Independent Television Service for Wales and the West


Independent Television Service for Wales and the West

Infobox ITV franchisee
name = Independent Television Service for Wales and the West (ITSWW)


based = Cardiff, Bristol
area = Wales
West of England
owner = An arrangement by the ITA where HTV used old TWW staff and facilities prior to becoming ready with its own franchise
airdate = 4 March 1968
old
captionb =
closeddate = 20 May 1968
replaced = Television Wales and West
replaced by = Harlech Television later known as HTV
website =

Independent Television Service for Wales and the West or ITSWW is a unique entity within the history of ITV.cite web|url=http://www.transdiffusion.org/emc/ident/album/itsww.php|title=ITSWW - Album - Ident|accessdate=2008-03-16]

On 11 June 1967 the Independent Television Authority (ITA) had announced changes to the structure and contracts of the ITV network in the United Kingdom, to take effect in July 1968.cite book |editor= Croston, Eric (ed) |title=ITV 1968 |publisher= Independent Television Authority |location=London |pages=11 |chapter= The Authority's Policy] Several changes were announced that would have far-reaching effects for British television.cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4247914.stm|title=BBC NEWS - Entertainment - TV and Radio - Timeline: 50 years of ITV|accessdate=2008-03-16] The UK press decided that the most dramatic news was the loss of the Wales and West contract,cite web|url=http://www.transdiffusion.org/pmc/newspapers/franchise68/tww/|title=Death of TWW|accessdate=2008-03-16] held by TWW since 1958,cite web|url=http://www.transdiffusion.org/emc/geohistory/list.php|title=The List - GeoHistory|accessdate=2008-03-16] to a consortium headed by and named after Lord Harlech.cite web|url=http://www.hhg.org.uk/tww.html|title=The Harlech House of Graphics - The Early Years|accessdate=2008-03-16]

TWW spent some months fighting the decision, including some acrimonious exchanges with the ITA in the press."The Daily Telegraph", "'Capricious injustice' to TWW", 21 June 1967, quoted in [http://www.transdiffusion.org/pmc/newspapers/franchise68/tww/dt670621.htm Death of TWW: Telegraph 21/06/67] , accessed 16 March 2008] However, the ITA remained resolute that it was legally entitled to remove any contract at any time for any reason,"The Daily Telegraph", "Hill replies to Derby on TWW", 20 June 1967, quoted in [http://www.transdiffusion.org/pmc/newspapers/franchise68/tww/dt670620.htm Death of TWW: Telegraph 20/06/67] , accessed 16 March 2008] and the board of TWW eventually accepted this and announced it would carry on providing a programme service to the area until the end of the contract period.

ITSWW is generally not mentioned in history books (Bernard Sendall's otherwise complete history of the ITA's operations makes no mention of the service) and was rapidly all but forgotten.Sendall, Bernard "Independent Television in Britain: Volume 2 - Expansion and Change 1958-68" London: The Macmillan Press Ltd 1983 ISBN 0-333-30942-1]

TWW problems

Although a condition of the new incumbent's licence was that all technical, office and engineering staff of the old company should be taken on (the standard ITA practice at the time),cite book |last=Hill (of Luton) |first=Lord (Charles) |editor= Croston, Eric (ed) |title=ITV 1968 |origyear=1967 |origmonth=December |publisher= Independent Television Authority |location=London |pages=12 |chapter= The Authority's Policy] it was becoming obvious that the new contractor, Harlech Television, intended to dismiss all the on-screen personnel of TWW, and launch with a fresh team.cite web|url=http://www.transdiffusion.org/emc/tvheroes/iris.php|title=Iris Jones - TV Heroes|accessdate=2008-03-16] These intentions had a marked effect on TWW morale and programme production became more difficult as the winter of 1967–68 wore on.

Additionally, the board of TWW had been advised not to take the stake in Harlech offered to them by the ITA. TWW had other subsidiaries, but none were as profitable or fast growing as the television business. This depressed the TWW share price.Wagner, R and Carrington J, "The Times", "TWW worst hit as £11.3m is wiped off television shares", 13 June 1967, quoted in [http://www.transdiffusion.org/pmc/newspapers/franchise68/city/tt670613.htm From the City: The Times 13/06/67] Photomusications (Transdiffusion), accessed 16 March 2008]

Early in 1968, the TWW board decided that more money would be realised for shareholders in the eventual winding up of the company if they were to "sell" the last part of the old contract to the incoming consortium. This would provide a fixed guaranteed income for the final months of TWW and give some underpinning to the share price. TWW's accountants advanced this plan, and the ITA, who thought it would bring more stability to the situation, backed it.

It was calculated that the profit after expenses that TWW might have made would be about £100,000 per month and that the earliest that TWW could reasonably exit would be around the end of February 1968. It was agreed to sell the last five months of the contract to Harlech for just under £500,000.cite web|url=http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/itw/TWW/history.html|title=TWW|accessdate=2008-03-16]

However, Harlech were not yet in a position to begin production and would therefore have to launch their promised new service using "in the can" TWW productions. This was not an ideal situation for a replacement franchisee.

ITA solution

The ITA suggested a solution, where the sale of the contract would go ahead, Harlech would receive all advertising revenue from the handover date and would pay TWW a fixed weekly fee to continue making local productions for a further five months. During that time Harlech would be preparing its own programmes, using the same studios and staff, for launch in the summer. The interim contract would use neither company's name, and the literal "Independent Television Service for Wales and the West" was chosen.

This created a "cordon sanitaire" between the end of TWW and the start of Harlech. Nevertheless, the "in the can" TWW productions, of which there were many, still carried "TWW presents" and "TWW production" captions. This left the viewers confused, as a new service appeared to be presenting productions from the long-standing local contractor.

Also, TWW in-vision announcers were retained by the interim set up, giving a superficial impression that little had changed. This was referred to in the local press as "TWW's revenge" on Harlech. In the event, Harlech decided that the confusion was not helping, and brought forward their own start date to late May. The interim service lasted just under three months.

The interim service continued both of the former TWW dual services under the names 'South Wales and West' and 'Teledu Cymru' – the latter having been the existing on-air name in that area. For the interim period, both names were prefixed with the new phrase "Independent Television Service". Thus the new "ITSWW" (the initials were never used on air, and mainly served as an abbreviation used by the newspapers) was operating two channels known as "ITSSWW" and "ITSTC" respectively. What the viewers made of all this is unclear, but extensive broadsheet press advertising was taken out to explain the arrangements to those viewers deemed to be interested. Nothing was placed in the tabloids.

Idents

A temporary ident was designed, with four white horizontal bars shooting towards the viewer, electronic music and the name revealing itself a line at a time. The former TWW clock was retained, as were the in-vision announcers. With TWW production captions on the local programmes, it may have seemed as if TWW had moved to another region and the new local incumbent was presenting programmes from them sent over the network.

When Harlech Television launched its own identity in late May, viewers may have been more startled still, as it was "all change" for the second time, this time with new on-screen personalities.cite web|url=http://www.hhg.org.uk/ids.html|title=The Harlech House of Graphics - Idents, Clocks and Test Cards|accessdate=2008-03-16]

References


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