London)
January 1, 1982 (Midlands)
Replaced ABC in the Midlands on weekends from July 29, 1968
Replaced by London Weekend Television in London on weekends from August 2, 1968
Central Independent Television in the Midlands from January 1, 1982
Owned by Associated Communications Corporation

Associated Television (ATV), a former British television company, was awarded the franchise by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to provide the Independent Television service at weekends for the London region. This service started on Saturday, September 24, 1955 and was extended until Sunday, July 28, 1968. ATV was also awarded the franchise to provide the weekdays Independent Television service for the Midlands region. This service started on Friday, February 17, 1956 and was extended until Monday, July 29, 1968. Subsequent to the changes made by the ITA to the regional structure of the Independent Television service, ATV was awarded the franchise to provide a seven day Independent Television service for the Midlands region which started on Tuesday, July 30, 1968 and was finally extended until 00:34h on Friday, January 1, 1982.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The company was formed from the merger of the Associated Broadcasting Development Company (ABDC) under the control of Norman Collins, and the Incorporated Television Programme Company (ITC) under the control of Prince Littler and Lew Grade, two showbusiness agents. Lew Grade is famously attributed[who?] with having said that a broadcast licence was "a licence to print money", although it has also been attributed to Lord Thompson of Fleet.[1]

Both companies had applied for a contract to become one of the new ITV stations. ABDC won the contract but had insufficient money to operate it; ITC failed to win a contract, mainly due to a perceived conflicts of interest resulting from the business operations of Grade and Littler. By the time of the merger ABDC were well advanced with their plans whilst ITPC planned to operate as an independent producer selling their shows to the new network contractors.

When financial problems hit ABDC, the Independent Television Authority, the governing body of ITV, invited Grade and Littler to join the ABDC consortium. This provided the money required and put Littler and Grade in control of the new company, sidelining Collins.

The new company was originally named the Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC), but Associated British Corporation's parent company, which wished to call their station ABC and ran a large chain of cinemas under those initials, successfully sued for prior ownership of the name. After ABC had been operating for three weeks the name was changed to Associated TeleVision Ltd (ATV). The logo, designed for ABC and tweaked for ATV, was a "shadowed eye" inspired by the CBS logo and reputedly designed by Lew Grade on a transatlantic flight back from the US. The logo is one of the most recognisable in broadcasting.[2]

Broadcasting[edit]

ABC began broadcasting in its own right on Saturday 24 September 1955, after jointly presenting the network's opening night on Thursday September 22. The name ATV was first seen in London on Saturday October 8, 1955. The company won two contracts, the weekend contract for London and the Monday–Friday contract for the Midlands. The latter service opened on February 17, 1956, with ABC providing the weekend programmes.

The company ran into financial difficulty due to the staggering losses of the first two years of ITV and start-up costs. The London weekday contractor Associated-Rediffusion shouldered some of ATV's losses and further funding was achieved by selling shares to the Daily Mirror newspaper. The company structure was changed several times until 1966, when ATV and ITC both became subsidiaries of the Associated Communications Corporation (ACC), formed by turning the old structure on its head. This marked the point where Lew Grade advanced from being the greatest influence over the company to taking control.

ATV's main impact was in variety and light entertainment.

In the contract and region changes in 1968, ATV lost the weekend franchise in London to the London Television Consortium, later renamed London Weekend Television, but its Midlands contract was renewed and extended for the full seven days. At this point the company was renamed ATV Network Limited.

End of franchise[edit]

During the 1970s ATV received much criticism over its lack of local programming, particularly for the east of its region; such critics held that local shows had a Birmingham focus. In 1981 the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) decided that ATV's lack of regional programming and production (it had a major studio centre at Elstree in Hertfordshire, a legacy of its London contract, well outside its Midlands franchise) was hampering the region, so it insisted that the new applicant for the franchise be more clearly based in the region and have separate facilities for the East and West Midlands.

ATV Midlands Limited, a shell company created by ACC solely for the franchise process, applied successfully for the contract. As a condition of its award, ACC was forced to divest itself of 49% of the company, relinquish executive roles, sell its studios in Elstree and rename the company to demonstrate that it was effectively a new business.[3][4]

ATV stopped broadcasting at 00:34 on January 1, 1982. The final programme was an episode of the American sitcom The Two of Us (which the then-new South West ITV franchise holder TSW also broadcast during that time), and the final continuity announcer was Mike Prince. He delivered the New Year's weather forecast out-of-vision, then appeared in-vision with original ATV announcer Shaw Taylor. Taylor delivered a brief reminiscence of ATV, and wished Central the best of luck. After wishing the viewers a happy New Year, Prince (who became one of Central's original continuity announcers) invited viewers to listen to their local Independent Local Radio stations' New Year's programmes as the ATV clock was shown for the final time, then signed off from ATV with these words:

This was followed by the playing of a recording of the St. Chad's Cathedral organ playing God Save The Queen as the ATV clock counted down until the station's end. There was no reminder for viewers to switch off, and unplug, their television sets.[5] The new company's name was registered as Central Independent Television plc and the new logo, advertised as being a UFO, appeared nine hours later. Central inherited the studios at ATV Centre, Birmingham and ATV Elstree along with land that ATV Midlands had purchased for their new Nottingham studio centre. Central maintained control of ATV's news archive and regional programmes, plus programming already in production or being shown at the time of changeover; the rest of the ATV archive was sold by ACC.

ACC later divested itself of the remainder of Central after the Australian investor Robert Holmes à Court staged a boardroom coup and forced Grade to cede control.[6][7][8] ACC remained in control of ITC and Stoll-Moss Theatres until 1988 when The Bell Group, the owners of ITC were taken over by the Bond Corporation.[9][10][11] Subsequently the new owners starts asset stripping programme. In November 1988, ITC Entertainment was bought by its management.[12]

In January 1995 Polygram takeover ITC was sold to International Television, for $156M[13] with Grade returning as chairman for life, bring him back into control of ITC until his death in 1998. Carlton Communications spent much of the 1980s and 1990s buying up the intellectual property of the former ACC, including the rights to the ATV logo and company name, the ATV news archive (via its purchase of Central) and finally in early January 1999, the company bought ITC television and film library from PolyGram/Seagram for £91 million, which reunited the programme library of Associated Television and Central Television and doubled the stock of its library division Carlton International, by giving it a total of 15,000 hours of programming. Carlton chairman Michael Green said: 'The ITC library is a jewel in the crown. We can now unite it with the other gems from Britain's film and television heritage in our excellent library.'[14]

Recent changes have seen Granada plc merge with Carlton, and all of ATV's national archive programming has been taken into their ownership. The regional news archive from both ATV and Central, plus some regional programmes, are stored at the Media Archive for Central England at the University of Nottingham.

Studios[edit]

ATV's headquarters and main studios were at Elstree, London, with both Midlands and London divisions, where the majority of ATV's earlier programming was made and distributed.

ATV's studios in the Midlands were in Aston, Birmingham, jointly owned by ATV and ABC under the banner Alpha Television. They supplied both ATV and ABC, and supplemented production from Elstree. In readiness for colour television, a large 'state of the art' television studio was built by ATV, the ATV Centre and off Broad Street near the centre of Birmingham. This replaced the Aston studios, which were sold. The ATV Centre was in use until 1997 although two of the production studios had been 'mothballed' in the early 1990s as demand for production studios fell. As of June 2014 the complex has been partially demolished to be replaced by the upcoming Arena Central development, with the main studio building off Bridge Street standing derelict, pending the commencement of further demolition work. The Alpha Tower will remain as it is a listed building.

A documentary about the ATV Centre has been in production since early 2007. Entitled 'From ATVLand In Colour' (referring to the nickname used on Tiswas, and the building being purpose-built for colour broadcasting), the documentary features presenters, actors, announcers and behind-the-scenes staff talking about their time working there, and the programmes that were made there.[15] Contributors include Chris Tarrant, Shaw Taylor, Jane Rossington and Bob Carolgees. It was released by Mace - Media Archive for Central England on Monday 19 September 2011 [1]

In the 1981 franchise review, the IBA ordered that for ATV Midlands to keep the franchise the Elstree centre must be sold and a studio centre built in the east of the region. ATV Midlands, renamed Central Independent Television, needed an immediate start for separate East and West Midlands facilities. The new east site was at Lenton Lane, Nottingham, and the land had been bought while ATV was still in control. Planning issues delayed construction so Central purchased an independent production studio in the city (at Giltbrook) as its East Midlands newsroom. Industrial action prevented this centre from being used, with the new studios ready by the time it was resolved.

In 1983 the Elstree centre was sold to the BBC for around £7million[16] which is now home of the soap EastEnders.[17][18]

East Midlands Television Centre in Nottingham began operation in September 1983.[19] but was officially opened by H.R.H Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip in March 1984.[20] The studio was eventually sold in 2004 to the University of Nottingham as an independent facility and as the home of the Media Archive for Central England, where most of ATV's and Central's programmes are archived.

Identity[edit]

ATV's logo has always consisted of a shadowed eye, inspired supposedly from the logo of CBS. This shadowed eye with the letters ATV inside came to represent the company. The first ident featured a single eye shape, moving to reveal the shadowed eye, and animating so that each of the letters ATV animate in accompanied by one of the three musical notes on the ident score. The caption below read Associated TeleVision Ltd., the only time the station's full name was displayed in an ident. The shadowed eye however was out of proportion, attributed to the hurry to redraw the ident following the name change from ABC.[21][22][23][24][25]

Shortly after the launch of the Midlands franchise, the ident was again changed to an ident consisting of five stripes. Three of four vertical stripes contain the letters ATV, which animate in to the same musical score, with the other vertical stripe housing the logo and the stations airing times, either displaying both or those of the region being viewed in. the final stripe is horizontal, with the caption 'Presents' inside.[21][22][23][24][25]

The next ident, launched in 1959, featured the shadowed eye zooming into the screen, whilst the familiar letters animate in as in the previous versions. This was altered in 1964 to add either the region name below it, or the word 'Presents' if the programme was an outside broadcast.[21][22][23][24][25]

The company's most recognisable ident however is the one launched in 1969. Called Zoom 2, it was the ident that heralded colour to the region for the first time. Starting with three lightspots that combine to form six colours and the caption 'In Colour', the three lightspots fully merge forming a single cream dot which then animates out into the ATV shadowed eye, fully formed. The score for the ident featured brass, drums and vibraphone in a twelve beat fanfare for the station, by Jack Parnell and arranged by Wally Stott. In addition to this, a variation was produced which only featured a black and white version of the final animate into the shadowed eye for programmes still being shown in black and white. This ident was used from the introduction of colour in 1969 right until the ATV name ceased to be used in 1982.[21][22][23][24][25]

Names used[edit]

Company names:

  • Associated Broadcasting Company Limited (1954–1955)
  • Associated TeleVision Limited (1955–1964)
  • Associated TeleVision Corporation (1964–1966)
  • Associated Communications Corporation (1966–1982)—parent company
  • ATV Network Limited (1966–1982)
  • ATV Midlands Limited (1981) - This is the company that was renamed to Central Independent Television from 1 January 1982, and was the licence holder for the Channel 3 Midlands region service until November 2008, when the licence was transferred to ITV Broadcasting Limited.

On-air names:

  • Associated Broadcasting Company (September 24, 1955–October 2, 1955)
  • Associated TeleVision (October 8, 1955–February 11, 1956)
  • ATV London (February 18, 1956–July 28, 1968)
  • ATV Midlands (February 17, 1956–July 28, 1968 but referred to in continuity until 1981)
  • ATV Network (July 29, 1968–January 1, 1982) (always branded on-air as simply 'ATV')

Initials used:

  • ABC (24 September 1955–2 October 1955)
  • ATV (8 October 1955–1 January 1982)

Selected programmes[edit]

The majority of ITC programmes were first broadcast by ATV and distributed in the UK by them. Similarly, ATV's productions were distributed by ITC outside of the UK, with most ATV idents replaced with those for ITC.

Other Ventures[edit]

ATV Music[edit]

As a side note to ATV's television activities, the company also set up a music publishing division. This was known as ATV Music and existed initially to publish TV-related music, such as theme tunes, composed by its in-house composers. It was formed after ATV acquired a substantial share of Pye Records.[26] This company was eventually split away from the parent company and went through numerous different owners as well as buying into other established music publishers including Northern Songs, which was the Beatles' publishing company. ATV Music eventually settled into the hands of Michael Jackson before being merged into Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Teletronic: The ITV story". 22 January 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Associated TeleVision history at Independent Teleweb
  3. ^ Rogers, Jeremy. "ATV (Associated Television) History". Independent TeleWeb. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Southern and Westward TV lose franchises and others to be restructured.By Kenneth Gosling. The Times, Monday, 29 December 1980; pg. 1
  5. ^ ATV Closedown--Central Startup 1/1/82 at youtube.com
  6. ^ AUSTRALIA'S ACQUISITIVE RECLUSE
  7. ^ Grade is ousted in £37 m ACC takeoverBrown, MaggieThe Guardian (1959-2003); 15 January 1982;
  8. ^ IBA gives ACC go-aheadThe Guardian (1959-2003); 2 June 1982;
  9. ^ Holmes à Court announces reverse takeover at Bell.Richard Battley. The Times, Tuesday, March 01, 1988; pg. 27;
  10. ^ Bond plan to merge with Bell empire. Richard Battley. The Times, Saturday, July 02, 1988; pg. 25
  11. ^ Bell recommends Bond Corp offer.(Reuter). The Times (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1988; pg. 25
  12. ^ Bond's sale of ITC estimated at £60m. John Bell, City Editor. The Times, Thursday, November 10, 1988
  13. ^ PolyGram buys Itc for $156m. The Times, Wednesday, January 11, 1995; pg. 25
  14. ^ "Thunderbirds are going, going, gone". BBC News. 1999-01-19. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  15. ^ 'From ATVLand In Colour', a documentary about ATV and Central's Broad Street studios
  16. ^ BBC buys four studios at Elstree for £7m. By Kenneth Gosling.The Times, Wednesday, Oct 12, 1983; pg. 5;
  17. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/collections/buildings/elstree_studios.shtml
  18. ^ http://www.transdiffusion.org/tv/studioone/this_is_elstree_2
  19. ^ Buxton, Roddy. "A trip to Giltbrook". Studio One. Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  20. ^ Court Circular. The Times, Saturday,3 March 1984; pg10
  21. ^ a b c d Meldrum, Darren. "ATV". The Ident Zone. MHP. Retrieved 8 October 2011.  Contains images and RealMedia videos of some of ATV's idents.
  22. ^ a b c d Barnes, Steve. "ATV Idents". TVARK. Retrieved 8 October 2011.  Contains authentic videos of these idents.
  23. ^ a b c d Bernard, Marcus. "ATV London". TVARK. Retrieved 8 October 2011.  Contains authentic videos of these idents.
  24. ^ a b c d "ATV Idents and Clocks". TV Room. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  25. ^ a b c d Robertson, Jason. "Zooms and other great stuff". subTV. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  26. ^ Doyle, Jack (7 July 2009). "Michael & McCartney, 1990s-2009". The Pop History Dig. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010. Retrieved 13 Nov 2010. 

External links[edit]