24 May 2004


Television South (TVS Television)
South and Southeast England: 1982-1992


Now in colour

South and South East Communications had planned on being merged with Southern Independent Television as a way of getting into the ITV system. But the IBA’s plans for a new dual region in the south of the country didn’t include Southern, leaving a surprised Television South to take over alone.

This required a larger capital outlay than expected, but did mean the new company got to take the large profit from the region all for itself – the south being an area with an affluent population, little regional cohesiveness and – above all – no expensive network requirements.

The new company, brighter and brasher than the staid Southern, also had more ambition, not just on the ITV network but abroad. As the profits rolled in, TVS Entertainment Group started to buy programme libraries and production companies in other countries, chiefly the United States.

But the downturn in the economy in the late 1980s left the company overstretched. MTM Enterprises Inc proved to be a huge drain on finances. The ITV franchise round at the start of the 1990s frightened City investors, who fled from the sector in droves and made further financing difficult.

The only way TVS would survive would be to win the contract again. The only way it would achieve this for certain, it felt, was to gamble away the projected profits of a revitalised group by recklessly overbidding for the contract. The ITC would be sure to accept an ultra-high bid above any others, thus saving the company. If needs be, the resulting contract could then be sold under the liberalised ITC rules.

But even the ITC could not take this lying down. Happy to sit and watch the network generally overbid as part of a kind of privatisation of ITV, the ITC simply could not accept a bid so likely to damage television in the south. If nothing else, it would make a mockery of a system that they already knew was another Tory privatisation disaster in the making.

MAI, a ‘media company’, knew that TVS was vulnerable and the competition in the area poor. Their Meridian Broadcasting took the contract, and TVS itself almost went bankrupt on the day of the announcement. By selling their programme libraries and studios in advance they survived until the end, but proved that a good ITV company is one that serves the viewers first and the shareholders second. When they stopped doing that, they were doomed.

On Screen




After a decade of white-on-blue in the south, TVS makes its debut determined to be different.

In complete contrast to Southern’s cautious on-screen presence, TVS leaps to air with this colourful and dramatic ident, using a spectrum of colours in the style of ATV and one or two others who chose to celebrate colour television – the opposite of Southern’s monochromatic and understated version.

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

TVS Television

Flash forward almost another decade, and brash colours are suddenly out of fashion again. Instead, muted white on a soft blue makes a (re-) appearance. Subtle, clean and dramatic, it is obviously the natural successor to the colourful version employed heretofore, and even manages to accidentally recapture some of the ethos of Southern by picking a blue and white colour scheme.

This ident was one of the best 1980s idents, with strong music and an impressive form-up. The only downside was the ridiculous renaming of the company from Television South to Television South Television.

TVS clock

TVS promotional slogan

Three quick items from the start of TVS in 1982.

A menu, with the TVS start-up tune playing; a clock heralding the start of ITV’s day at 9.20am (before TV-am had begun broadcasting in 1983) on a Sunday; and a TVS promotional caption.

TVS authority announcement

From loudhailers of the Independent Broadcasting Authority…

Ignoring the failure to reduce the volume of the music behind the announcer, this new authority announcement turns the previous pattern on its head, mentioning the Authority first, the company second and the region(s) last.

But the nod to ‘South and Southeast’ was important – TVS was one of two new companies in this intake to be modelled on HTV and gain a ‘dual region’ – effectively two franchises for the price of one.

The reason for not letting the franchises to two companies was purely economic – turning the midlands into one large and one small minor company and turning the south into two small minor companies would have dealt a blow to ITV that it would never recover from.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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You Say

2 responses to this article

Ed Burek 13 May 2017 at 10:01 pm

TVS certainly did things differently. I’m not sure if I’m right about this, but is it me or were they the first broadcaster to use a singular common typeface all throughout their broadcasting? (I think the font they used is called Clearface Gothic…)

Nick Prince 24 May 2018 at 4:11 am

TVS were the epitomy of everything that was bad in the 1980’s. They were the epitomy of greed.

I spent most of the TVS years living in the region and to be honest I have a similar hatred toward Television South as I do Carlton and Central.

TVS overstretched themselves and with a bit of over £50m a year for the franchise I’m from 1993, it is little surprise that this down-market mass producer of well, rubbish, had to sell off their programme libraries off just to complete their franchise.

The over-looked fact is that Television South’s predecessor, Southern Television, actually produced more networked programmes in the 1970’s than TVS did during the years that they bestowed their carkus in the South & South East.

TVS wouldn’t have survived the first few weeks of their new franchise.

Good riddance. Oh please don’t get me started on Meridian

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