ITV (Independent Television)
ITV logo.svg
Launched 22 September 1955
Owned by ITV plc
STV Group plc
UTV Media
Channel Television
Audience share ITV Network:
0.7% (+1)
1.0% (HD)
(October 2011, BARB)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Sister channel(s) ITV2
Analogue Channel 3
(Phased out nationwide by 2012)
Freeview Channel 3
Channel 33 (+1)
Channel 51 (HD)
Freesat Channel 103
Channel 112 (+1, ITV1 regions only)
Channel 119 (HD, ITV1 regions only)
Sky Channel 103
Channel 114 (+1, ITV1 regions only)
Channel 178 (HD, ITV1 regions only)
Astra 2D 10758V 22000 5/6
10832H 22000 5/6 (HD)
Virgin Media Channel 103
Channel 114 (+1)
Channel 113 (HD)
Smallworld Cable Channel 103
Channel 126 (+1)
Channel 107 (HD)
Channel 217 (ITV1 London)
Newtel Cable
Channel 13 (Channel Television)
UPC Cablecom
Channel 159/175 (ITV1 London)
UPC Ireland Channel 110 (UTV)
UPC Poland Channel 853 (ITV1 London)
Freewire Channel 103
TalkTalk TV Channel 3
Internet television Watch live (ITV1 London, UK only)
TVCatchup Watch live (ITV1 London, UK only)
Watch live (ITV1+1, UK only)
Zattoo Watch live (STV West, UK only)
Watch live (UTV, UK only)
ITV Player
STV Player
UTV Player
cTV Player

ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK. Since the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990, its legal name has been Channel 3, the number 3 having no real meaning other than to distinguish it from BBC One, BBC Two and Channel 4. In part, the number 3 was assigned as televisions would usually be tuned so that the regional ITV station would be on the third button, the other stations being allocated to that of the number their name contained.

ITV is to be distinguished from ITV plc, the company that resulted from the merger of Granada plc and Carlton Communications in 2004 and which is the parent of ITV Broadcasting Limited to whom all of the Channel 3 broadcasting licences in England, Wales, Southern Scotland and the Isle of Man were transferred in November 2008. Similarly ITV1 is the brand used by ITV plc for the Channel 3 service in these areas. Of the companies external to ITV plc, Channel Television uses ITV's branding in the Channel Islands whilst STV and UTV use their own brands in their own respective areas (Northern and Central Scotland and Northern Ireland).



The oldest TV studios in the UK, The Manchester Studios, built in 1954. The studios housed Granada Television, which was the last surviving ITV franchise in its original form in 2004
The Leeds Studios, previously used by Yorkshire Television, before becoming ITV Yorkshire. Each ITV region had its own studios.
ITV share of viewing 1992–2008 Broadcasters' Audience Research Board figures.

Independent Television was created following the Television Act 1954, with the Independent Television Authority set up to control and review the network. ITV initially launched in three main areas: London, the Midlands and the North of England in September 1955, February 1956 and May 1956 respectively. The shape of the ITV Network and the course it has taken down the years has largely been controlled by regular reviews by the Authority which occurred in 1964, 1968, 1974, 1982, and 1993, which saw regions and contract areas reshaped and licence holders changed. Additionally, since the Broadcasting Act 1990 the consolidation of ITV companies has also had an important bearing on the direction of the network. The 1990s saw the number of broadcasters drop dramatically, for instance in 1992, Yorkshire Television acquired Tyne Tees Television to create Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television, only for this entity to merge with Granada Television in 1997. A similar process happened with the Southern Regions, leaving Carlton Television and Granada Television as the two major players, until the failure of ITV Digital saw these two merge.

Today, all the ITV companies are in the hands of three companies: ITV plc, owners of twelve franchises in England, Wales, South Scotland and the Isle of Man and of the breakfast franchise; STV Group plc owners of two franchises in North and Central Scotland; and UTV Media plc, the franchise for Northern Ireland.


Unlike many of the TV channels in the United Kingdom, ITV is not owned by one single company, although it has come close to becoming so in recent years. The network itself is governed by a regulatory body, this was initially the Independent Television Authority (ITA) but later the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the Independent Television Commision (ITC) and currently Ofcom, who issues licences to four companies to provide regional Channel 3 services. ITV Broadcasting Limited, a part of ITV plc, provides the service for 10 regions in England and Wales plus the Scottish borders and the Isle of Man, with a separate weekday and weekend licence for the London region. For the rest of Scotland, STV Central Limited holds the licence for the central Scotland, and STV North Limited holds the licence for northern Scotland, including the Hebrides, Orkney, and Shetland Islands, with both services carrying on air branding as STV. Ulster Television Limited was issued the licence for Northern Ireland and is branded as UTV. In the Channel Islands, the licensee is Channel Television Limited which carries ITV1 branding.

The licences were last put out to full tender in 1991, and have since been renewed and modified on a rolling basis. It is generally unknown if there will be any further franchise rounds held by Ofcom. Carlton Television (now part of ITV plc) had its licence renewed without a contest in 2004, and UTV's expires on 31 December 2014. This is the longest ITV has gone with the same contractors. There may be a possible round in 2012 or 2014 with scaled down regions known as micro-regions, very similar to ITV's original regional variations pre-1999.

Since 1983, ITV has also included a national breakfast franchise for the period between 6:00 a.m. and 09:25 a.m., with the licence currently issued to ITV Breakfast Ltd. and using the on-screen programme names of Daybreak and Lorraine. The network's teletext service is also awarded on a contractual basis and is currently awarded to Teletext Ltd.

All the companies holding a franchise are members of ITV Network Limited (formerly the Independent Television Companies' Association Limited), a non-profit body. It is this body that commissions programmes for the network, and schedules the network programming. However, in practice ITV plc, which owns ITV Broadcasting Limited which hold eleven of the fifteen regional licences, dominates the system.

Much of the originated networked programme output (around 47%, but previously as high as 66%[1] according to some reports) is contributed by ITV Studios, the production arm of ITV plc (consisting of the consolidated regional companies' network production departments), although a growing number of programmes are commissioned by the Network from independents (a minimum of 25% of total output, as stipulated by the 1990 Broadcasting Act). In addition, the entire network is obligated to broadcast national news sourced by a common contractor (currently ITN). All stations have the right to opt out of national programming (except for the national news) but generally do not, since most are owned by the one company and the others have limited resources for non-networked productions, although STV have stated that they wish to introduce more 'home-grown' content into their schedules and have opted out of a number of networked dramas (including the original transmission of the first series of Downton Abbey).

Digital Channel 3

Since 1998, each of the Channel 3 franchises have received gifted capacity on digital terrestrial television (DTT). As per the original agreement, each regional ITV contractor broadcasts its Channel 3 service from 9:25am to 6:00am daily, with the breakfast operator broadcasting in the remaining hours. However, unlike analogue broadcasts, the assigned capacity across DTT is able to carry multiple television services which, like Channel 3, are broadcast by the regional franchisee between the hours of 9:25am and 6:00am, with the breakfast contractor operating between 6:00am and 9:25am.

At present, all licensees opt to broadcast ITV plc-owned channels, being ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV, as opposed to broadcasting their own. Up until 2002, UTV in Northern Ireland ran a service known as UTV2, while both Scottish and Grampian ran S2. The breakfast operator, currently ITV Breakfast, is obligated to broadcast between the hours of 6:00 and 9:25am daily. Alongside the Channel 3 breakfast service, ITV also broadcasts CITV Breakfast, which is on the same capacity as the CITV channel. ITV is available all across the UK and is also available in the Republic of Ireland on Freeview and Digital satellite. Channel 3 shares its space with Channel 4 on Multiplex 2, known as Digital 3&4.

Public service broadcasting

The right granted by Ofcom of Channel 3's nationally-available status on both analogue and digital television comes with responsibility, in the form of public service broadcasting. Alongside the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5, the members of the ITV Network and ITV Breakfast all have a responsibility to broadcast various programming of public importance on their analogue stations. This includes quotas for news, current affairs, independent and European programming, children's and religious programming, and output containing subtitles, signing and audio description. In addition, Channel 3 stations are legally obligated to screen party election broadcasts on behalf of all the major political parties, and also other political events such as the Budget.

The future

On 12 September 2007, ITV plc announced a major five-year restructuring plan[2] targeting entertainment as their top priority to bring to the ITV network. A major overhaul of the regional structure of ITV was also proposed.[3] The proposals would see a reduction of ITV plc's regional news programmes in England and Wales, with regions now broadcasting one service per region rather than multiple tailored local services (for example: Yorkshire Television would no longer broadcast separate Northern and Southern regions). The proposed changes would also fully merge Border Television with Tyne Tees Television and HTV West with Westcountry Television, effectively ending two regions' tenure as independent players within ITV. These changes started on the regional news service on 9 February 2009 when Meridian combined its South East, South, and Thames Valley news services into one programme.

There would be a certain amount of expansion elsewhere — ITV Network Limited currently commissions around 47% of its programmes from ITV plc's in-house production units. ITV plc hope for this to be increased to the maximum 75% allowed by the regulators over the coming years.

Programming disputes with STV

In July 2009, STV announced that they would be axing programmes made by ITV plc such as The Bill, Midsomer Murders and Lewis.[4] The reason for the axing, STV claimed, was that the shows were too expensive and they would prefer to show programmes made in Scotland.

This move angered ITV especially since they had just revamped the schedule at that time to make The Bill the heart of their programming schedule. ITV's response to The Bill being axed was to air it on ITV3 as well as ITV1 so the majority of viewers in Scotland could still see it.

On 23 September 2009, The Press Association reported that ITV are to sue STV over the dropped shows. ITV has claimed that by dropping several hit shows to concentrate on catering for regional audiences, STV are in breach of their network agreements. The Press Association report that ITV are to sue STV for £38 million.[5][6]

Licence details

The table below lists current Channel 3 regional and national licences and the licence holder until 2014.
Licences in England and Wales were held by individual regional ITV plc owned companies prior to November 2008.[7]

Licence Service Area Licence Holder[8] Licence held since Parent Company Service Name On Air Name
Regional Channel 3 Licences
Northern Scotland STV North Limited 1961 STV Group plc Grampian Television STV
Central Scotland STV Central Limited 1957 STV Group plc Scottish Television STV
Northern Ireland UTV Limited 1959 UTV Media plc UTV UTV1
Channel Islands Channel Television Limited 1962 ITV plc ITV1 (Channel) ITV1 Channel Television2
English-Scottish border ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Border) ITV1
North East England ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Tyne Tees) ITV1
Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Norfolk ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Yorkshire) ITV1
North West England 3 and Isle of Man 4 ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Granada) ITV1
Wales and West of England ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (HTV Wales)
ITV1 (HTV West)
ITV1 Wales2
Midlands 5 ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Central) ITV1
East of England ITV Broadcasting Limited December 2006 6 ITV plc ITV1 (Anglia) ITV1
London Weekday ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Carlton) ITV1
London Weekend ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (LWT) ITV1
South and South East England ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Meridian) ITV1
South West England ITV Broadcasting Limited November 2008 ITV plc ITV1 (Westcountry) ITV1
National Channel 3 Licences
National breakfast time ITV Breakfast Limited 1993 ITV plc7 ITV Breakfast Daybreak;
CITV (weekends)
  1. ITV1 on air branding is used overnight
  2. Usually Just ITV1.
  3. Up to 1968, the service for a single Northern area consisting of both the current North West region and most of the current Yorkshire region was provided by Granada Television for Monday to Friday and by ABC Television for weekends.
  4. Coverage was transferred from ITV1 Border and Tyne Tees to ITV1 Granada following DSO in the Isle of Man in July 2009.
  5. Up to 1968, the service for the Midlands region was provided by Associated Television for Monday to Friday and by ABC Television for weekends.
  6. "Anglia Television Limited", which had provided the service since 1959, had its name changed to "ITV Broadcasting Limited" on December 29, 2006.
  7. ITV plc purchased the remaining stake of GMTV (now ITV Breakfast) from The Walt Disney Company in November 2009


For over 50 years of Independent Television, the homegrown programmes have become the best loved and remembered as well as being extremely successful. Before the 1990s, nearly all of the content for the channel was produced by the fifteen franchise licensees: the regional companies.

However, in the last decade, and following legislation in the Broadcasting Act 1990 imposing a 25% quota for commissioning of independent productions, the number of programmes from independent production companies not connected to the traditional ITV Network, has increased rapidly. Notable examples include Talkback Thames (one half of which, Thames Television, was itself a former ITV franchisee), producers of The Bill and co-producers of The X Factor, and 2waytraffic (previously Celador), producers of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

From the late 1990s, ITV's long-standing commitment to strong current affairs and documentary programming began to diminish with the ending of productions such as World in Action (Granada), This Week (Rediffusion/Thames), First Tuesday (Yorkshire Television), Network First, Survival (Anglia Television), and Weekend World (LWT) and their replacement with populist shows such as Tonight. News at Ten was also axed in 1999, although it was reinstated in 2008. In December 2009, the final edition of ITV's long-running arts programme, The South Bank Show was broadcast. The broadcaster has announced that it intends to cease funding regional news on the ITV Network by 2012.[citation needed]

Increasingly ITV's primetime schedules are dominated by its soap operas, such as the flagship Coronation Street and Emmerdale. At the start of the 21st century, Independent Television faced criticism for including a large amount of "reality TV" programmes in the schedule, such as Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Wrestling and Love Island. In its defence, ITV does continue to show its major strengths in the fields of sports coverage and drama productions, and it continues to schedule national news in primetime.

National and international news

Since the network started, Independent Television News Limited (ITN) has held the contract to produce news for the ITV Network, with 30 minute national news bulletins broadcast at 5:30am, 1:30pm, 6:30pm, and 10:00pm. These bulletins were broadcast under the ITN brand since the companys launch until 1999, and currently broadcasts under the ITV News brand.

ITN has long been respected in the news industry as a source of reliable information and news, and as a result the service has won many awards for their programmes, the latest being in May 2011 when News at Ten was named best news programme by the Royal Television Society and BAFTA.

Regional news

The regional ITV companies are required to provide local news as part of their franchise agreement, with the main local bulletin at 6pm and regional bulletins located after each national news programme. In addition to this, traditionally ITV companies would provide other regional programming based on current affairs, entertainment or drama. However, apart from a monthly political programme, most non-news regional programming in the English regions was dropped by ITV plc in 2009, with the practice continued in Wales and by STV, UTV and Channel.


The ITV National Weather forecast was first broadcast in 1989, using data supplied by the Met Office, and was presented by a number of weather forecasters. The forecasts are sponsored in which the sponsors message, as of 2011 The Co-operative Food, would appear prior to the forecast. The forecasts are made immediately after the main national news bulletins.

Prior to the creation of the national forecast, regional forecast provided by each regional companies were shown in each region only. The regional forecasts today are incorporated into the main regional news bulletins, and in the ITV plc regions, includes a Pollen Count.


ITV covers many popular sports. The channel emphasises coverage of football, with the channel holding the UK terrestrial rights to the UEFA Champions League and with the channel sharing coverage of international football events such as the World Cup with the BBC. On 30 March 2007 The Football Association confirmed that it had agreed a new four-year £425m television deal for ITV and Setanta Sports to show FA Cup and England home international matches (the Scottish regional broadcaster STV replaces these games with regular programming). The deal with the FA represented a 42% increase on the existing deal with BBC Sport and BSkyB.

In May 2009, ITV acquired the rights to broadcast live cricket from the Indian Premier League. The network also covers motorsport, rugby, and other sports.

Children's programming

The network broadcasts children's programming under the CITV (Children's ITV) strand. Children's programming is broadcast across the network on weekend mornings, during the ITV Breakfast broadcasting slot. In 2006, ITV plc launched their own Children's channel under the CITV brand, and all children's programming were relocated from the ITV line-up to the CITV channel in 2007, a move which was challenged by Ofcom in April 2007.

Teletext provider

The Public Teletext Licence[9] allows the holder to broadcast a text-based information service around the clock on Channel 3 (as well as Channel 4 and S4C) frequencies. Teletext on ITV was provided by ORACLE from 1974 until 1993 and from 1993 to 2010 by Teletext Ltd., whose news, sport and TV listings pages rivalled the BBC's offering, Ceefax on terrestrial and BBC Red Button on digital. Teletext Ltd. also provided digital teletext for the Channel 3 services, as well as the text output for both Channel 4 and S4C under the same licence and Channel 5. However, the licence was revoked by Ofcom on 29 January 2010 for failing to provide news and local non-news information on ITV and there is currently no teletext licence holder for ITV.[10]

Schools Programming

Schools programming on the network began in 1957 in some regions and expanded as more regions began broadcasting. It is a contractual obligation for the ITV company to broadcast schools programming, and this was initially broadcast as part of the normal scheduling. The programmes were moved into a segment for broadcast during the day in the 1960s, under the banner Independent Television for Schools and Colleges and from 1987 were broadcast on Channel 4 in the ITV Schools on Channel 4 segment. In 1993, this segment became Channel 4 Schools and later in 2000 4Learning. These strands of programming consisted of schools programming from all the ITV companies or from independent sources. The schools strand itself is now defunct, with no particular branding segment used.

See also


  1. ^ "Lygo quits Channel 4". C21 Media. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  2. ^ Wearden, Graeme (12 September 2007). "Content is king for ITV's five-year plan". London: MediaGuardian. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  3. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (12 September 2007). "Unions slam ITV regional cuts". London: MediaGuardian. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  4. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (21 July 2009), The Bill to be shown on ITV3 so Scottish viewers don't miss out, The Guardian,, retrieved 2 November 2010 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "ITV launches £38m STV legal claim". BBC News. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Television Broadcast Licensing Update November 2008". Ofcom. November 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-14. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Channel 3 (ITV)". Ofcom. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  9. ^ "Public Teletext Licence" (PDF). Ofcom. 17 December 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  10. ^ "Teletext Revocation Notice" (PDF). Ofcom. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 

External links

The ITV companies

Unofficial sites about ITV

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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