Meridian Broadcasting


Meridian Broadcasting

Infobox ITV franchisee
name = Meridian Broadcasting


based = Whiteley, Hampshire
(previously Southampton)
Maidstone, Kent
area = South and South East England
owner = ITV plc
airdate = 1 January 1993
old
"The original logo, used 1993-2002"
captionb =
closeddate = Lost on-air identity 27 October 2002 (known as ITV1 Meridian before regional programming only)
replaced = Television South
replacedby =
website = [http://www.itvlocal.com/meridian itvlocal.com/meridian]

Meridian Broadcasting (now legally known as ITV Meridian) is the holder of the ITV franchise for the south and south east of England [ [http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/tvlicensing/c3/meridian/ Meridian licence - Ofcom] ] . It has been broadcasting since 1 January 1993, when it replaced TVS. The main headquarters were situated at studios in Northam, Southampton (previously used by both Southern and TVS), but in December 2004 they moved to part of an office building on the Solent Business Park, near Whiteley, Hampshire; as a result, Meridian's role has gradually been reduced from producing a wide variety of regional and network programming (as it did since 1993, when it inherited a large studio complex in Southampton) to producing little more than regional news bulletins which are a contractual obligation (as it does today).

* Note: ITV's 'South & South East' franchise area coincides only partly with that of the South East England government region, as it does not include the Oxford transmitter region (Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire), which is instead part of the ITV Thames Valley franchise area; it also includes parts of Dorset and Wiltshire which are in the South West England region.

Launch

The first programme shown on Meridian was "Meridian - The First 10 Minutes" This was a 10-minute long movie, showcasing the future for ITV on Meridian. Other launch day programmes including Michael Palin's "First Night on Meridian".

Other Meridian-commissioned programmes that were introduced included "Wizadora" for pre-school children, plus "ZZZap" and "Eye Of The Storm" for older children. Later on other children's programming was introduced including "Dog and Duck" for pre-school children. Drama became a successful genre for Meridian, with Peter Kosminsky's hard-hitting "No Child of Mine" (co-produced by Stonehenge Films, United Productions and Meridian for ITV) tackling the emotionally difficult subject of child abuse, winning Meridian a BAFTA. Later, the same production team tackled vicious childhood bullying in "Walking on the Moon" for ITV. "Hornblower" was a Sunday night success for ITV and another Sunday night favourite, "Where the Heart Is", transferred production from Anglia to Meridian in 2004.

When TVS took over from Southern in 1982 the south-east region was enlarged by switching the Bluebell Hill transmitter from Thames/LWT, resulting in a new centre in Maidstone, but when Meridian took over the franchise, they created a new "West" sub-region around the Hannington transmitter in order to improve the area's local news coverage, using a small news studio based at Newbury. The centre was closed in 2004, with production of "Meridian Tonight" moving to the new headquarters in Whiteley. As of December 2007 the empty studios are being used as a secure lorry park, with the back lot used as an overflow car park for St Mary's Stadium. In the summer of 2008, the empty studios started to be dismantled with plans for a multi-storey block of flats to be built. As of October 2008, this has been put on hold for the forseeable future.

ub-regions

Meridian operates three sub-regions:
* ITV Meridian South East (Kent, Medway, East Sussex, South Essex and Brighton and Hove);
* ITV Meridian South (Brighton and Hove, West Sussex, southern Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and eastern Dorset);
* ITV Thames Valley - this replaced ITV Meridian West which served northern Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire and parts of Surrey, when it merged with neighbouring Central South to create a single ITV Thames Valley [http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,,1791328,00.html] . Its news programme is now called "Thames Valley Tonight", and although ITV Thames Valley is not branded as Meridian, it does broadcast from Meridian's studios. It is now the biggest of the three new regions adding Oxfordshire, the Swindon area and Buckinghamshire to the Meridian West counties.

The South and South-East regions produce their own editions of the flagship news magazine "Meridian Tonight" (6pm weeknights), alongside further "Meridian News" bulletins throughout the day. Only during
GMTV are there pan-regional bulletins, which are now branded "GMTV News" as they now also cover all of the Thames Valley region. The sub-regions have their own local advertisements too, but otherwise, programmes across the whole Meridian region are identical. All of the bulletins for all three regions come from studios in the same building in Whiteley, Hampshire. Some consider this controversial, particularly as the Meridian South East programme for Kent, East Sussex and South Essex is presented by anchors from a studio in Hampshire, 60 miles from the nearest part of the South East region (Brighton) and 160 miles from its furthest point (Broadstairs). This practice isn't a new one, though, as Anglia have always broadcast both of their editions of "Anglia News"/"Anglia Tonight" from Norwich for the east and west of the region since their inception in 1990, covering a geographical area roughly the same size in length as Meridian's. The main newsroom, technical production and transmission end of the programmes is centred in Whiteley - but there is a small south-east newsroom with a limited number of reporters based at The Maidstone Studios Meridian left these studios originally and went to an industrial estate at New Hythe near Maidstone in Kent. Programme editorial decisions are made in Whitely for all regions. The model has been extended to "Thames Valley Tonight", which is also produced at the Whiteley headquarters, with the former Central South studio in Abingdon as a satellite newsroom remaining in a small part of the building.

Under cost-cutting plans announced by ITV in September 2007 and agreed to by the UK's broadcasting regulator Ofcom in October 2008, the region's three evening news broadcasts - Meridian South, Meridian South East and Thames Valley - will become one. The new programme will cover a large part of England, stretching from Kent and south Essex to Dorset as well as north to Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. This move is very unpopular as it is seen by many as an attempt by ITV to maximise profit at the expense of public-service broadcasting. The new cheaply-produced programme will not be a "local" news service like any of those offered by the area's ITV contractors until, represents a new low in ITV's representation of the region and the next step could be the end of ITV regional television.

ITV Meridian employs about 180 staff. [cite news
title = Meridian faces axe
publisher = Salisbury Journal
date = 21 September, 2007
url = http://www.thisissalisbury.co.uk/display.var.1703437.0.meridian_faces_axe.php
accessdate = 2007-09-21
] Over half of those people are due to be made redundant under plans published by the broadcaster in October 2008.

Presenters ("Meridian News")

* ITV Thames Valley - Wesley Smith, Mary Green, Hannah Shellswell.
* ITV Meridian South East - Ian Axton, Sangeeta Bhabra, Glen Thompsett (freelance cover).
* ITV Meridian South - Fred Dinenage, Debbie Thrower, Paul Belverstone.

* Weather - Gemma Humphries, Martyn Davies, Robin McCallum, Philippa Drew (all sub-regions); Carl Tyler (relief forecaster/former regular South presenter); Simon Parkin (dedicated Thames Valley forecaster/very occasional cover for Meridian).

Identity

Meridian's original ident featured an exploding mix of orange, yellow and blue, which then came together to form the familiar sun/face logo. The unusual logo design is reportedly inspired by maritime images (the sun/moon face is a recurring feature on compasses, sextons and other nautical artefacts used in the navigation of ships), appropriately reflecting the south's long seafaring history and naval credentials. The name "Meridian", which derives from the Latin "meridionālis" meaning "of the south", may also be linked to the Prime Meridian (the boundary between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres of the globe, and a key landmark in the measurement of time), which passes through the middle of the region, although this has not been confirmed.

Under several different formups and backgrounds, the sun/face logo was in use until 2002 when the station was re-branded as 'ITV1 Meridian'. The original logo was last seen at the start of the late-night weather forecast on 5 December 2004, and on 1 February 2005 it was replaced with a banner simply saying 'ITV Meridian', the 'official' name of the franchisee these days.

Ownership

Meridian Broadcasting was originally controlled by Mills and Allen International (MAI). [ [http://www.investis.com/ubm/reports/04annual/creview.html United Business Media annual report] ] . In 1994, MAI bought Anglia Television, and in 1995 it was a major shareholder in the consortium that won the franchise for Channel 5. [http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/itc/uk_television_sector/overview/key_dates.asp.html OfCom] ]

In 1996, MAI merged with United Newspapers (via an agreed takeover by United) to form United News and Media (UNM). The resulting company owned the "Daily Express" newspaper, Meridian, Anglia, and a large shareholding (through the "Yorkshire Post") in Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television, the owners of Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television [ [http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/27568&EDATE= PRNewsWire] ] . This stake was sold to Granada Television, allowing them to take control of the two franchises. In 1997, UNM bought HTV. [http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/itc/uk_television_sector/overview/key_dates.asp.html OfCom] ]

UNM had spent several years attempting to merge with either Granada Group or Carlton Communications, but negotiations came to nothing. Instead, in 2000, UNM sold its broadcasting and newspaper interests and became United Business Media. Meridian, Anglia and HTV were acquired by Granada, but the UK Broadcasting Act, at that time, did not allow one company to control that number of franchises. Granada gave HTV to Carlton, in return for Carlton relinquishing the 20% stake in Meridian that it had inherited from Central Independent Television. [ [http://www.itvplc.com/itv/about/history/ ITV plc] ]

In 2002, Granada and Carlton decided to consolidate the separate brandings for the ITV franchises that they controlled, this consolidation became even more apparent after Granada and Carlton merged to form ITV plc.

Productions

Some of Meridian's notable contributions to the national television network include:
* "Hornblower"
* "Monkey Business"
* "The Ruth Rendell Mysteries" (1993-2000; previously TVS)
* "That's Esther"
* "Wizadora"
* "ZZZap!"
* "No Child of Mine"
* "Walking on the Moon"
* "Where the Heart Is" (transferred from Anglia)

ITV Local

Meridian was the first to trial the online local television service, ITV Local, in 2005 (former Meridian managing director and one-time LNN journalist Lindsay Charlton is director of programming and content). The service, available 24 hours a day, provides all regional content shown on Meridian, plus additional coverage of local events, documentaries, webcams, advertisements and other features. It was later joined by ITV Thames Valley, ITV London, ITV Central, ITV Granada, ITV Wales, ITV Yorkshire, ITV Tyne Tees and ITV Border. The final rollouts to ITV West and ITV Westcountry were completed on 8 October 2007.

Flick's Flicks is one of ITV Local Meridian's longest running shows. A monthly arthouse film review show that is filmed at the Duke of York's Cinema in Brighton, it has been running since 2005 on ITV Local Meridian's "What's On" and "Local Life" channels. The show previews up-and-coming films and events as well as offering exclusive interviews with filmmakers and actors. Kristin Scott Thomas was a guest on the show in 2007, talking about the film Tell No One, in which she featured.

References

External links

* [http://www.itvlocal.com/meridian ITV Meridian & Thames Valley] at itvlocal.com


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