24 May 2004 tbs.pm/1976

ALBUM Westcountry

Westcountry Broadcasting
Southwest England: 1993-1999 (Name change)


Never known

With ITV contracts being of fixed lengths, companies come and go. Looking back at the history of ITV, names can sometimes seem to pass us by like confetti. Sometimes, they are gone so fast as to be forgotten before they could even make a mark.

Westcountry Broadcasting took the franchise from TSW when that company ludicrously overbid in the ridiculous auction of franchises brought about by the 1990 Broadcasting Act, for reasons not really clear to this day.

Observing the law of opposites – be the opposite to your predecessor – Westcountry aimed to be slick and professional where TSW had be friendly and warm – just as TSW had aimed to put distance between itself and Westward by introducing an ident package that was, well, remarkably different.

Westcountry adopted a cosmopolitan, bland-but-serious identity to contrast with the homespun in-vision announcing seen in the area daily since ITV began. The plan was for Westcountry to ‘revolutionise ITV’ – the promise of all new companies from Harlech to Carlton. The amazing need of new entrants to spurn all that went before – ignoring many years of experience – was in full flow at Westcountry.

However, ITV was revolutionised not by Westcountry, but by Carlton in London. At first, their purchase of this little outpost of ITV seemed to have promise – an influx of money to provide a better, local service. Perhaps big-company money would produce the truly local service TSW dreamed of but couldn’t afford, and Westcountry had promised in its application.

Alas, it was not to be. The ‘dumbing down’ of Britain was reaching full shriek in London – that cosmopolitan place where all the important things happen and 100% of the population of the Kingdom wish to live, apparently – and it was decided that having a station serving Plymouth and Exeter with a different name to the station serving London weekdays was confusing the people of Cornwall and Devon.

Perhaps it was just confusing to those meeja-types in London who couldn’t conceive of a region outside of London. So ‘Westcountry’ was abolished and replaced by ‘Carlton broadcasting in the west country’. There, that’s far less confusing, isn’t it?

And when Carlton fell to the branding consultants, a new, even simpler name was thought of – ‘ITV1, Carlton broadcasting in the west country’. Now that’s great branding!

On Screen



Just past midnight on 1 January 1993, and Westcountry is born with a promo and then back to the network and a film .


One of the formal Westcountry idents. All very designer and 1990s, this ident is nothing if not very different from TSW’s odd world. A surprisingly basic symbol with a very plain musical accompaniment. Completely different from TSW, but with echoes of the gentleness of Westward.

To be even more noticeably different from TSW – as if being palpably inferior wasn’t enough – Westcountry dispensed with continuity announcers and just used the ident and pictures of ‘Westcountry life’.

Westcountry Live

Westcountry Latest

Swish graphics for the local headlines and main regional bulletins. A small newsroom staff, though.

Westcountry Live

Westcountry Live endcap

Far less confusing – Westcountry Live as a Carlton production on ITV. You people are, like, so thick!

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