Richard Jones speaks to Maureen Staffer, announcer and presenter for TWW
30 Second Guide
Meridian Broadcasting, owned by MAI (later UNM, or United News and Media) and headed by Labour peer Lord (Clive) Hollick, won the franchise battle for the South and South-East of England ITV region in 1991 and took over from TVS on 1 January 1993, using the Northam (Southampton) and Vinters Park (Maidstone) studios purchased from the deposed TVS as well as opening a new news studio in Newbury.
Meridian was notable for being one of the first ITV franchises intending to use the same 'publisher broadcaster' model that had served Channel 4, notably commissioning the bulk of its output from independent producers such as Topical Television and Countrywide Productions, though Meridian did produce some programmes of its own. An initial flurry of networked productions followed such as Full Stretch and Harnessing Peacocks, but none of these proved to be successful and Meridian's contributions to the ITV network soon became minimal especially when compared to its predecessor.
In 1997 UNM (now known as United Business Media or UBM) acquired the Anglia and HTV franchises as well as becoming a main shareholder of Channel 5. Meridian and Anglia were sold to Granada in 2000 - nowadays the Meridian name is only used for regional news programming, with Meridian Tonight being the name of the early evening news programme (replacing TVS's Coast to Coast). Other notable programmes included the continuation of TV Weekly, Country Ways, Grass Roots and Hornblower.
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