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The 1968 Franchise Round
The Independent Television Authority faced a quandary in 1968. Aware of the success of the main contractors the ITA wished to ensure that their efforts were rewarded but the regional allocation of the licenses meant that each company would fight to maintain their stronghold.
Likewise the success of BBC1 and 2 had led to ITV feeling like also rans. The potential solutions were:
- Asking Granada and ABC to merge to create a pan-Northern station
- Merging ABC and Rediffusion to create a London-wide company
- Continuing with the status quo.
The solution that the ITA came up with was unexpected and sent shock waves throughout the industry.
ITV 1 and ITV 2
With permission from the Postmaster General Tony Benn. The ITA ordered the creation of ITV 2 and awarded Rediffusion and ATV the national license. Granada and ABC took over ITV 1.
The provisions of the new licenses were:
- Each station were to be owned 50/50 by the respective licensees.
- Both companies had to create a combined news operation.
Despite complaints from the BBC and the Conservatives as well as the "big 4" the plan was agreed.
The launch date was originally 1st of January 1969 but technical problems plus financial woes (creating production centres and financing a combined news service) led to the ITA putting the launch back to the 1st of March.
On the 1st of March 1969 at 9.30, 15 minutes after the end of the first ever edition of the ITN Breakfast News, ITV 1 and ITV 2 launched with a dual broadcast of "Welcome to the New" a hour long preview of what the new services had to offer which was basically a set of puff-piece interviews, trailers and speeches.
Both channels closed at 10.30 AM and reopened at 1.00 PM wth the first edition of the ITN News At One (which like all ITN programming was simulcast on both stations).
The local news provision was created by a weekend/weekday split with Granada and Rediffusion broadcasting until 5.00 PM on Friday and ABC/ATV broadcasting until closedown on Monday Morning.
The opening schedules were:
9..00 ITN Breakfast News
9.30 Welcome To The New
5.30 ITN News at 5.30
6.00 Granada Reports
7.00 Coronation Street
7.30 Emmerdale Farm
8.00 The Rag Trade
8.30 Bootsie and Snudge
9.00 ITN News at Nine
9.30 Football: Leeds United vs Blackburn Rovers
10.55 Weather and Epilogue
As ITV 1 except
6.00 Rediffusion Today
7.30 Life with Cooper
8.00 Double Your Money
9.30 This Week
10.30 Epilogue and Weather