How to win an IBA franchise 

14 Feb 2017 7 Report an error in this article

So you’ve decided to apply for an ITV franchise from the IBA. Good on you. Here is some advice on what to do – and not to do – next, mostly based on what happened in 1980-2.


✗ DON’T: apply for the profits that would happen if only the stupid regulator would put two contracts together to make one giant pile of money

✓ DO: promise to work together more closely, then don’t do it


✗ DON’T: spend a quarter of a century utterly ignoring the ITA/IBA’s repeated calls to get a bit more regional, then rush to promise regionality at the last moment

✗ DON’T: apply for a new dual contract with an application that appears to only be aware of the western half of the region, right down to the name

✗ DON’T: apply for a contract that does not exist, thinking you’ll get only half of the region and turn a major company into two minors, potentially crippling the system

✓ DO: make it clear at the interview stage that you’ll turn the entire company and all of its employees on their heads in order to keep your contract in any form, because apparently that works


✗ DON’T: make a politically-loaded application that appears to be saying that the incumbent is left-wing, but not left-wing enough for the staff and unions

✓ DO: admit that the merger with a neighbouring company that you did because you were worried about both surviving the 1970s turned out to be a great big giant cash cow and you’re happy to demerge in order to spend all that lovely money elsewhere


✓ DO: be Granada. Honestly, if you’re Granada, you can do no wrong ever

✗ DON’T: find a flaw in the incumbent, for instance a bias towards Manchester, and offer to replace that flaw with an equal bias towards Liverpool


✗ DON’T: apply for this contract. Everybody does, because it offers the most return for the least outlay, so it’s not as easy as you greedy buggers think it’s going to be

✗ DON’T: be boring when your competitors are offering bright lights and lasers and stars by the tonne

✗ DON’T: go to all the trouble of getting together a great application without securing your financing first

✗ DON’T: come up with a name that clearly represents someone else’s region

✓ DO: say you want to be the 6th major company and promise to act as such, even though this will bring the entire system down around your ears a decade later and see you fall into near-bankruptcy


✗ DON’T: fight amongst yourselves

✗ DON’T: seriously, don’t. No hiring private detectives to infiltrate the cleaning crew, no having cars followed, no bugging of telephones. And certainly not while both sides are leaking the debacle to the Telegraph

✗ DON’T: prove Peter Cadbury right by then applying for his franchise just like he thought you were going to do

✓ DO: produce an application that is really radical, then, in the interview, explain that you are actually a safe pair of hands and can gently stop any unfolding disaster in Plymouth


✓ DO: explain how freedom from the terrors of a joint-ownership that you campaigned for for years and got will make for even better television

✓ DO: get enthusiastic for all you can do for the IBA’s new pet projects – breakfast television and The Fourth Channel


✗ DON’T: promise to try to be as good as the incumbent, because if the IBA wanted someone to try to be as good as the incumbent, they would reappoint the incumbent


✗ DON’T: apply as an excuse to repeatedly tell the IBA how crap the incumbent is, since the Authority appointed them in the first place

✗ DON’T: repeatedly tell public meetings that the IBA itself is useless for appointing said crap incumbent, since the IBA itself goes to those public meetings, what with having organised them and everything

✗ DON’T: pointedly choose, and use, a triple-barrelled name in order to make a point, because the point scoring so far hasn’t done you any favours and it’s now just getting annoying

✓ DO: sit back and let your competitor make a hash of things


✓ DO: be Scottish Television and lead a completely charmed life doing the bare minimum whilst knowing that your competitors, if any, will always be awful

✗ DON’T: waste money being an awful competitor to STV. Just because they make television look cheap and rubbish doesn’t mean the IBA wants television that’s cheap and rubbish


✓ DO: carefully craft your board and your management to reflect the troubled area you serve: seemingly integrated but actually dominated heavily by one side

✗ DON’T: rock the boat, nor whack the hive, nor stir up trouble, because, frankly, nobody wants to deal with this stuff if they can avoid it

The slides on this page are all artist’s impressions. Let’s not have a business about it.


Russ J Graham


More by me

7 responses to How to win an IBA franchise

Gary Sanders 14 Feb 2017 at 1:07 pm

1992 franchise auctions:
London Weekday:
Don’t: have made a programme several years previously upsetting the government and think the system won’t be hideously biased against you.

Do: be the government’s favourite.
Don’t: imagine this will keep your franchise safe.

Richard 14 Feb 2017 at 4:56 pm

I’d argue with definitions of Mercia being only half of the region, most of the time it covered much of the current W&E Mids defined region and at its maximum from the Wash to the Channel… *you’ll find me in the corner, tripped by such impudence towards my betters* 😛

Richard 14 Feb 2017 at 8:24 pm

What about the Channel Islands?…!

Russ J Graham 14 Feb 2017 at 8:27 pm

Only companies that had opposition in 1980 are included here, otherwise the need for completeness would lead to a very very dull page.

✓ DO: be the incumbent and don’t be challenged.

✓ DO: be the incumbent and don’t be challenged.

✓ DO: be the incumbent and don’t be challenged.

✓ DO: be the incumbent and don’t be challenged.

✓ DO: be the incumbent and don’t be challenged.

✓ DO: be the incumbent and don’t be challenged…

Kif Bowden-Smith 15 Feb 2017 at 12:48 am

Bugger The Channel Islands. That’s what I say.

Also the point of our Mercia joke is that they seemingly only really wanted half the dual region on offer. That seems like trying to change the boundaries after the IBA decided them…

Richard 15 Feb 2017 at 6:28 pm

…Ah… M’Lud Kif, I am indeed tripped by impudence, I thought it was the other way about, that Mercia was the whole region one and Midland was the divisive… I’ll be on the naughty step until further notice…

Arthur Nibble 17 Feb 2017 at 7:14 pm

Bugger the Channel Islands, Kif? You were quite praiseworthy of their ITV station when compiling a critique of Channel’s start up just over a year ago. Tee hee! 🙂

Have Your Say