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ITV Wales

 

ITV Wales

This article is about a television regional franchise in Wales and the West. For other uses with broadcasting networks or a former name, see HTV.
ITV Cymru Wales & ITV West (2004-)
HTV (Harlech Television) (1968-2004)

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Based in ITV Cymru Wales: Cardiff, Wales
ITV West Country: Bristol, England
Broadcast area Wales
West of England
First airdate 20 May 1968
Closed Lost on-air identity on 27 October 2002
Licence ends in December 2013
Formerly called Harlech Television (HTV)
Replaced Television Wales and the West
Replaced by ITV Cymru Wales from January 2014
Owned by ITV plc
Website Wales
itv.com/west
Former logo
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The HTV logo used from 1970 - 31 December 1992

ITV Wales and West refers to the Independent Television franchise area, licensed to a broadcaster by the regulator Ofcom.,[1] There is no channel, past or present, named "ITV Wales and West". The licence relates to a 'dual region', meaning that the franchise area is divided into two regions, each of which must be served by distinct and separate ITV programme services as more fully defined within the licence. Today those services are branded ITV Cymru Wales and ITV West Country (since ITV West and ITV Westcountry merged into a single region). They are provided by ITV plc which is the licence holder. In the case of Wales, the region is more accurately described as a 'nation region' and the regulator applies additional programme requirements as a consequence of this. In May 2012, OFCOM raised the possibility of a stand-alone licence for Wales.[2] The two respective service areas, in the context of terrestrial broadcasting, are defined by the area served by the main UHF transmitters located in Wales and their relays (ITV Cymru Wales) together with the area served by the Mendip transmitter and its relays (ITV West).

Between 1968 and 2002, the two services were branded HTV Wales and HTV West as they were operated by HTV Group for most of that period. HTV continued to be the named licensee until March 2008.[3]

The first ITV broadcaster in the area was TWW in 1958, initially operating a single service franchise limited to south-east Wales and the west of England but later developing separate services for Wales and the west of England, thereby establishing it as a dual region.

From January 2014 the dual-region licence will be split in two, with ITV Cymru Wales for Wales and ITV West Country for South West England.[4]

History

HTV (Harlech Television) was awarded its contract by the Independent Television Authority which apparently felt that the incumbent TWW, being corporately-based in London, was too distant from the area it served and that Harlech, jointly based in Bristol and Cardiff, would serve the area better. TWW were bitterly disappointed to lose the franchise and declined an opportunity created by the ITA to purchase shares in the winning company. Subsequently, TWW pulled out of its franchise five months early, selling the remaining air-time to Harlech which provided an unbranded emergency service prior to their formal launch.[5]

Initially the station used the name Harlech Television (after the head of the company, Lord Harlech), but from the introduction of colour in 1970 this was dropped in favour of HTV, which was simpler and removed concerns that the name Harlech was only associated with the Welsh part of the dual region.

Welsh actor Richard Burton and his wife Elizabeth Taylor, then two of the most famous people in the world, were both directors of HTV at its launch.

In Wales there was an additional requirement to provide a quota of programmes in the Welsh language. HTV West was successful in producing high quality children's TV series, often sold internationally. It established the 'HTV junior drama workshop' that auditioned and trained young actors and from which it cast roles for both its own productions, and other companies seeking young talent. Arthur of the Britons (a historic adventure series), Children of the Stones (a supernatural thriller shot amid the famous stone circle at Avebury in Wiltshire) and Robin of Sherwood were all very popular wherever they were shown. In addition to network and locally produced programming, HTV also broadcast imported output and was the first British broadcaster to air Sesame Street as part of an IBA pilot in 1971 (the programme had been rejected by the BBC).[6] HTV Wales produced far less drama output, though they were contracted to make the ten-part Return to Treasure Island for The Disney Channel in 1985.

In 1982, the new Welsh language channel S4C was launched and the increased need for programmes in the medium of Welsh encouraged an expansion of HTV's resources. HTV also began to supply local commercial playout for both S4C and the new Channel 4, which at that time carried regional advertising. The Pontcanna premises could not be expanded sufficiently to accommodate the increased studio production and so a new studio complex was constructed at Culverhouse Cross on the western outskirts of Cardiff, eventually going live in 1984. Further technical innovation was implemented in 1988 when HTV became the first UK broadcaster to install Sony Library Management Systems which allowed the automated playout of cassette tapes. Three LMS machines were installed, one each to play transmission tapes into the Wales and West services The third was used for commercials playout and compilation for S4C and Channel 4. HTV also launched a new "Night Club" service[7] at this time.

Due to delays in signing its licence agreement in the franchise renewals of 1991, Westcountry Television contracted with HTV to provide its Presentation Facilities and this service made use of the third LMS machine, fitted with updated VTRs. The service launched on 1 January 1993.

During the same 1991 ITV franchise round, the ITC at first considered disqualifying the HTV bid on business plan grounds, but it was ultimately allowed to proceed. HTV won with a bid of £20,500,000, beating three other companies Merlin; 'C3WW; C3W. Due to the size of the bid for the franchise, the company had to make considerable savings in order to cover the increased cost of the license.[8]

The company made a £5million loss for the first 6 months of its license in 1993, this was after a cut in the levy paid to the Government. Draconian cost cutting package took effect - including a wage freeze, the cancellation of annual bonus payments and further substantial job cuts, beyond the staffing levels cuts which had already halved staff numbers to 460.[9] The station was also rebranded replacing the "TV Aerial logo" and also dropped their in-vision continuity at this time.

In 1994 HTV finally cleared its £19million debt when Flextech brought a 20% stake in the company for £27million [10] Chris Rowlands, HTV's chief executive, said The deal was a tremendous opportunity for both companies. 'We will make programmes for Flextech and provide services for them which at the moment they have to buy in.[11] Flextech passed on its 20% stake in HTV to Scottish Television in September 1995 [12] as part of its deal to gain a larger stake in Scottish Television. The deal increased speculation that a merger could happened between HTV and STV.[13]

In October 1996, United News and Media agreed to buy Scottish Television's 20% stake in the company,[14] ending Carlton's interest about a buyout. HTV and United began talks shortly after the sale aimed at sharing production services and facilities.[15] United was quoted at the time to have "no intention of bidding for the whole company" but within 6 months, on 28 June 1997, HTV was taken over fully by United News and Media plc (now United Business Media plc) for £370 million.[16][16][17]

In 2000, Granada plc bought United's television interests, but at the time competition regulations limited the extent to which one company could control the ITV network, and were consequently forced to give up one of its ITV franchises. This resulted in a break-up of HTV, whereby its broadcast facilities and Channel 3 broadcast licence (and hence its advertising revenues) were sold to Carlton Communications plc, owners of Carlton Television, whilst the majority of production facilities were retained by Granada. Unlike Carlton's other ITV acquisitions, which were rebranded to use the Carlton name on screen, HTV's identity was retained on-air until 27 October 2002 when the 'ITV1' brand was introduced to most of the network.

Granada and Carlton were subsequently permitted to merge in 2004 to form the single company ITV plc, which now owns all of the ITV franchises in England and Wales. HTV Ltd was renamed ITV Wales & West Ltd on 29 December 2006,[18] alongside HTV Group Ltd, which was renamed ITV Wales & West Group Ltd.[19] On 11 December 2008, the broadcast licence was transferred from ITV Wales & West Group Ltd to ITV Broadcasting Limited, the company now responsible for all the regional franchises in England and Wales.

In 2009, as part of plans to reduce ITV's regional news service to save costs, ITV West's regional news service was merged with that of ITV Westcountry to form ITV West Country. The new programme, ITV News West Country is broadcast from Bristol.[20][21][22]

Studios

The company originally operated production studios in Cardiff at Pontcanna and Bristol at Brislington. Presentation, Transmission and back-office staff were based largely in Cardiff. In the 1980s the company acquired studio facilities in north Wales at Theatre Clwyd near the town of Mold.

In 1984, HTV opened a new £14m TV Centre at Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff to replace the original one at Pontcanna. Transmission continued to originate from Pontcanna until 1989, when this transferred to the new Centre. In addition to providing playout for HTV Wales, the new centre would, from 1 January 1993, also provide transmission of South West England franchise Westcountry Television. The property eventually passed to United Business Media (then United News and Media) following the takeover of HTV by the group in 1997. However, while HTV changed hands twice more, UBM continued to own the Culverhouse Cross buildings and associated land. ITV plc acquired the site on 10 April 2006[23] for £18.7m, and have since sought to redevelop the property. The largest production studio at Culverhouse Cross has been leased to third party operators since the early 1990s. In an interview with the Western Mail, the head of news and programmes, Phil Henfrey, confirmed ITV Wales would decide whether to stay at the site or re-locate to new, smaller premises in another part of Cardiff.[24] On 21 August 2013, it was announced that ITV Wales would leave Culverhouse Cross by June 2014 and move into a new facility on the ground floor of 3 Assembly Square, located next to the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.[25]

In Bristol, HTV were based at Television Centre in Bath Road, which they took over from 'Bath Road Studios'.

During July 2013 planning permission was deferred by the local council[26]

Transmitters

The Wales and West franchise area operated by TWW was originally confined to the West (comprising Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire and parts of Gloucestershire and Dorset) and south east Wales (broadly as far west as Swansea) and served by a single main VHF transmitter located at St Hilary . TWW later acquired the use of VHF transmitters covering much of the remainder of Wales from WWN (Wales West and North). An additional VHF transmitter (channel 7) was eventually installed at St Hilary in 1965 to carry programmes specifically for Wales, allowing the separation of Wales and West services. However, St Hilary was never used as part of the replacement UHF network and TV transmission from it ceased when VHF services were switched off in 1985. The mast continues to be used for communications and radio broadcasting.

The UHF transmitter network was designed to replicate the separation of programme services to Wales and the West achieved with the VHF network it replaced. HTV's UHF services were transmitted by the following main transmitters and their relays: Llanddona, Moel-y-Parc, Long Mountain, Blaenplwyf, Preseli, Carmel, Kilvey*, Pontypool*, Wenvoe and Mendip, with Mendip serving the HTV West region and the rest serving the HTV Wales region.

(Kilvey and Pontypool were classed as 'relays' prior to Digital transmission as they were not 'line-fed').

Prior to Digital broadcasting, the transmitter distribution system continued to permit the sub-grouping of west and north Wales, echoing the historic VHF regional configuration. However, it was not particularly useful for programme purposes but sometimes exploited for the transmission commercials.

The transmitter network has remained substantially the same for Digital broadcasting of ITV Cymru Wales and ITV West.

Identity

HTV's on screen branding began in 1968 with their launch ident. The design was that of two words 'Harlech' spinning in opposite ways and which eventually met up to form one word. This design would have been clearly seen to viewers of the service then, however viewers today would have encountered lots of black lines and a barely noticeable 'Harlech'. This is due to the fact that the ident was designed for 405-line television system used at the time, and due to the use of 625-line UHF system, the ident appears differently on sets that receive the 625-line transmission.[27]

When colour came to the region, a new logo was designed. Due to criticism from viewers in the West region, concerning the bias towards Wales that Harlech presented, the new logo featured the letters 'HTV'. The symbol created, named "The Aerial", featured the letters HTV in such a way that it looks like a television aerial. This was introduced in the early 1970s, and the logo remained with the station until 1993. The aerial would animate on through use of lines, accompanied by the same jingle as used before. The white logo on blue background was seen plain when both Wales and the West received the programme,[27] but would otherwise have the region name included. For the west, this was 'West' at the top of the logo between the 'H' and 'V',[28] whereas for Wales, the caption Cymru Wales was placed at the bottom of the logo, as a reference that Welsh programming was still shown on the channel.[29]

Following the launch of S4C in 1982, all Welsh language programming was transferred to the new service, and the Wales ident was amended so that the caption 'Wales' was displayed at the top of the logo.[29] These idents continued until autumn 1987, when the idents were changed in favour of computer generated versions. This time, blocks flew out of a large suspended blue surface and landed to form the HTV aerial logo on a dark blue background.[27]

HTV adopted the first ITV generic look in 1989, and it was their slanted 'H; that appeared in their regional section of the ITV logo. Despite the video sequence being the same, there were three variations of the ident, all featuring a different lower caption; HTV, HTV Wales and HTV West. In addition, HTV also made their own variation where the HTV logo remained on-screen the whole time. All these idents were dropped on 1 January 1993.[27]


In their place, a new HTV logo was made, featuring an upright, but stylised HTV, with two triangles for the 'V' section. Originally this logo was seen as a translucent blue logo moving back onto a multi-coloured blue background accompanied by an ambient tune. This was later changed to a more upbeat tune, ending in a more noticeable crescendo. This ident package marked the end of specific HTV Wales and HTV West idents, as all of the idents that followed used the single HTV brand. As a result, fewer programme variations were made, and regional variations were dictated by the voiceover.[27]

The ident itself was again altered in early 1995, to feature small triangles which grew and combined to form the triangular 'V' and the remainder of the HTV logo. The tune accompanying it was stronger than its predecessor, and the colours were warmer than previous, with a gold HTV and a changing blue, green background. Addition Ident was introduce in the summer of 1997 this time with an orange background. On 8 March 1999, HTV brought in their last in-house look, featuring the camera panning over the HTV logo in dark blue against a bright yellow background and accompanied by 2 remixes to its predecessor (although the tune from the previous ident was used on some occasions).[27]

However later that same year, HTV, as part of UNM, adopted the second ITV generic look based on the theme of 'Hearts'. However, when UNM was merged into Granada, the broadcasting arm of HTV was sold to Carlton to comply with competition laws. As a result, from 2 July 2001 HTV part adopted Carlton's star branding. The resultant idents featured Carlton's 'Star' opening films, before the screen flashed white, drawing back to become the 'V' in the HTV logo against the spinning hearts background as used previously.[27]

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ITV Wales and ITV West logos used from 2006 to 2013.

When Granada and Carlton introduced national ITV1 branding to all stations in England and Wales on 28 October 2002, the HTV channel identity ceased to be used for presentation. It was replaced by the on-screen name ITV1 Wales and ITV1 West of England. ITV1 Wales still uses a variation of the generic theme, however with the name Wales consistently present under the ITV1 logo. ITV1 West of England however has seen their regional identity less and less since 2002. Originally, prior to regional programming, an ident featuring the celebrity package was used, with an ITV1 logo placed above a small West of England caption to the left of the screen. In 2004, the regional idents changed to four coloured cubes are seen dotted around a regional scene, with an ITV1 logo and ITV1 for the West of England caption in the bottom right corner. This was replaced in October 2004 by a national ident, consisting of three small ITV cubes above a large '1' cube, with the caption West below. This was one of the last idents for ITV West, as regional idents were abandoned soon after, with the exception of Wales. The HTV brand was retained for local News programmes until Granada and Carlton merged on 2 February 2004 to create ITV plc. The Carlton name appeared on endboards from 2001 until 2004, when it was replaced by a generic ITV Wales or ITV West endboard.[30][31]

Programmes

Current programming

ITV Cymru Wales produces around six hours a week of national news, current affairs and features programming in English - its flagship programme ITV News Cymru Wales broadcasts each weeknight at 6pm with shorter bulletins throughout the day and during the weekend.

The news service is supplemented by regular current affairs programmes including Newsweek Wales on Sunday lunchtimes, the long-running investigative series Wales This Week on Monday evenings and political review Sharp End on Thursday nights. Several feature series also broadcast throughout the year - including consumer affairs programme The Ferret, interview series Face to Face and sports chat show In Touch. Since 1982, ITV Cymru Wales has also produced Welsh language programming for S4C - in the fields of current affairs, features and entertainment.

ITV West's regional programming is confined to news and current affairs as part of the non-franchise ITV West Country service. ITV News West Country includes a 20-minute opt out for the ITV West region within its 6pm programme on weeknights, alongside separate daytime, late night and weekend bulletins. A political programme, The West Country at Westminster is also broadcast on a monthly basis with other non-news content featured during the 6pm edition of ITV News West Country.

Past programming

Commissions for the network

Children's programmes

References

External links

  • itv.com
  • itv.com
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