Frost joins tycoons in shock ITV shake-up 

23 July 2018

Lord Hill names winners in contract battle

From the Daily Mirror for Monday 12 June 1967

David Frost, Stanley Baker and Richard Burton join the TV tycoons today.

They become leading shareholders or directors in a big shake-up of independent television announced by Lord Hill, chairman of the Independent Television Authority.

In a series of shock decisions, the ITA have made several dramatic changes in the ITV line-up.


Under the new contract set-up. which starts in July 1968:

London’s ITV will get a completely new look.

Television Wales and West loses its contract to a new group called the Harlech Consortium and

In Yorkshire, a new company called Telefusion Yorkshire joins the “big boys” of ITV by winning the contract for that rich county.

Area by area, this is how the contracts have been awarded:

In LONDON, the weekday programmes will be run by a “shotgun marriage” of the present weekday company, Rediffusion, and the present Northern and Midlands weekend contractor, ABC-TV.

London’s weekend programmes, at present run by ATV, will be taken over by a new group called the London Television Consortium, formed by David Frost and Aidan Crawley, M.P.


Because of an ITA ruling against directors of ITV companies appearing in programmes of public controversy, David Frost is not on the board.

But he is a leading shareholder, and will have a decisive part to play in programme policy.

Lord Hill has proposed that the London Television Consortium should accept investment from the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and The Economist.

In the MIDLANDS, ATV will run the programmes for seven days a week.

At present, ATV runs the Midlands Monday-to-Friday programmes.

An ATV spokesman said last night: “We are delighted the Authority have offered this contract to us since this was our choice.

“As we have been the main contractor tor the Midlands for so long, we are glad this association will continue.”

The Harlech Consortium, which takes over TWW’s pitch, has actors Richard Burton and Stanley Baker as directors.

To protect TWW shareholders, 40 per cent of the non-voting shares in the new company will be allotted to TWW.

The NORTHERN TV area will be split into Lancashire and Yorkshire. Lancashire goes to Granada, the “Coronation Street” producers. Telefusion Yorkshire won Yorkshire against nine other applicants.

The ITA has made it a condition of Telefusion’s contract that it offers a chance to take part in the company to leading Yorkshire elements of its nearest rival, a group called Yorkshire Independent Television.

These elements include Yorkshire newspapers and Co-operative societies.

Telefusion Yorkshire’s board includes Lady Gaitskell and Mr. Maurice Macmillan, M.P.

Lord Thomson’s SCOTTISH Television has been re-instated in central Scotland.


But the ITA have ruled that 55 per cent of the voting and non-voting shares held by the Thomson Organisation— “which Is ultimately controlled by Lord Thomson” — must be reduced to a maximum of 25 per cent.

The balance must be disposed of to interests not connected with the Thomson Organisation.

Six regional companies which were unopposed in their areas — Anglia, Border, Channel, Tyne Tees, Ulster and Grampian — have all had their contracts renewed.


So have Southern and Westward, which both beat off challengers for their areas.

Lord Hill said last night: “First, and all the time, we have borne in mind the quality of the programme service which ITV will offer in the new contract period.”

He said that the Harlech Consortium will have to give first consideration to employing TWW employees. And he added: “The same principle will be required in all cases of change.”

David Frost, who will have a big say in London’s weekend programmes under the new set-up, said last night: “We hope to find new ways of attracting mass audiences at peak times.”

He added: “You won’t necessarily see more of me on TV because of this contract.”


TWW chiefs will fight

Television Wales and West chiefs, shocked and bewildered by the ITA decision to axe their company, said last night: “We will fight.”

The directors, who are hoping that pressure of opinion by viewers will force a change in the decision, will hold an emergency meeting today.

The news was broken to the chairman, Lord Derby, in a brief interview with Lord Hill.

Mr. Wynn Roberts, Welsh controller and executive producer of TWW, said: “The people of Wales will be shocked just as we are, and I think their feelings will play a big part in our fight against the decision.”

Explaining the decision at a Press conference., Lord Hill said that in choosing the Harlech Consortium to take over the TWW contract, the ITA decision was not between a good applicant and a bad one, but between a good applicant and one which the authority believed would be a better one.


What the new look will mean to viewers

Lord Hill’s big shake-up of independent television is certainly a shock for some companies. But it will also affect millions of viewers.

In thirteen months —when the big change-over takes place — viewers in many parts of the country will see new programmes and new faces. They may also lose some favourite programmes.

In London, for instance, there will be a new look on weekend programmes when the London Television Consortium takes over from ATV.

This change could mean the end of the popular Sunday night Palladium show and Bernard Braden’s programme.

ABC will no longer run the weekend programmes for the North and the Midlands — and this will almost certainly mean no more Eamonn Andrews shows on Sunday evenings.

Eamonn Andrews may also stop appearing on Saturdays linking the afternoon sport.


There will be other changes on the screens caused by the Independent Television Authority’s decision to exercise tighter control of programmes shown over the ITV network.

More serious programmes will be shown before 10 p.m., and this trend has already started.

Lord Hill deliberately chose a Sunday to reveal the changes to stop Stock Exchange gambling.

It was obvious that there were going to be shocks from the moment he walked into the Press conference room at the Independent Television Authority’s headquarters in Knightsbridge, London.

The microphone he used tape-recorded every word he spoke about the changes.

But he need not have worried about being misquoted. In his best “Radio Doctor” manner, he everything crystal clear.

Why the changes? Lord Hill said: “We want to see more imagination, more expertise, more ideas and new faces. We are seeking better quality for our programmes and we believe these changes will bring in new talent and a new flair.


He emphasised that no one had formally accepted the new contracts. There will be discussions and board meetings first.

But I believe that everyone will accept — because this is the only way to stay in ITV. In terms of advertising revenue, the four biggest companies — Granada, Rediffusion, ATV and ABC — will all lose.

But, since all four have diversified their business interests so widely, it is impossible to say how their overall profits will be affected.

Granada, Rediffusion and ATV will each lose between 30 and 40 per cent, in TV profits. ABC will lose only 20 per cent.

ABCTV and Rediffusion have been asked to merge to run the London weekday programmes.


ABC have big studios at Teddington, Middlesex. Rediffusion operate from Wembley.

The new company which the ITA want formed will have to decide which studio to use.

Teddington studios

The remaining one will then be offered, if the two companies wish, to David Frost and his colleagues in the new London TV Consortium, which will run the weekend programmes. If it is offered, the consortium must accept.

The ITA’s plan to establish tighter control over ITV network programmes will be carried out by setting up a new committee with a powerful, full-time chairman.

All programmes will be shown on the network at the same time. At present, they are shown in some areas on different nights.


There is to be no more “horse-trading” in programmes among the contractors and no more dominance by the Big Four.

Lord Hill said there would be “a much freer exchange of programmes all round.”

At present, many TV programmes are “bought blind” by companies. This is to stop, and the prices paid will be based on production costs.

Companies will also not be allowed to exchange programmes but will have to pay for them.

At the conference. Lord Hill told me: “We think these changes and tightening of administration will improve the overall gloss and quality of ITV.”


Illustrations by DAVE JEFFERY


You Say

7 responses to this article

Paul Mason 23 July 2018 at 12:22 pm

Quote of the century “Just because I got the LWT contract doesn’t mean you’ll see more of me (David Frost). We all know what happened to that promise, don’t we?

Bill Everatt 23 July 2018 at 1:50 pm

Thank you for publishing this. It made fascinating reading, especially as I remember the events from the time quite vividly. I think the TWW quote “The people of Wales will be shocked just as we are, and I think their feelings will play a big part in our fight against the decision.” is spot on.

As a child, I lived in a council estate community north of Bridgend, and we were all very satisfied with TWW. My family and our neighbours were really unhappy with this change. Even more so in the weeks, months and years after Harlech took over. It was felt in our community that the ITA were just plain wrong, and made a massive mistake as Harlech were not a better applicant. We thought they were in fact absolutely awful in comparison, and a “bunch of amateurs,” to quote my late Grandmother. I know several people from our area wrote and complained, they were ignored…

The memories of TWW partly inspired me to go into broadcasting.

The site of their original studios in Pontcanna is now a housing estate, with not even a blue plaque to show the founding contribution they made to UK Television. Fortunately, because of your archive work, the first Television company for the Nation of Wales won’t be forgotten.

Geoff Nash 23 July 2018 at 1:59 pm

“All programmes will be shown on the network at the same time”didn’t quite come about as quickly as the ITA would have liked, there was still some syndication of programmes that would otherwise have been networked right up to the ‘seventies and even into the early ‘eighties, it only really seemed to settle down after the next franchise round.

Westy 23 July 2018 at 5:14 pm

I thought it was just the film series that didnt get network status automatically?

VT stuff got automatic network status didnt it?

Kif Bowden-Smith 25 July 2018 at 1:59 am


Each programme was treated on its costs and no status was conferred automatically. Money was invariably the clinching factor! 🙂

Desmond Drinkwater 25 July 2018 at 11:57 pm

“All programmes will be shown on the network at the same time”

That was the ruling for programs intended to be networked. This change brought about an end to part-networked programs in prime time eg no more ATV London Palladium shows in some regions vs at the same time ABC Mike and Bernie Winters Blackpool shows in other regions.

Outside of network primetime, programs which had not been selected for network transmission continued to be shewn at different times in different regions (eg UFO, Space 1999)

It should be noted that under the tightly regulated ITA system there was significant competition between contractors and a significant requirement to meet public broadcasting obligations.

In the current day free market light touch regulation era which was trumpeted as being opening the market to greater competition, the Channel 3 licences are automatically renewed to the current holder without any competition whatsoever and with absolutely minimal token public service obligations.

Without a certain level of regulation, competition actually decreases due to the formation of cartels and effective monopolies.

What was ironic about the choice of Telefusion for the Yorkshire franchise, was that Telefusion was a Lancashire TV rental company based in Blackpool.

Keith Brown 27 March 2019 at 9:39 pm

As a boy up to the age of 10 I always remember ATV providing the weekend programmes in London up until July 1968 In my mind I always remember Trevor Lucas the man in the hot seat announcing the line up of the weekend evening programmes. You always knew ATV was on air. I soon noticed the change when LWT took over and it was never the same again when ATV was replaced by LWT viewers felt the same when they switched over to BBC in there droves. As Lord Grade stated and in my opinion a very bad error of judgement by the ITA. This includes the merger of ABC and Redifussion in London to form ThamesTV.

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