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15 September 2023

Press advertisement for the new Emley Moor mast

From the Hull Daily Mail on 9 March 1966


A rare piece of 1960s joint advertising by Granada and ABC. The two had regularly done joint pieces in the run up to the launch of ITV itself in the north in 1956, encouraging people to get their sets converted for Band-III reception, but that type of promotion died away pretty quickly once the two were in competition for the north’s advertising spend.

They’re back together here in 1966 in an advert in the Hull Daily Mail (no relation) to big-up the newly rebuilt Emley Moor transmitter. The reason for joint advertising specifically in Hull was simple: competition.

The east of England is famously very flat. That means that a transmitter in, say, Lincolnshire, will cover not only that county but will spread onwards. Band-III VHF transmissions were also pretty stable, so a good picture could be received way out of the intended area.

Meanwhile, a transmitter high in the Pennines near Huddersfield could cover a lot of the West and East Ridings, but to get most of them had to be quite far from the city of Kingston-upon-Hull. And the Pennines themselves, whilst sloping away to the east, caused unexpected blank spots and ghosting.

The picture from the original Emley Moor, intended for Hull, could be far worse than the picture from Belmont, intended for Lincoln. The people of Hull, if they cared about picture quality, were better off watching Anglia from Norwich on Belmont than Granada and ABC from Manchester on Emley Moor. And both cities are very distant from Hull, and very different to Hull, so it’s not like viewers felt they were missing out on a lot of localism by choosing Anglia.

The Independent Television Authority tried to solve this by building a new, much taller mast. That improved the picture at Hull, but Belmont has had a six month headstart on it. Can viewers who tuned away for a better picture be convinced to tune back now?

The answer seems to have been no. And when the new Emley Moor mast collapsed, any viewers who had tuned back were off to Anglia again.

This presented a problem for the new Yorkshire Television. With all due respect to Granada and ABC, and notwithstanding this advertisement, their hearts were not in Hull. They had the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. Hull was nice to have, but not essential.

For YTV, with only Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield, Hull was very much essential. When the UHF network was being planned, the resulting regions were often a slightly different shape. For YTV, they were a hugely different shape. The only place to put a transmitter to cover the south of the Tyne Tees region handed TTT the rich areas of Harrogate and Knaresborough and the north Leeds suburbs. Giving that transmitter to YTV handed them Middlesbrough and Durham and got startlingly close to Newcastle itself, killing Tyne Tees dead.

The solution, which pleased nobody, was for YTV and TTT to pool their advertising operation and then to merge, splitting Bilsdale UHF’s money between them; and for the Independent Broadcasting Authority to hand Belmont to Yorkshire TV, complete with Hull and Lincoln and north Norfolk, making its name something of a misnomer.


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