ITV (previously branded ITV1 from 2001 to 2013) is a British free-to-air television channel owned and operated by the British media company ITV plc. It provides the Channel 3 service across all of the United Kingdom except for the central and northern areas of Scotland where STV provides the service.
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to 576i for the SDTV feed)
|Timeshift service||ITV +1|
|Owner||ITV Broadcasting Limited (ITV plc)|
|Launched||28 October 2002(unified ITV branding)|
|Former names||ITV1 (2001–2013)|
|Freeview||Channel 3 (SD)|
Channel 35 (+1)
Channel 103 (HD)
|ITV Hub||Watch live (ITV London, UK only)|
|TVPlayer||Watch live (UK only)|
|Sky Go||Watch live (UK only)|
|Virgin TV Go||Watch live (ITV London, ITV regions only)|
ITV as a consistent national channel (with dedicated slots for regional news and other regional programmes) evolved out of the old ITV network – a federation of separately owned regional companies which had significantly different local schedules and branding. During the 1990s, the differences between the schedules in each region gradually reduced – partly through the consolidation of ownership and partly through the standardisation in the volume and scheduling of regional programmes.
In 2002, a major change of appearance occurred when all ITV regions in England adopted national continuity. Regional logos vanished and regional names were mentioned only before regional programmes. Effectively this left ITV1 in England looking like a national channel with slots for regional opt-outs – like BBC One – rather than a group of independent regional broadcasters sharing programmes.
The unification was consolidated in 2004 when Granada plc acquired Carlton Communications to form ITV plc. By then, the two companies had acquired all the regional Channel 3 companies in England and Wales. ITV plc later acquired Channel Television in the Channel Islands and UTV in Northern Ireland.
ITV today is the biggest and most popular commercial television channel in the United Kingdom. ITV, and its predecessor regional channels, have contended with BBC One for the status of the UK's most watched television channel since the 1950s. However, in line with other terrestrial channels, ITV's audience share has fallen as a result of availability of multi-channel television in the UK.
Following the creation of the Television Act 1954, the establishment of a commercial television service in the UK began.
The Independent Television service, abbreviated ITV, was made up of distinct regions, with each region run by different franchisee companies. The three largest regions, London, the Midlands, and the North of England, were initially sub-divided into weekday and weekend services, with a different company running each.
The service was very heavily regulated until the early 1990s. The regulator, the ITA (and later the IBA) operated the transmitters, awarded franchises and had a great influence over schedules, content and technical standards. Legally the regulator was the broadcaster – the companies were contracted to provide an "independent television service" to compete with the BBC.
The ITV network existed in a region-heavy form from its inception through to the 2000s, although the switch to a single unified service was gradual.
ITV1 became the generic on-screen brand name used by the twelve franchises of the ITV network in the United Kingdom. The ITV1 brand was introduced in 2001 by Carlton- and Granada-owned franchises, initially used alongside the local regional name, such as "ITV1 Anglia" and "ITV1 Meridian". However, it became the sole on-air identity in 2002 when the two companies decided to create a single unified playout of the channel, with regional references only used prior to regional programming, such as local news and weather. Carlton and Granada went on to merge in 2004, creating ITV plc, which now owns thirteen of the fifteen regional ITV licences.
The ITV1 name was only used in England, Wales, Southern Scotland, and Isle of Man, until Channel Television adopted the name in January 2006, bringing it to the Channel Islands. As national continuity is often used on Channel Television, ITV1 national branding had been seen on the station for several years previously.
The licensees that use the ITV brand are: Anglia Television, Border Television, Carlton Television, Central Independent Television, Channel Television, Granada Television, HTV, London Weekend Television, Meridian Broadcasting, Tyne Tees Television, Westcountry Television, Yorkshire Television and (as of 2020) UTV (Ulster Television).
ITV Wales & West was the only exception, using the name ITV1 Wales at all times for the Welsh part of its broadcast area, as it has a higher regional commitment. Latterly, the ITV1 Wales name was only used on break-bumpers and regionally advertised programmes until 2013. Non ITV plc-owned licensees on the ITV network generally did not refer to the ITV name.
The network production arms of the ITV-plc owned licensees have been gradually combined since 1993, to eventually form ITV Studios.
|Diagram showing consolidation of ITV franchisees into ITV plc|
The ITV channel was formed by the unification of eleven of the ITV licences. The United Kingdom Broadcasting Act 1990 changed many of the rules regulating the ITV network, which most notably relaxed separate franchise ownership, and hours of production. However, as far back as 1974, Yorkshire Television and its North East neighbour, Tyne Tees Television, formally created Trident Television, a merged entity of the two companies. By 1981, due to regulation, the company was forced to de-merge; however, they resumed their alliance in 1993 as Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television, which therefore owned the two franchises, and integrated the two companies' assets more than its predecessor.
The intense race to own a larger share of the ITV network began in 1994, when Carlton Communications, the owner of London weekday broadcaster Carlton Television, took control of Central Independent Television in the Midlands. Days afterwards, Granada plc, owner of Granada Television of the North West, purchased London Weekend Television (LWT). Meridian's owner, Mills and Allen International, then went on to purchase Anglia Television in the same year, before merging to become United News and Media (UNM) in 1995. UNM then went on to purchase Wales and West broadcaster, HTV in 1996, while Carlton purchased Westcountry Television later that year. Granada then agreed a deal to take over Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television in 1997, giving the broadcaster access to both Yorkshire and North East franchises.
There was no further movement in the take-over of franchises until 2000, when Border Television and all of its radio assets were sold to Capital Radio Group, who consequently sold the television broadcasting arm to Granada Media Group. Granada then went on to purchase all of UNM's television interests (including its ITV franchises), which brought Meridian, Anglia, and HTV into its power, but due to regulation, Granada was forced to sell HTV to Carlton. By this time, all of the franchises in England and Wales were owned by either Carlton or Granada.
In 2004, Granada plc officially merged with Carlton Communications, creating ITV plc, although it was in effect, a takeover by Granada. In 2011, ITV plc acquired Channel Television from its private owners Yattendon Group plc. On 19 October 2015, ITV announced they were to buy UTV for £100 million subject to regulatory approval. The deal also included UTV Ireland, UTV's Irish channel. Initially, the UTV name was retained, but on 2 April 2020 the station began using ITV's national continuity-at first as an emergency measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then announced as a permanent transition on 26 November 2020.
The ITV channel consists of thirteen regional franchises in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which each broadcast regional news and other local programming to its area. Many franchise areas in England have sub-regions providing separate regional news bulletins. For example, the Anglia region is divided into West and East. This arrangement was suspended in February 2009, when ITV implemented plans to save the company £40m a year on the amount it spent making local news, but was reinstated (with slightly fewer sub-regions) on 16 September 2013.
Since 27 October 2002, on all ITV plc-owned franchises, regional programming has been preceded or plugged by an oral regional announcement, in the format ITV1 regional brand; e.g. ITV1 Granada. In English regions, up until 13 November 2006, regional names were also superimposed (post-production) on these idents below the ITV1 logo, but this practice has since ceased. ITV Wales remains unaffected, and still continues to use dual-branding across all of its on-screen presentation. Despite the lack of regional names on screen, the regional name is usually spoken by the continuity announcer prior to local programmes. After ITV's unification in 2002, the two London franchises, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television were merged into a single entity, ITV London, while the Wales and West franchise lost its official identity, and instead was substituted with ITV Wales and ITV West on-air, with no reference linking the two together (the licence was formally split in two by Ofcom from 1 January 2014, when the West region merged with the Westcountry region to form the West Country franchise).
Channel Television adopted the ITV1 brand on-air prior to the 2011 ITV plc takeover of the channel. UTV was purchased by ITV plc in 2016, but did not adopt national continuity until April 2020 (see above).
Areas with full ITV channel branding and continuity:
|Broadcast area||Pre-ITV1 branding||Post-2014 franchise||Post-ITV1 branding||ITV-branded franchises map|
|English-Scottish border||Border Television||ITV Border||ITV|
|Isle of Man||ITV Granada|
|North West England||Granada Television|
|North East England||Tyne Tees Television||ITV Tyne Tees|
|Yorkshire and Lincolnshire||Yorkshire Television||ITV Yorkshire|
|The Midlands||Central Independent Television||ITV Central|
|East of England||Anglia Television||ITV Anglia|
|London (weekdays)||Carlton Television||ITV London (weekdays)|
|London (weekends)||LWT||ITV London (weekends)|
|South and South East England||Meridian Broadcasting||ITV Meridian|
|Channel Islands*||Channel Television||ITV Channel Television|
|South West England||Westcountry Television||ITV West Country|
|West of England||HTV West|
|Wales||HTV Wales||ITV Cymru Wales||ITV Cymru Wales|
* ITV +1 is not available in the main channels (e.g. channel 203 on Sky, channel 34 on Freeview, channel 112 on Freesat), and may be in the regional variation channels instead (e.g. channel 973 on Sky).
In the English regions, the channel was known from 2006 until 2013 as ITV1, and since 14 January 2013 as ITV at all times. Regional references no longer appear before any programming at all in these areas.
ITV network areas without full ITV channel branding and continuity:
|Broadcast area||Present branding||Former branding|
|Northern Scotland||STV||Grampian Television|
|Central Scotland||Scottish Television|
In June 2007, ITV plc executive chairman Michael Grade hinted at a possible re-structure of the ITV regional layout, stating the existence of smaller regional services "no longer makes sense" relative to the regional audience they serve. The plan was confirmed in September 2007, reducing the number of regional news programmes from 17 to just 9, saving around £35 to £40 million each year, and affecting every ITV plc regional company with the exception of ITV London, ITV Wales, and ITV Granada. These changes were implemented in early 2009. All sub-regional news programmes ceased; ITV Border's Lookaround programme was merged with ITV Tyne Tees' North East Tonight programme, ITV Westcountry's Westcountry Live merged with ITV West's The West Tonight programme, and ITV Meridian's Meridian Tonight south and south east editions merged with ITV Thames Valley's Thames Valley Tonight.
On 16 September 2013, ITV reverted to a more localised system, as was the case prior to a shake-up in 2009, with 14 news regions (rather than eight). This meant people in the Borders, for example, saw a return to a Border-only news service, with all stories covered solely on Southern Scotland and Cumbria, similar to the pre-Tyne Tees merger in February 2009. Meanwhile, in the Westcountry, viewers in Devon and Cornwall also saw a return to a more localised service.
A high-definition simulcast of ITV, ITV HD, debuted on 7 June 2008, with the technical launch of the Freeview HD service. The channel has its roots in ITV HD, which began as a trial service in 2006 on a low-power digital terrestrial (DVB-T) channel from London's Crystal Palace transmitting station, and on Telewest TV Drive cable service. The channel was revived on 7 June 2008, in time for the UEFA Euro 2008 football tournament, this time exclusively available on the Freesat digital satellite service. With its debut on Freeview HD, the channel was re-branded as ITV1 HD in December 2009.
On 1 September 2009, it was announced that ITV would get a one-hour timeshift channel on digital satellite and Virgin Media, on 1 October 2009, subject to the Competition Commission's ruling on the contract rights renewal system. However, on 18 September 2009, it was announced that ITV1 +1 had been postponed until further notice. Prior to this announcement, electronic programme guide (EPG) data for the service had appeared on satellite.
The Competition Commission delayed the final decision in its review of ITV's Contract Rights Renewal undertakings to the end of February 2010, because it had to consider the "significant" submissions it has received.
On 19 January 2010, the Competition Commission delivered its provisional findings, ruling that audiences for both ITV1 +1 and ITV1 HD will be accredited to ITV1's commercial impacts. The Competition Commission recognised that the broadcaster had been deterred from launching new ways of delivering ITV1, because of the way media buying is currently conducted under the established contracts rights renewal (CRR) mechanism. However, the regulator rejected ITV's proposed removal of large elements of the "outdated" CRR Undertakings while maintaining an obligation on ITV to offer ITV1 airtime on "fair and reasonable" terms. The Competition Commission announced that such a change would leave the process too open to interpretation, and that they were "not likely to be either practicable or effective in addressing the adverse effects of the merger".
On 12 May 2010, the Competition Commission stood by its provisional decision to retain the contracts rights renewal system, but it added that the mechanism should be dropped at some point, and that the entire UK TV ad sales market needs a review. "ITV1 remains a 'must have' for certain advertisers and certain types of campaign", said the chairman of the CRR review group at the Competition Commission, Diana Guy. "Despite all the changes in this market, no other channel or medium can come close to matching the size of audience that ITV regularly provides. So the essential reason for the CRR undertakings remains: to protect advertisers and other commercial broadcasters". The ITV chief executive, Adam Crozier, said that the ruling was "out of touch and damaging for the interests of creative Britain". He added that it was "unlikely" that ITV would look to seek a judicial review, but that ITV would redouble its lobbying campaign for a liberalisation of regulation and "urgent modernisation" of competition law. But the commission said there was "virtual unanimity" among advertisers, media agencies, commercial broadcasters, and trade bodies, that CRR should be kept "in some form". The commission confirmed that the CRR remedy should be broadened to include ITV+1 and ITV's high definition channels.
On 27 July 2010, the House of Lords confirmed plans to launch an inquiry into the television advertising market, which "paid particular attention" to the CRR mechanism. The Lords committee investigated the declining revenues that commercial broadcasters gain from the sale of advertising across their networks. The members also considered possible changes to current ad market regulation, including the CRR system, product placement rules, and the scheduling and sale of advertising. The committee wanted to hear evidence on the current levels of regulation, and what impact a relaxation of the rules could have had on the commercial broadcasting sector. Interested parties submitted written evidence to the inquiry on 24 September 2010, with oral evidence been heard in October. A written report was expected to follow in late 2010 or early 2011.[needs update]
On 3 August 2010, ITV plc announced the launch of ITV1 +1 would take place in Q1 2011, with Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB)] later reporting that the channel would be launched on 11 January 2011. In December 2010, full testing of all six regions began on satellite.
ITV1 +1 was launched on 11 January 2011 on Freesat channel 112, Freeview channel 33, Sky channel 203, and Virgin Media channel 114. ITV1 broadcasts 22 different editions of digital satellite, but the timeshift service originally only transmitted six macro regional variants:
On 1 March 2012, four additional variations were launched for the Anglia Television, Tyne Tees Television, West and Westcountry Television regions, with the South East Macro becoming Meridian Broadcasting, West Macro becoming Wales, and Yorkshire/Tyne Tees Macro becoming Yorkshire Television.
The channel was rebranded as ITV +1 on 14 January 2013, as part of the rebranding of ITV's television channels and ITV's online services.
ITV channels are available on cable and IPTV in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In the Republic of Ireland, ITV (as UTV) was widely available, however, UTV Ireland was launched in 2015 and replaced UTV in the Republic of Ireland. UTV Ireland has since ceased broadcasting in Ireland. ITV is registered to broadcast within the European Union/EEA through ALIA in Luxembourg.
Since 27 March 2013, ITV London has been offered by British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) to members of HM Forces and their families around the world, replacing the BFBS3 TV channel, which already carried a selection of ITV programmes.
ITV was not a brand name as such until 1989 although the name was in common public use. Independent Television, shortened to ITV, was the collective and generic name for the companies which held commercial television franchises.
The name referred to the initial regulator the Independent Television Authority. It was keen to use this name for its franchisees to highlight the fact they were also public services and not simply commercial broadcasters.
The companies were principally identified on air using by their own names though some did make reference to ITV too. There were also specific uses of the ITV name - for instance from the 80s, ITV Sport and Children's ITV were used for programming strands.
In 1989, the first real efforts were made to turn ITV into a brand.
The ITV Association commissioned a generic presentation package for each of the individual companies. It included both a national logo and regional versions which included an element based on each company's own symbol.
Some regions made full use of the package - effectively leading to dual branding. However around half the regions made little or no use of it while some others later reverted to using their own local identities alone.
However the generic national logo was often seen within programmes.
The last region to drop the 1989 ident was Grampian Television which used it right up until the national logo was changed in 1998. All other regions had dropped their local versions by 1993.
The second attempt at consistent network branding cane in 1999, using the new national logo introduced a year earlier.
A series of idents were created under the theme, "TV from the Heart". Like the 1989 attempt, a version was created for every franchise holder and it effectively led to dual branding.
This look was only taken by nine of the fifteen ITV broadcasters, two of which later resorted to other designs which still kept the dual branding.
The Carlton-owned regions had their own dual branded idents while the two Scottish regions and UTV made no use of ITV branding.
By 2001, all eleven franchises of England and Wales were owned by either Granada plc or Carlton Communications, and a new common name, ITV1, was launched on 11 August 2001. This was to help show that the main channel was by then part of a suite of channels including ITV2. The existing "Hearts" idents were simply re-edited.
The biggest single change to on-screen presentation came on 28 October 2002. Regional continuity and idents were dropped in the English regions while the service in Wales was rebranded ITV1 Wales.
At this time all English regional continuity announcers were replaced with a single team of national continuity announcers - initially there were six but the number was later reduced to just four.
In January 2006, the channel adopted a new on-air look, designed mainly to improve cross-channel promotion across ITV's multichannel presence. The new logo brought ITV1, ITV2 and ITV3 in line with ITV4's, and had been observed on various billboard ads in the UK when the new identity was first used on-screen on 16 January 2006. The overhaul also put an end to the former ITV Day brand, which was axed in favour of a full-time ITV1 identity.
On 13 November 2006, a new set of idents replaced the previous set which debuted in January, the theme being "alive with colour". The initial set consisted of "Beach", "Bike", "Lake", and "Market"; "Basketball" and "Pavement Art" were added later in the year. They were created by Blink Productions for ITV, unlike the old idents which were masterminded by Red Bee Media. The logo remained the same in essence; only the "itv" lettering was inverted from its previous white state to black, to allow it to stand out against the yellow more.
On 3 September 2007, four more idents were added to the set, featuring "Bubbles", "Fountains", "Garden", and "Buildings", and as of 19 September 2009, all now have "the brighter side" on their breakbumpers. On 9 April 2010, four more idents where added to the set, "Lanterns", "Sunflowers", "Snakes and Ladders", and "Dodgems", featuring an updated ITV1 logo as seen on ITV1 HD.
In September 2009, ITV plc announced that ITV1 +1, a one-hour time-shift version of ITV1, would launch in October 2009 from 10:25 am to 7 am daily. The hours covered by GMTV from 7 am to 10:25 am will not originally have been included in the relay. The channel launched on 11 January 2011.
On 9 April 2010, the ITV1 logo was redesigned appearing to look 3D with a gloss effect. The logo launched with four new idents following the launch of ITV1 HD.
In 2005, ITV plc introduced a new channel branding called ITV Day, used to identify ITV1 between 9:25 am and 6 pm. ITV Day was treated as a separate entity to ITV1, and featured its own presentation set focusing using the colours of red, orange, and yellow, and featured scenes of typical "daytime" activities. Promotions were used in a similar format to ITV1, and all daytime programmes advertised within ITV1 hours were branded with the ITV Day logo. A similar "UTV Day" branding was adopted in Northern Ireland. The branding was scrapped in January 2006 when the ITV corporate rebrand took place.
On 14 January 2013, ITV unveiled a huge rebranding, including a new corporate logo inspired by handwriting, and the renaming of the flagship channel back from ITV1 to just ITV. Its colour schemes vary on-air to complement its surroundings; a practice referred to internally as "colour picking". Following the buyout in 2016, UTV also rebranded to these idents, using a tweaked version with the new UTV logo.
On 1 January 2019, ITV refreshed its on-air presentation.
The logo and trailers were modified to use a different colour scheme, but the main change was to the idents. In a project known as ITV Creates, a new set of idents were used weekly. They were built around interpretations of the ITV logo commissioned from British visual artists. The first artist featured was Ravi Deepres.
Since 2020 this has continued but with a mixture of new commissions and previous ones.
UTV continued with its 2013-era idents until it adopted ITV continuity and trails in 2020. However it used the new on-air presentation on trails with a tweaked version to accommodate the UTV logo.