History of ITV - 1993-2002


Following the changes laid out in the Broadcasting Act 1990, a franchise round was announced by the ITC in 1991 for licences beginning 1 January 1993. A number of companies bid for the licences including:

Franchise Incumbent and bid Competition and bid Results Winner
Borders Border Television £52,000 Solway Firth Television £0.25 unopposed Border (by default)
Central Scotland Scottish Television £2,000 unopposed unopposed Scottish (by default)
Channel Islands Channel Television £1,000 CI3 Group £102,000 CI3 Group disqualified on quality grounds Channel (by default)
East and West Midlands Central Independent Television £2,000 unopposed unopposed Central (by default)
East of England Anglia Television £17,800,000 CPV-TV £10,100,000; Three East £14,100,000 incumbent highest bidder Anglia (highest bidder)
London (weekdays) Thames Television £32,700,000 CPV-TV (£45,319,000); Carlton Television £43,200,000 CPV-TV bid highest but disqualified on quality grounds Carlton (highest qualified bidder)
London (weekends) London Weekend Television (LWT) £7,590,000 London Independent Broadcasting £35,400,000 London Independent Broadcasting disqualified on quality grounds London Weekend Television (by default)
North of Scotland Grampian Television £720,000 North of Scotland £2,710,000; C3 Caledonia £1,130,000 North of Scotland and C3 Caledonia both disqualified on quality grounds Grampian (by default)
North East England Tyne Tees Television £15,100,000 North East Television £5,010,000 incumbent highest bidder Tyne Tees (highest bidder)
North West England Granada Television £9,000,000 North West Television £35,000,000 North West disqualified on quality grounds Granada (by default)
Northern Ireland Ulster Television £1,010,000 TVNi £3,100,000; Lagan £2,710,000 TVNi disqualified for business plan. Lagan disqualified on quality grounds Ulster (by default)
South and South East Television South (TVS) £59,800,000 Meridian Broadcasting £36,500,000; CPV-TV £22,100,000; Carlton £18,100,100 TVS disqualified for business plan. Meridian (highest qualified bidder)
South West Television South West (TSW) £16,100,000 Westcountry Broadcasting £7,820,000; Tele West £7,270,000 TSW disqualified for business plan. Westcountry (highest qualified bidder)
Wales and West of England HTV £20,500,000 Merlin £19,400,000; C3WW £18,300,000; C3W £17,800,000 incumbent highest bidder HTV (highest bidder)
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Yorkshire Television £37,700,000 Viking £30,100,000; White Rose £17,400,000 incumbent highest bidder Yorkshire (highest bidder)
Breakfast TV-am £14,100,000 Sunrise £34,600,000; Daybreak £33,200,000 Sunrise highest bidder Sunrise (highest bidder)

As a direct result of the franchise bid:

  • TSW lost the South West of England franchise to Westcountry Television.
  • Thames Television lost the London weekday franchise to Carlton Television. However, Thames continues to produce programmes for ITV and other channels, such as The Bill and most recently the successful reality television programmes Pop Idol and The X Factor
  • TVS lost the South of England franchise to Meridian Broadcasting.
  • TV-am lost the national breakfast television franchise to Sunrise Television, which changed its name to GMTV before launch due to a dispute with BSkyB over the name 'Sunrise'.
  • ORACLE lost the National Teletext franchise to Teletext Ltd.

All other existing ITV companies retained their regional franchises. Due to their bids being barred on business plan grounds and therefore deemed 'too high', TSW and TVS attempted to obtain a judicial review of the ITC's decisions, and of the wording of the 1990 Act. Accordingly, the ITC held off awarding the contract to Westcountry until the review was completed. As the contract with Meridian had already been agreed, the court felt unable to conduct a review of that decision. The review of the south-west franchise process took several months, but was decided in favour of the ITC.

The relaxation in the franchise ownership rules, as a result of the 1990 Act, meant that mergers between ITV companies were now possible; this was further enhanced by the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1996, which relaxed the rules even further. As a result, companies began to take each other over to increase efficiencies and to expand.

In 1992, Yorkshire and Tyne Tees re-merged, creating Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television plc. The two companies were permitted to merge before their existing arrangements expired in June 1992, due to the marginal nature of both companies' finances, and a need to rationalize the two companies before the franchise handover date. More takeovers ensued in 1994 with Carlton taking over Central after having had a stake in the company for a long time, Granada buying LWT in a hostile bid and MAI, owners of Meridian Broadcasting, taking over Anglia Television. As a result of the latter, Anglia's presentation and playout facilities were moved to Meridian's base in Southampton. In 1996 Carlton bought Westcountry Television and increased their stake in Central to 81%. The following year in 1997 saw a number of large takeovers; Granada acquired Yorkshire–Tyne Tees Television plc and moved the presentation and playout of Granada, Yorkshire and Tyne Tees to The Leeds Studios. Scottish Media Group (SMG), who owned Scottish Television, acquired Grampian Television and began to consolidate staff at their studio base in Glasgow. Also, United News and Media, the evolution of MAI and owner of Meridian and Anglia, purchased HTV, however few departments were consolidated.

By 1999, four groups owned the majority of the ITV franchises, with UTV, Channel Television and Border Television remaining independent; Granada, Carlton, United News and Media (UNM) and the Scottish Media Group (SMG). From here, the companies further consolidated their channels. In 1999 a new on-air look was introduced and adopted by Channel and the UNM and Granada regions. This look reduced regional identity to a design at the conclusion of the ident: the majority of the ident was generic to all the stations. The same year, Carlton dropped the Central and Westcountry names from their on-air presentation, instead branding these regions as Carlton, and using the same presentation for all three regions. However the acquisition continued when in 2000 UNM was bought by Granada. As a result, Granada acquired Anglia, Meridian and HTV but had to sell the broadcasting arm of HTV to Carlton to comply with the then-current regulatory requirements. The following year in 2001, Granada acquired Border Television from Capital Radio Group and moved presentation and play out facilities to Leeds.

In addition to franchise mergers, in 1998 the Independent Television Association and Network Centre formally merged, becoming "ITV Network Limited". At the same time, a new lower-case ITV network logo was introduced at the same time for use around the network. The new logo design was meant to appear friendlier to the viewer.

Throughout this period, the ITV companies sought to expand into the new, multi-channel environment forming in the UK. The big companies sought this first: In 1996 Granada launched four channels through a partnership between Granada and BSkyB entitled Granada Sky Broadcasting. These four channels, Granada Plus, Granada Good Life, Granada Men & Motors and Granada Talk TV focused on repeated entertainment programming from the archives of the Granada channels, women's lifestyle programming, programming for men and televised nteractive debating respectively. The latter channel closed down after only 10 months on air following low viewer figures, while sister channel Granada Good Life re-branded to Granada Breeze in 1998. Also in 1996, Carlton launched Carlton Food Network, a cookery channel, and Scottish entered into a deal with BSkyB to launch a satellite channel Sky Scottish, from which the company could broadcast repeats of Scottish programmes and air additional Scottish sport; the latter channel closed within 18 months due to low viewership. Carlton however expanded their channels, launching Carlton Select in February 1997 with Carlton Cinema, Carlton Kids and Carlton World launching in November 1998. However, all but Carlton Cinema closed shortly into the new millennium, mainly due to low viewership and cost cutting in light of the cost of funding ON Digital.

Despite these larger companies having launched their own services a few years previously, Granada, Carlton and United News & Media collaborated to launch a new service in 1998: ITV2. The new channel expanded network ITV programmes and launched on multiple services, giving additional appeal to the style of ITV itself in light of new competition from channels operating on satellite, cable and more recently Digital Terrestrial Television. However, ITV2 only launched in the regions part of the original deal, leaving Channel, UTV, Scottish and Grampian to use the multiplex space in their region to whatever purpose they saw fit. As a result, SMG launched their own channel, S2 and UTV launched UTV2, both offering similar programming tailored for their region. By 2002 however, both channels had ceased and were replaced by ITV2 itself.

In 2000, ITN, the news producer for the ITV Network, launched the ITN News Channel which provided rolling news on cable, satellite and digital terrestrial. Following the increase in ITV branded channels and services, including ITV2 and ITV Digital, the decision was taken by Carlton and Granada to rename the ITV Network in their regions as ITV1.

Another venture initiated by Carlton and Granada was jointly bidding for the newly created Digital Terrestrial Television licence. The companies jointly bid with BSkyB for the licence under the company name British Digital Broadcasting and won, however BSkyB was forced to withdraw following competition laws. The two remaining companies launched the service in 1998 as ON Digital, and ran the service that housed other free to air channels. Following the launch of Sky Digital later that same year and following a heavy promotional campaign by Sky, which compared the Sky Digital service to ON Digital's service and always to Sky's benefit, the company started making heavy losses. In a resort to keep the venture afloat, the two companies used the name of ITV to boost the success of the company. The newly named ITV Digital launched in July 2001 complete with an expensive advertising campaign featuring Al and Monkey and an exclusive deal to air the Football League on the newly created ITV Sport Channel. However, the venture was still not bringing the results required and ITV Digital went into administration in March 2002, with the ITV Sports Channel closing two months later. This led to criticism of Carlton and Granada from SMG, UTV and Channel who objected to the ITV name being reduced following the collapse of the service.

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