ITV: the answer to complaints 

9 May 2017

From the TVTimes Northern edition for 18-24 February 1962

VIOLENCE on television … the amount of time taken up by the commercials … whether or not we should have colour TV at once … how many foreign programmes do we see?

These are issues which time and again are the subject of speeches and letters by people expressing strong opinions frequently based on wrong information or no facts.

The Independent Television Authority in its latest Annual Report makes equally strong comments based on facts. The report, covering the 1960-61 period, says, for example:


Broadcasting bodies in this and other countries are often criticised for scenes of sex or violence in their programmes. In relation to its own service and, indeed, to the problem in general the Authority gave careful attention to this criticism in consultation with the companies.

If a charge is repeated often enough, its validity is sometimes apt to be taken for granted and it was, in fact, the Authority’s experience in its discussion with some critics that they found difficulty in explaining what precisely was being objected to.

The Authority does not feel it necessary to defend drama in which love and conflict, or sex and violence, have their part. These elements are to be found in drama through the ages, whenever a conflict between good and evil or a contest of human motives is being depicted.

But the Authority uses its influences, and also, if necessary, its statutory powers, against the presentation of drama which portrays erotic or violent action without discrimination or for its own sake.


For Britain it seems probable that the timing of the introduction of colour cannot be determined until it is known at what price reliable British colour receivers can be placed on sale and how many people are likely to buy them at this price.

In any case, colour should be introduced only in the 625-line transmissions.


Material imported from foreign countries occupied 12.6 per cent of total transmission time over the whole network, compared with 12.3 per cent in 1959-60. The slight increase in the use of imported material was due mainly to the inclusion in the schedules of programmes of general instruction.

There was no increase in the use of foreign material of a purely entertainment character… the increased use of British playwrights continued, 110 of the 134 plays written specially for television were by British writers. Of 71 adaptations of stage plays and novels, 54 were from British source material and 67 were made by British writers.


Having established the service for children of school age, the companies considered possible developments in the fields of adult and further education. Plans were made, but did not come to fruition, since unfortunately it has not yet been possible to secure the agreement of the Postmaster-General for the transmission of such programmes outside the permitted limits of 50 hours a week and eight hours a day for normal programmes.


Taking the year as a whole, the amount of spot advertising averaged 4.9 minutes an hour, or about 8 per cent of the broadcasting time on each station. Between 7 and 10 p.m. the average was 6.8 minutes an hour… it is not easy to make exact comparisons, but it appears that Independent Television carries less advertising than is allowed in programmes abroad.


The regional activities of Independent Television continued to expand, although no new company actually came on the air during the period. The main regional development was in the field of local magazine programmes, which are now broadcast in all regions outside London. The belief that Independent Television must strive to serve local interests has been justified by viewers’ response to these programmes.

You Say

2 responses to this article

Kif Bowden-Smith 9 May 2017 at 5:47 pm

I think the TV Times sub editor’s use of the word FOREIGNERS as a sub title in the list of topics is very telling about how insular British (domestic) life and thought was at the time. The Commonwealth (Empire) was all very well but only as long as we were top dogs. The word “Foreigner” is not used maliciously but with a completely automated mental segregation. That’s the point. So telling.

Kif Bowden-Smith 10 May 2017 at 1:06 am

Also worth adding that “foreigner” normally meant from outside The Commonwealth. In those days, a Canadian or Australian (for example) would not have been considered “foreign” because (as I was taught) they were our own “kith & kin”, whatever that meant. This wasn’t a skin colour thing (to be fair) as Swedes (for example) would not be “kith & kin” either.

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