Nevermind: GMTV 

25 May 2004


Russ J Graham on the unused ‘Sunrise TV’ name and symbol

In the (now mostly forgotten) days of the IBA, new applicants had two choices when wanting to impress the regulator. They could either promise to be identical to the previous contractor, or completely different. Depending on the mood of the times, and the region, either could work in gaining a franchise.

The replacement of the fair-but-opaque IBA system with the unfair-but-transparent version offered by the ITC also led to a re-writing of this rule. New applicants in 1992 – probably the last time newcomers will ever be welcome into ITV – saw that a largely financially-based system actively discouraged innovation.

But it also required that new contractors promise to be different from their predecessors to hide the gaping holes in the legislation. So when they bid for the breakfast contract previously run by TV-am, Sunrise Television chose an interesting path.

Sunrise Television, later GMTV

They promised to be different from TV-am in every way without changing anything. Thus they would get rid of the TV-am presenters, but hire lookalikes. They would offer a new concept – news for thirty minutes at 6am – but ignore that their predecessor’s ‘First Reports’ was already doing it.

Above all, they would have a name different but a symbol that was similar. The new name was exactly the same as the programme on Sky News at the same time – indeed, their first head was to be the editor at Sky News responsible for ‘Sky News Sunrise’. ‘Daybreak’ would replace ‘Good Morning Britain’ – though the name was already taken by the third rival for the contract, DayBreak TV.

A new concept, Daybreak Plus, would offer “more adult” material after 0850 – a full 10 minutes earlier than ‘After Nine’ on TV-am, which offered the same thing. Gone, they said, would be cartoons. Who believed this idea, we don’t know. After all, the Walt Disney Corporation was a major shareholder.

All of this was unpicked slowly but surely in the run up to launch and the months that followed. The name Sunrise disappeared after threats from Sky, to be replaced by a logo also surprisingly similar to TV-am – and a name even more so.

‘Daybreak’ and ‘Daybreak Plus’ were names soon forgotten. The presentation style – based around a breakfast table rather than a sofa – soon moved back to where it was before. GMTV, as they rebranded, was simply TV-am from the South Bank rather than Camden.

The loss of this symbol was a shame, though. As 3 of the 4 new intake in 1993 abandoned the identities they had won their contracts with, it became clear that the promises they had made were just as disposable. ITV as we knew it was over; the symbols simply pointed the way.

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