Not the TVTimes 

29 September 2014

One of the often forgotten changes of the ITV franchise round in 1967/8 is that the Independent Television Authority took the opportunity to kill off nearly all the local listings magazines ITV companies produced.

When Independent Television began in 1955, it was obvious that the new channel would need its own rival to the BBC’s popular Radio Times. The main London contractor, Associated-Rediffusion, started a subsidiary, Television Publications Limited, and began producing a magazine called TVTimes. As the ITV network spread, the new contractors in the main areas took the TVTimes with them, with regional editions being produced in London for the Midlands (ATV/ABC) and the North (Granada/ABC). But there was no requirement to join the TVTimes for any company, and many of the minor contractors saw that having their own magazine in their own region would be good for them.

The TVTimes produced regional editions for some of the minors:

  • Anglia Television
  • Border Television
  • Grampian Television
  • Southern Television

as well as for the major regions of London, Midlands and North. Outside of those, each company either produced or licensed its own magazine:

  • The Channel Viewer – Channel Television (produced)
  • The Viewer – Scottish Television and Tyne Tees Television (licensed)
  • Television Weekly – TWW (licensed)
  • TV Post – Ulster Television (produced)
  • Teledu Cymru – Wales (West and North) Television
  • Look Westward – Westward Television (licensed)

In 1964, ABC and ATV decided to break away from the TVTimes in the midlands, starting their own publishing company, the 50-50 joint venture Aston Publications Limited. They launched the replacement magazine TVWorld, with the innovative idea of splitting the magazine itself 50-50, with a second cover in the middle allowing for the magazine to be folded over to create both a weekend and a weekday magazine from one publication.

When the contract changes were announced in 1967, the ITA’s chairman Lord Hill also announced that the situation of their being seven different magazines for ITV was untenable. He made the ITV companies start a jointly owned company, Independent Television Publications Limited (ITP), to publish one magazine – the TVTimes – with regional editions for each area. The new magazine started in September 1968.

Hill made an exception for the tiny Channel Television. Of only marginal profitability, Channel Television lived a hand-to-mouth existence, relying on outside interests and the goodwill of its fellow ITV companies to keep going. One of the outside activities was publishing: the monopoly of The Channel Viewer contributed very well to Channel’s coffers. Without that direct income, their survival might be in doubt. They also couldn’t afford to chip in for 1/14th of the start-up costs of the new ITP – so the situation was serious for them.

Hill therefore excluded Channel Television from the new TVTimes and The Channel Viewer continued to be produced, followed by a 1970s relaunch as Channel Television Times and then another later to Channel TV Times. This magazine continued to run until 1991, when the duopoly of the Radio Times and the TVTimes was abolished and the magazine switched from being a cash-earner to a potential cash-loser.

You Say

5 responses to this article

Arthur Nibble 1 October 2014 at 9:03 pm

The second recent sighting of the lost classic “Weavers Green”. I had to look up The Contenders”, which was a Granada series in four hour-long episodes described thus by IMDb – “Two childhood friends continue to rival each other in their adult lives, competing in their careers and for the love of a woman”. I assume the same woman.

Alan Keeling 8 December 2014 at 8:31 pm

Having relatives in the Paisley area, I became interested in STVs programme mag called “The Viewer”. The “Station Tuning Signal” could be found amongst the daily programme listings, but seldom mentioned in other ITV regional programme magazines.

Joseph Gallant 11 March 2016 at 8:42 pm

Couldn’t someone had come up with a magazine that could’ve listed BBC and ITV programmes in one single magazine?

It would be like Americans having to get three separate TV magazines back then, one for ABC (U.S.), the second for CBS, and the third for NBC.

Russ J Graham 18 March 2016 at 11:09 am

The BBC especially were very protective and a bit arrogant, so they wanted their Radio Times for themselves, they felt they were the ones who had the right to broadcast to the British people, and not those “independent upstarts”.

The BBC were, by law, “the principle instrument of broadcasting” in the nation, and the only broadcaster to operate under a Royal Charter signed by the monarch him/herself. The ‘arrogance’ and the ‘right to broadcast’ were baked into the system itself right from the beginning. They’re not a BBC thing – indeed, the 1960s BBC of Hugh Carleton Greene would reject that notion utterly – but rather the attitude and expectation of the government and the ruling classes themselves.

Blaming the BBC for Britain’s then-rigid class system, which is what you’re in effect doing with this gross over-simplification of history, is a bit like blaming George W Bush for being the son of George HW Bush: it may be true, but it’s barely relevant to any criticism of his policies.

Tony Currie 1 September 2016 at 8:43 am

The copyright in the programme schedules was retained by the broadcasters themselves, so each broadcaster had the right to license the schedules to whoever they chose. The Newspaper Publishers’ Association having initially demanded money from the BBC for publishing its listings had rankled long after the BBC and NPA had agreed that listings could be printed. Neither the BBC nor the ITV companies would allow any newspaper to print more than a day’s listings (two days in the case of papers published on a Saturday) and it took until 1991 before week-ahead listings became commercially available to any publisher prepared to pay for them.

A couple of additional points. Initially, STV listings were printed in “TV Guide” which was prublished by The Scotsman in Edinburgh (owned by Roy Thomson). It was in 1962 that the licence was moved to the Daily News-owned “Viewer”. And WWN published two separate weekly papers – “Wales (West & North) TV” in English and “Teledu Cymru” in Welsh. TWW’s “Television Weekly” initially appeared in two editions – “West of England” and “South Wales” (same listings but some variations in editorial and advertisements) and later when TWW took on the West & North, “Television Weekly” appeared as a West of England or Wales edition.

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