Brearley opens, but Chataway’s in the running 

19 July 2021

For the breakfast TV plum, that is.



Evening Express masthead

From the (Aberdeen) Evening Express for 9 May 1980

TV PERSONALITY Alan Whicker and England cricket captain Mike Brearley are both helping to plan breakfast TV for Britain.

They are in a planning team formed by the Daybreak Television consortium, one of the contenders for the breakfast TV contract being considered by the IBA.

Backing the consortium are Trafalgar House, through its subsidiaries Express Newspapers and Morgan Grampian, the Great Universal Stores mail order and retail group, Lord Grade’s Associated Communications Corporation, through its ATV subsidiary, and others.

It was not clear whether Mr Whicker would become a shareholder or appear on the breakfast screens.

Consortium chairman is Sir Leo Pliatzky, former Trade Department Permanent Secretary and a non-executive director of Lord Grade’s company.

Express, Morgan Grampian and ACC each have 15% shareholdings and Great Universal stores 17.5%

Sir Leo said the new company, if successful, would use ACC’s Elstree studios.

It would have £1 million [about £5.5m in today’s money, allowing for inflation] voting capital, plus guarantees for a further £5 million [£26m] in non-voting preference and loan stock to cover total projected spending.

He said “We will aim for intelligent, fair-minded and lively programmes. We will not be going in for confrontation for confrontation’s sake.”

He stressed that the editorial team would be “separate and independent” from Express Newspapers.




Former MP Christopher Chataway, who is now a banker, heads a rival application [AM Television – Ed].

The Chataway group is backed by Pearson Longman, the publishing arm of the Pearson Group, which includes the “Financial Times.” Pearson, which will have 20% of the company, said it was particularly attracted by the prospects for breakfast TV.

Another breakfast-time contender, Daytime TV, today lodged its application claiming “a genuinely now approach to television.”

The board includes two women, Baroness Trumpington, the chairman, who is UK delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and Mrs Shreela Flather, a member of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Also on the board is Sir Arthur Sugden, chief executive of the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

Founder shareholders include the Post office staff pension fund, the Industrial and General Finance Corporation, BPC, the printing group, a UK subsidiary of Philips, the Dutch electrical giant, the “Liverpool Daily Post and Echo,” and Exchange Telegraph.

If the consortium wins the contract, each would take a 10% shareholding.

At present the consortium has six directors, but the intention is to have a 12-member board.

Programme plans call for more “alternative news” including such topics as health, education, pollution and environment. It would also seek to be sensitive to minority issues.

And aiming at “an atmosphere of informality and good humour” it plans to use a programme set in the form of a living room rather than a conventional news studio.

Thames Television, headed by Lord Barnetson and Nigel Ryan, also hope to win the breakfast franchise.



A group headed by Peter Jay, son-in-law of Labour leader James Callaghan, and including Michael Parkinson, Robert Kee and David Frost, today applied for the IBA contract for breakfast television.

Peter Jay, chairman of TV-AM, said: “The basic idea behind this application is that the people who make television programmes can and should be the people who provide the enterprise and direction to launch breakfast television successfully in Britain.

“Eight of our ten founders are people who come from the front-end of the business and who are active in making and presenting television programmes.

“Beside the four named, TV-AM has recruited four other men and women whose names are being supplied to the IBA.”

Thames TV are not applying for the national breakfast franchise.

Instead, it was supporting ITN’s application to provide an early-morning programme, said Mr Bryan Cowgill, Thames’s managing director.


The following section is commentary from Transdiffusion's expert writers

Russ J Graham writes: Okay, let’s start with the obvious: just how badly this article is written and/or sub-edited. I can’t decide if it’s a hack job editing together three or four press releases, or a much longer article cut down to fit the space provided.

Notable howlers include Schrödinger’s Thames, both applying for and not applying for the contract depending on whether you’re looking at them or not, and TV-am having three big names that are confidently announced as four.

That aside, it’s interesting to work out what the programme plans presented to the IBA were based on the description of each group. Daytime TV would appear to be trying to be the forthcoming Channel 4, and are the group most obviously aimed at women viewers.

Daybreak TV’s description appears to be a bit of a mess, which is also what the IBA seemed to think. ITN’s was all about news, as you would expect, and got similar disdain from the Authority.

Pearson had long been looking to get into television, which it finally managed by investing in the financial black hole that was BSB, then swooping in on the remnants of Thames when they lost their franchise. Their offering appears to lean heavily on the Financial Times, suggesting an up-market business and news service that seems unlikely to have prospered.

That leaves TV-am and Peter Jay’s impressively arrogant statement. The Authority had previous form in not liking applicants, incumbents or newcomers, waltzing in to the franchise interviews and telling them they’ve been doing television wrong all this time and they’re there to set things right. Such attitudes did for Rediffusion in 1967 and would be part of what would go wrong for Southern Television in December.

But Peter Jay managed to convince the IBA that he was right, and TV-am won the contract.

He was wrong.

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