It was originally used to broadcast the London ITV signal on VHFBand III. When UHF broadcasting began, the nearby Crystal Palace transmitting station was used. VHF television was discontinued in 1985, and the Croydon transmitter was not used for regular TV broadcasting until 1997, when a new directional UHF antenna, designed to avoid interference with continental transmitters, was installed to carry the newly launched Channel 5 in the London area. It carried Channel 5's analogue signal, and the digital terrestrial signal is transmitted from Crystal Palace. Croydon also had reserve transmitters for ITV1 and Channel 4, but these were used only in the event of engineering works or a failure at Crystal Palace. Since the digital switchover in April 2012 no television has been broadcast from Croydon, but it is still used as a backup for Crystal Palace for the BBC A & B and Digital 3&4 multiplexes.
The site is also a maintenance base for transmitter teams and is used to house one of four Regional Operations Centres.
ITV franchises Associated-Rediffusion (weekdays) and Associated Television (weekends) began transmitting on VHF 9 on 22 September 1955, and were the first ITV services. The transmitter's power was originally 60 kW but after the new tower was built in 1962 this was increased to 400 kW. Thames Television and London Weekend Television took over the London franchise area in 1968. The VHF analogue service closed down, along with the rest of the UK, on 3 January 1985.
Channel 5 launched on 30 March 1997 with transmissions from Croydon and many other former VHF sites in the UK. Backup for ITV1 and Channel 4 was later added in case they were not available from Crystal Palace.