Factsheet 1966: The Independent Television Authority 

9 August 2018 tbs.pm/66439

Parliament created the Authority in August 1954 for ten years, and then extended its life for another twelve years to 1976. Its function, as defined by the 1964 Television Act, is to provide public television services of information, education and entertainment.

The Authority accordingly:

  • Builds, owns and operates transmitting stations (30 stations cover 97 per cent of the population; additional relay stations are being built to improve or extend coverage).
  • Selects and appoints programme companies (14 companies have been appointed in the ITA’s 13 areas, obtaining their revenue from the sale of advertising time and paying a rental to the ITA; a levy, based on net advertisement revenue, is paid to the Exchequer).
  • Controls the programmes (ensuring that they are in accordance with the Television Act, including the accuracy of news, impartiality in matters of controversy, balance in subject matter, and the maintenance of good taste).
  • Controls the advertising (ensuring that in frequency, amount and nature advertisements accord with the Television Act and the rules and principles laid down by the Authority).

The Authority comprises a Chairman, a Deputy-Chairman and eleven Members. They are distinguished persons from different walks of life and are appointed by the Postmaster-General. All serve in a part-time capacity. Three of the Members have as their special care the interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The present Chairman is Lord Hill of Luton, appointed on 1st July 1963.

The Authority has a staff of about 650, of whom 230 are administrative and technical staff at headquarters, 370 engineers and others at the transmitters and 25 regional staff (the Authority has regional offices in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Carlisle, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Norwich, Plymouth, St. Helier, and Southampton).

The Authority is aided by advisory committees on which serve many distinguished and representative people. In addition to a General Advisory Council and Scottish, Northern Ireland and Welsh Committees, the following deal with specific subjects: Advertising Advisory Committee (plus Medical Advisory Panel); Central Appeals Advisory Committee (plus Scottish Appeals Advisory Committee); Central Religious Advisory Committee (plus Panel of Religious Advisers and Scottish Religious Advisory Panel); and Educational Advisory Council (plus Schools Committee and Adult Education Committee).

The programme companies under contract with the Authority until July 1968 are:

ABC Television (Midlands and North of England, Saturdays and Sundays); Anglia Television (East of England); ATV Network (London on Saturdays and Sundays, Midlands on Mondays to Fridays); Border Television (The Borders); Channel Television (Channel Islands); Grampian Television (North-East Scotland); Granada Television (North of England on Mondays to Fridays); Rediffusion (London on Mondays to Fridays); Scottish Television (Central Scotland); Southern Independent Television (Central Southern and South-East England); TWW (Wales and the West of England); Tyne Tees Television (North-East England); Ulster Television (Northern Ireland); and Westward Television (South-West England).

National news bulletins for all areas are provided by Independent Television News, a non-profit-making company, in which all the programme companies are shareholders.


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