24 May 2004

ALBUM Meridian

Meridian Broadcasting
South and Southeast England: 1993-2002 (Lost identity)



The southern England region was historically a ‘no sweat’ region – a minor with the highest income of any region, no real network responsibility – the benefit of being a minor – and no definable ‘local culture’ to serve, unlike in the north or midlands. But stability has been surprisingly hard to achieve for the three companies who have run this region.

The ever-changing pattern of ITV seems to have changed most rapidly here. While London may have had more companies under more names, the area to the south has has less permanence in recent times than any other other than its neighbouring southwest region.

The first company, Southern Television gave way to Southern Independent Television in 1964 – a technical change, but a change nonetheless. Southern Independent Television in turn gave way to the bright and brand new Television South in the early 1980s.. Television South then gave way to TVS Television – a change in name on screen that ignored how redundant the new name was. TVS Television gave way to Meridian Broadcasting in the early 1990s franchise round, having made a large financial mess of the ambitious expansion programme it had set for itself.

Most of these changes went unnoticed in the region. Some were as a result of simple boardroom shuffling, others as a result of Machiavellian boardroom shuffling.

Meridian itself has not had an easy life. The company was part of MAI, which merged with United Newspapers to form United News and Media. In order to stamp the merged company’s name everywhere to get it recognised, Meridian (and Anglia) productions suddenly became UNM productions.

Now Meridian is part of Granada, and UNM is no longer acknowledged. But Meridian now faces the toughest change of all – disappearance of all station identities under the onslaught of the ITV1 juggernaught.

On Screen

Meridian ident

Meridian ident

Meridian ident

Meridian ident

Meridian ident

Meridian ident

The first Meridian ident, a few minutes into its first day. The question is, can we forgive them for calling the first programme “Meridian: the first 10 minutes”?

This ident was ahead of its time, in a strange way.

The arrival of new companies in 1993 generally swept away the slower, more ruminative idents of the late 1980s and started the trend for “live action” that now characterises BBC-1, ITV-1 and Channel 5.

A small swing against this style occurred in the late 1990s, where a quick-moving graphic swirl into a sudden form-up became fashionable. This ident is typical of that type but predates it by about 5 years.

Meridian break bumper

Meridian break bumper

And the first breakbumpers – squares and stars. These help illustrate how odd a symbol this is, and how different from the TVS predecessor.

Meridian/ITV1 ident

Meridian/ITV1 ident

Meridian/ITV1 ident

But even an innovative symbol won’t save you from the Granada implementation of the ITV1 corporate identity. A complex symbol like the sun/face is reduced to a tiny speck in a blue box – the blue helping to make the red parts blurry and the purple parts indistinguishable.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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