Where do we go from here? 

14 November 2016 tbs.pm/9865

Republished from a supplement to Fusion 31, the Associated-Rediffusion staff house magazine published August 1963

Lord Hill of Luton, the new chairman of the I.T.A. held a press conference on August 1 [1963] at which he stated:

The franchise for existing companies expires at the end of July next year.

The form of new contracts, including details of areas to he covered, days of broadcasting and rentals to he charged, will he drawn up at a meeting of the Authority on September 12 this year.

Applications will then be invited — “all bets are off and there will he a fair field for all.”

Two months will he given to potential applicants to make up their minds.

Decisions will be announced early in the New Year.

On the situation of the staff of programme companies he said: “The Authority is concerned that the programme controllers, the producers and directors, and all those who spend their lives making television programmes, should feel they are working not only in an expanding medium, hut in an encouraging climate of freedom, and can give to television their full creative stretch. We shall observe Parliament’s instructions—without hamstringing creative artists.”

The full text of his statement follows.

hill-2May I begin by thanking you for your understanding when on the day of my appointment I asked that I should be allowed to defer meeting you until the Television Bill had found its way to the Statute Book. This, as you know, happened last night and to-day I am fulfilling the promise that I made in the statement that I issued a month or so ago.

This afternoon I want to talk about the problems immediately confronting the Authority. The franchise of existing companies expires at the end of July next year. The form of the new contracts has to be determined, applications invited, the selection of the successful companies made — all this to be done so as to give possible candidates adequate time in which to decide whether to apply and to give sufficient time to allow any new company which is selected to go on the air at the end of July next year.

The programme for these events is as follows. The Authority will finally decide the form of the contracts — including the areas to be covered, the days of broadcasting and the rentals to be charged — at its meeting on September 12th. Almost immediately thereafter applications will be invited. Some two months will be given to possible or intending applicants to make up their minds. The Authority will then proceed to consider the applications and to make its decisions, announcing them early in the New Year, so leaving at least six months between the decision and the end of July.

The Authority which has had two full meetings during the last month has reached certain general conclusions which I will describe to you. It is grappling first of all with the problems of structure and contracts. This task completed, it will concentrate on its other immediate problems, for example, the new advisory committee system, the greatly strengthened role of the Authority in relation to programme content and the code covering violence and so on.

My main subject today is the shape, the pattern, the structure. Two main changes lie ahead. Firstly, there is the change to 625 lines and UHF. Secondly, there is the declaration of intention of the Government announced by the Postmaster General on 27th June in relation to the second Independent Television service. You will remember his words “if all goes well and there are suitable companies willing to offer their services to the ITA, the Government would certainly hope during the autumn of 1965 to authorise the physical build-up of the second programme, starting in the areas of big population.”

With these words in mind the Authority’s planning for the future must be based on the assumption that there is to be a second Independent Television service over much of the country. Therefore it has to begin as soon as possible to plan and prepare for Independent Television’s second phase — the two service phase.

Lord Hill with Sir John Carmichael, deputy chairman of the ITA from June 1960 until his retirement in July 1964

Lord Hill with Sir John Carmichael, deputy chairman of the ITA from June 1960 until his retirement in July 1964

On the assumption that the Government’s intention is fulfilled, the Authority has already resolved how the second phase shall begin. It contemplates that for the areas of denser population, there shall be competition between two independent companies operating over the full week and so, for the viewer, a choice between two independent television services. According to what is decided in the mapping out of these areas of denser population, there will be six or more seven-day companies competing in pairs. The Authority proposes, as soon as it has completed its urgent work in relation to the interim phase to get down to the task of planning that second phase on these lines. The basic plan for the second phase, which I have described, will change the face of television over much of the country. There will be changes of coverage, in terms of both areas and days. There will be openings for new companies in these highly populated regions and no doubt smaller companies then operating may wish to consider applying for the larger franchises.

Clearly the same contract cannot apply to the second phase with all its profound change as well as the period immediately ahead — the interim phase. It follows that the immediate contracts will have to end when the second service begins.

What should be the duration of the contracts soon to be awarded? In other words, when can we expect the second service? The P.M.G. said it could be on the air in 1966 — and then went on to stress what he described as the very real hurdles. The actual date will depend on, amongst other things, the P.M.G.s decision, after having the advice of his Television Advisory Committee, on the method and timing of duplication on 625 of the two existing television services — a complicated problem which I will not go into now except to say that it affects the dates by which the Post Office could have the links available. In all the circumstances, the Authority’s judgment is that the second service will become possible at some time between the autumn of 1966 and mid-1967. As the immediate contracts have to be related to the expected date of the launching of a second service, the Authority has decided that their duration should be three years, subject to four points. The first is that should the second service begin before the expiry of three years — this is possible but by no means certain — then the contracts will terminate when it begins. Secondly, should the announced date of commencement of the second service be after July 1967, contracts will continue (subject to a reconsideration of rentals in the light of experience) until the second service arrives, up to a total period of six years. Thirdly, any contract terminated by the arrival of the second service and applying only to an area in no way affected by its introduction will be renewed, subject to the six year maximum and to reconsideration of rental. Fourthly, if for any reason it becomes apparent that a second service cannot be introduced before 1970, there will be no extension of the 3-year contracts and the Authority will re-examine the whole pattern on the basis of a single service.

The question which now arises is whether there shall be a fundamental re-casting of the pattern from next July, bearing in mind that a drastic re-shaping is likely to occur two or three years later. Clearly it would be wrong to do anything in the interim phase which prejudices the long term plan. A number of ideas, as you know, have been put forward. It has been suggested that a seven-day service should be introduced for the Midlands with or without a change from the 5:2 pattern to a 4:3 pattern in London and the North. You know the objections equally well. The 4:3 pattern involving the addition of a day to the weekend and a reduction of weekdays is in conflict with the pattern of most of our lives — five days work and two days recreation. For myself I dislike this variation. Should a seven-day service be introduced for the Midlands, the successful company knowing that a few years later there will be a competitor in the same area and for the same days? Some might think yes. On balance, because what lies immediately ahead is an interim period during which the second phase will be planned and those years will be the period when the expanded competition of the BBC will be felt, the Authority has decided not to submit Independent Television to two upheavals in a few years. With certain modifications, the existing pattern of days and hours will continue during the interim phase. Let me make it absolutely clear that what I have said relates solely to the pattern of days and areas — of supply that is — not of companies. Present companies and new companies are to apply for any area they choose. All bets are off and there will be a fair field for all.

To come to the modifications — which will come into effect in stages — I will say nothing about Wales because of certain discussions which are proceeding. As for the other modifications, they are as follows. We shall be adding a satellite VHF transmitting station to the Yorkshire station and thus to the Northern Region, so as to provide adequate coverage for Scarborough (a population of about 85,000 people). The Authority’s East Anglia area will be extended by the addition of satellites serving East Lincolnshire (about 500,000 population) and the Bedford-Peterborough area (about 500,000 population). Whether or not the latter will form part of the East Anglia area permanently or become part of the Midland area will be reconsidered by the Authority on the introduction of ITV 2. The Midland area will, however, in 1964 be extended by the addition of a satellite covering central Berkshire (about 300,000 population). The North-East Scotland area will also be enlarged at both ends by satellite stations covering Dundee on the one hand and Caithness and parts of the Orkneys (about 50,000 population) on the other. We shall also be building a satellite in the Isle of Man and are discussing its future with the Island Government.

Lord Hill aboard Southerner, Southern Television's outside broadcast launch

Lord Hill aboard Southerner, Southern Television’s outside broadcast launch

There is one other subject to which I must refer. Finance. There is to be the move into 625 and UHF. This will involve an increase (because of the more limited range of UHF) in the number of transmitting stations, which will be built in collaboration with the BBC. It will cost a good deal of money, both for construction and for the subsequent maintenance and operation of this much larger number of stations. For this interim phase the Authority has calculated that it will need an income of some £8m. a year. It is working now on the appropriate rentals to be charged to bring in this sum. It has much more knowledge than it could have had at the outset as to what is the value of the concession in the different areas. It will, of course, take the known profitability of these areas, suitably adjusted to the changed conditions of 1964, into account in determining the rentals to be paid. It must take into account too the new arrangements (which the Authority must approve) for the sale and purchase of programmes and, in giving its approval, the Authority will pay special attention to encouraging greater freedom of movement not only from the central companies to the regions, but also from one region to another, thus increasing the scope of creative staff in all companies, and promoting a healthy measure of competition in the provision of programmes.

I am not proposing now to go into other matters in any detail, though I would like to tell you two things. Firstly, the Authority has decided to appoint (as the Act empowers but does not require) a General Advisory Council. We shall aim to make this body representative of the general body of viewers as well as those with specialised contributions to make. Secondly, I am particularly glad that the Eccles amendment was passed, enabling the Authority to broadcast experimental educational programmes provided by bodies like universities. As a result, there are likely to be new and exciting educational experiments outside, as well as inside, ordinary programmes.


I have thought it right to take as my subject to-day the problems of structure and shape. This is the work in hand. For the moment I will say only three things about programmes. Television, after all, is programmes.

Firstly, Independent Television is a public television service conducted in accordance with standards broadly laid down by Parliament. It is a national institution, here to stay and certain to expand. The Authority will faithfully apply the standards laid down by Parliament. This involves the government of the system, and government means rules. No one can work well in Independent Television unless they accept and honour the rules.

But programmes — and this is my second point—are made by people of the programme companies, and the Authority is concerned that the programme controllers, the producers and directors, and all those who spend their lives making television programmes, should feel they are working not only in an expanding medium, but in an encouraging climate of freedom, and can give to television their full abilities, talents, and perhaps genius: that they can work to their full creative stretch. We shall observe Parliament’s instructions—without hamstringing creative artists.

Thirdly the viewers. We know what interests us. We do not always know what could interest us. Already television has done much to uncover our latent interests: it should do more and more, adding to our store of knowledge, developing new appreciations, new abilities of perception and performance—so helping us to draw a distinction between life lived happily and life thrown away. Television has a role in exploring us as well as helping the social transformation of which it is a part.

Thank you for coming. From time to time I shall be happy to see you, and to tell you, as frankly as I can, how things seem to us to be going.

The growth of ITV coverage on VHF up to 1963

The growth of ITV coverage on VHF up to 1963

You Say

4 responses to this article

Paul Mason 18 November 2016 at 3:24 am

“ITV2” by 1966?The fourth channel.didn’t happen until November 1982. And I watched the start of Channel 4,with Paul Coia opening the channel.

Paul Mason 21 November 2016 at 4:23 am

Our third TV, rented from Radio Rentals from February 1973 while monochrome was of 625 line definition to pick up BBC2..This, our third set had four buttons, on which the fourth had white noise or a feint reception of ATV Midlands.
The fourth button anticipated the arrival of a fourth channel and in Sept/Oct.1982 test transmissions for Channel 4 began. Unlike.BBC2 we were to get the new channel from go. As you will now be aware, some years had elapsed by the time C4 came on air, but
our third TV just didn’t make it to its 10th anniversary. A sad end to the TV that brought us the much delayed and vaunted fourth channel.

Ben Grabham 22 November 2016 at 12:56 pm

Presumably the ‘ITV2’ proposal was kyboshed by the election of the Labour Party in the 1964 election, who as I understand it where pretty anti ITV. What Lord Hill describes sounds not unlike the system of broadcasting in the Netherlands

Kif Bowden-Smith 28 November 2016 at 8:14 pm

Correct, Ben! If the Tories had won the October 64 election, we would have had ITV2 as the fourth channel, building up from the mid sixties onwards. One of those critical “sliding doors” plot points in history. And in Science fiction!!

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