Independent Television Commission

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Independent Television Commission (logo 1991-2003).png

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) licensed and regulated commercial television services in the United Kingdom (except S4C in Wales) between 1 January 1991 and 28 December 2003.

In this context, 'independent' indicates freedom from the BBC, rather than the government, as the latter is taken as being read.

The ITC was formed by the Broadcasting Act 1990 to replace the television regulation functions of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (formed by the Sound Broadcasting Act, 1972) and Cable Authority. From 1 January 1991 it regulated the existing ITV network.

The 1990 Act also established the Channel Four Television Corporation to run Channel 4, regulated by the ITC. There was no fan-fare, as control was passed from Channel Four Television Company Limited.

The establishing Act required the auction of Channel 3 licences for the fifteen ITV regions and nationwide breakfast time. Most of the Channel 3 licences were awarded to the incumbent ITV companies; however there were some controversial decisions:

  • GMTV (changed to Good Morning Television as the bid name 'Sunrise Television' was already used by Sky News) outbid TV-am for the Breakfast television licence.

On 1 January 1993 these new arrangements came into force, and the ITC began its job of 'light touch regulation'. During this time, the ITC regulated the Channel 3 system as well as Channel 4. It issued licences to new satellite broadcasters and awarded the Channel 5 licence in the late 1990s. It also regulated cable TV.

In the early 2000s, the British government, in a White Paper, declared its intention to merge the ITC with the Radio Authority, Office of Telecommunications, and Radiocommunications Agency. This merger, under the Communications Act 2003, took effect on 29 December 2003. Most powers of the ITC are now exercised by the Office of Communications (Ofcom), making some powers – and the ITC itself – defunct. At this point, technical standards regulation, previously carried out in accordance with the IBA engineering "Code of Practice", seems to have disappeared from the regulatory landscape.

The ITC's co-regulators and origins[edit]

BBC Welsh Fourth Channel Authority Ofcom Radiocommunications Agency Home Office Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications General Post Office (United Kingdom) Ofcom Broadcasting Standards Commission Ofcom Cable Authority Ofcom Independent Broadcasting Authority Ofcom Independent Broadcasting Authority Ofcom Independent Broadcasting Authority Independent Television Authority Ofcom Radio Authority Independent Broadcasting Authority Arqiva Independent Broadcasting Authority Independent Television Authority Independent Local Radio

* Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications [1]

Alongside the ITC, two other independent bodies also dealt with complaints: the Broadcasting Complaints Commission dealt with injustices against individuals, whereas the Broadcasting Standards Council dealt with complaints about the moral content of programs, with no redress for individuals.

Historically, all of independent television (from 22 September 1955) and radio (from 8 October 1973) was governed by the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) – joined by the Cable Authority in 1984. On 1 July 1985, the Home Secretary asked the IBA to review prospects for commercial DBS.

In 1988, the Broadcasting Standards Council was set up to monitor 'taste and decency' on television. In 1990, large-scale changes brought about the Radio Authority, the privatization of the IBA's engineering division as NTL, and formation of the Independent Television Commission.

Since its formation, the BBC has been primarily responsible for its own governance - initially through the Corporation's Board of Governors and since 1 January 2007 through the BBC Trust.


Preceded by
Independent Broadcasting Authority
Regulation of ITV
1 January 1991–28 December 2003
Succeeded by
Ofcom
Preceded by
Independent Broadcasting Authority
Regulation of Channel 4
1 January 1991–28 December 2003
Succeeded by
Ofcom
Preceded by
Independent Broadcasting Authority
Regulation of Satellite Television
1 January 1991–28 December 2003
Succeeded by
Ofcom
Preceded by
Cable Authority
Regulation of Cable Television
1 January 1991–28 December 2003
Succeeded by
Ofcom

See also[edit]