Double eye for the dual region 

15 December 2023 tbs.pm/79932

Embossed cover of the ATV Midlands brochure

 

ATV MIDLANDS LTD

 

The Company

ATV Midlands Limited is a new company formed specifically to apply for the IBA Contract in the East and West Midlands from 1 January 1982 onwards. The company draws on the experience in television broadcasting of ATV over 25 years and has broadened its Midlands base to include a number of distinguished people in the community as members of the Board of Directors.

The Directors

Chairman and Managing Director Lord Windlesham PC
Vice Chairman (East Midlands) John Madocks CBE, DL*
Vice-Chairman (West Midlands) Sir David Perris MBE, JP*
Director of Programmes Charles Denton
Director of Finance Cliff Baty
Director of Sales Peter Mears
General Manager (West Midlands) To be appointed
General Manager (East Midlands) Jeremy Taylor
Special Drama Executive Cecil Clarke MBE

 

Directors with special regional responsibilities

– The Potteries/Staffordshire Richard Bailey CBE*
– Derbyshire Martin Boissier DL*
– Leicestershire G L Fyfe*
– Oxford/South Midlands Ann H Spokes*

 

*The names of the non-executive Directors are marked with an asterisk.

 

Map of the dual region

 

ORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE

The non-executive Directors, whose names are indicated by an asterisk, are each persons of standing in the, areas indicated beside their names. Between them they are geographically representative of the constituent parts of the franchise area and are associated with a wide range of interests over the region as a whole. Two Directors will be Vice-Chairmen, one for the West Midlands and one for the East Midlands. Together these six members of the Board will represent community interests and will have a powerful voice in all matters concerning the policy and direction of ATV Midlands.

Each of the Directors of ATV Midlands will be resident in the Midlands in the new contract period (with the exception of the Director of Sales and the Special Drama Executive). All executive Directors will be full-time. The Chairman and Managing-Director will have his office in Birmingham, as will the Director of Programmes and the Director of Finance. Finance, Sales and Engineering will be central functions with the senior executives answering to the Chairman and Managing-Director.

There will be an executive Director acting as General Manager at the ATV Centre in Birmingham with a specific responsibility for the West Midlands operation. There will also be a General Manager, on the Board, in charge of a planned new East Midlands Television Centre. The two General Managers will have a separate responsibility for the conduct of the company’s operations in each part of the dual region. They will report direct to the Chairman and Managing-Director. They will be expected to maintain regular contact with the respective Vice-Chairman of the Board who will advise on all external matters. During the development stage of the East Midlands Television Centre the appropriate General Manager will work closely with the Vice-Chairman (East Midlands).

We see these relationships as an important means of ensuring that the company is responsible to local opinion and issues throughout the region. Below Board level there will be a Studio Controller answerable to the General Manager, and a Head of Local Programmes answerable to the Director of Programmes, located at each studio centre. The departmental programme heads will be directly responsible to the Director of Programmes. We plan for drama, entertainment, sport, documentaries and factual programming, educational and religious programmes to be produced either at the ATV Centre in Birmingham or at the East Midlands Television Centre. ATV Midlands believes that creative programme resources should be spread over both centres and not specifically tied to one or other location.

The Sales Department will remain in London with regional sales offices in Birmingham and the East Midlands. These will be linked by computer to the central sales operation and staffed by sales representatives with a mandate to service the needs of local advertisers. The Director of Sales and the main Sales Department need to be in London since 90%-95% of all television advertising revenue is booked through London advertising agencies. This is the common practice throughout Independent Television.

 

DOUBLE EYE FOR THE DUAL REGION

ATV’s familiar symbol of the double eye has become particularly appropriate for the newly designated dual region in the East and West Midlands. In Birmingham ATV already has a major centre, including three production studios, and these facilities will be expanded as necessary so that the total programme requirement of ATV Midlands, amounting to some 20 hours each week, can be produced within the region.

In the East Midlands a large scale development is planned. A study of the distribution of population, the economic activity and communications network indicated that the premium location lay within the triangle between Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. This also has the advantage of good access for the other two counties of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and excellent communications with the West Midlands. After a survey and detailed examination of specific sites, and taking into account the environmental, employment and political considerations, ATV Midlands approached the local authorities in the area to discuss obtaining a site of approximately 10 acres at Chilwell where the Central Ordnance Depot is being run down with the loss of a considerable number of jobs. Officials at both the County and Borough Councils have welcomed the approach, and have said they are prepared to recommend their respective Authorities to support the early release of land for this purpose by the Ministry of Defence. A proposal has now been put to the Property Services Agency of the Department of the Environment which will be acting on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

The selected location is approximately equidistant from Nottingham and Derby (8 miles) and readily accessible from Leicester (19 miles) by way of the M1, with Junction 25 only two miles away. The creation of the East Midlands Television Centre at Chilwell should go some way to sustaining the economic and social well-being of an area which is concerned over the loss of jobs at the Ordnance Depot.

ATV’s existing staff will have prior claims on filling vacancies at the East Midlands Television Centre. Subject to negotiations with the appropriate trade unions, however, and in conformity with agreed recruitment procedures, a new development of this order should be a considerable stimulus to the economy of the area; thus generating jobs, as well as offering the possibility of direct employment for skilled and semi-skilled personnel from the immediate locality.

If there are difficulties over the timing of the release of land at Chilwell, which is possible, the Nottinghamshire County Council has indicated that it would be prepared to help secure an alternative site in the same general area to the west and south of Nottingham. Additionally, other possible sites, not in local authority ownership, are under consideration.

This will be a major and costly development. The cost of the land, buildings and technical equipment is likely to amount to some £20 million [£81.6m in today’s money allowing for inflation – Ed]. In order to produce the full range of programming, including some of the drama and entertainment shows for network showing which are currently produced at Elstree, we envisage three full-sized studios and one small news/presentation studio. The largest of the total of six studios to be operated by ATV Midlands in the new contract period will be a 9000 sq ft [836m²] studio with extensive seating for audiences to be built at the East Midlands Television Centre. Staff numbers are expected to be of the order of 900 in Birmingham and 600 in the East Midlands Centre (excluding the Sales and Accounts Departments).

Architects’ drawings have been commissioned for the East Midlands Television Centre and these are attached as appendices to the main contract application. A perspective drawing is included at the end of this booklet. Despite the preparatory work which has already been done, ATV Midlands does not believe there is any possibility of the East Midlands Television Centre being fully operational before the end of 1982. We are ready to mount a building programme without delay the moment the Authority’s decision is known but in all-candour we feel bound to make this point now without any equivocation if realistic plans are to be made for the future, by the Authority as well as by the company. In the interim we intend to contract that part of ATV Midlands’ production which cannot be handled at Birmingham to Elstree Television Centre. In this period Elstree will give ATV Midlands’ requirements priority over other users within its available capacity.

 

 

ELSTREE TELEVISION CENTRE

Since it was opened in 1962, when ATV held a franchise from the ITA to provide programmes in the London area at week-ends, Elstree has been one of the best known production centres in British television. High technical and artistic standards have earned the studios a fine reputation overseas and many programmes shown throughout the world have been produced by ATV at Elstree.

Now, in view of the IBA’s requirements for the dual franchise operation in the East and West Midlands, it has been decided that the Midlands operation and Elstree should be separated. Until the end of the current contract period in December 1981, ATV Network will continue to operate from Elstree as well as Birmingham, but thereafter ATV Midlands will be solely based in the Midlands. The Elstree studios will be retained by a company called Elstree Television Centre Limited. Both companies will be wholly owned subsidiaries of ACC, but without any overlap in Board membership or senior management. Francis Essex and Dennis Basinger have chosen to remain as the senior management at Elstree. They will form the nucleus of the Board of Directors of Elstree Television Centre. Lord Grade, who included Elstree in his title, will act as Chairman of the ACC subsidiary with Jack Gill as Deputy-Chairman. Among the benefits this will bring is the confidence that will be given to Elstree staff in a very difficult and uncertain period.

We have discussed with the other major ITV companies the possibility of using the Elstree studios, which are an important asset to ITV as a whole, as a collective production centre for the additional programming likely to be required for the Fourth Channel. Should this prove to be a practicable proposition the studios might be leased to a jointly owned operating company. Elstree Television Centre can be expected to seek to widen the basis of its business by attracting overseas producers, advertising agencies and other potential users of television studios. Moreover, it should be capable of providing many, if not all, of the production facilities being sought by independent producers in connection with the Fourth Channel. Elstree could also provide a base for breakfast-time television and a separate application has been submitted to the IBA.

 

FINANCIAL STRUCTURE

ATV Midlands Limited, a company with its registered office at the ATV Centre, Birmingham, has an authorised, issued and fully-paid capital of £100 divided into 100 Ordinary shares of £1 each. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Associated Communications Corporation Limited (ACC). The capital of ATV Midlands Limited will be increased by the issue of such numbers of shares of suitable classes as may be appropriate to enable the terms and conditions of any contract awarded by the Authority to be fulfilled. It is inherent in the company’s application that ATV Midlands, in the same way as ATV Network at present, is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACC. The Board of ACC is only prepared to finance the substantial investment on this basis.

 

MAIN SHAREHOLDER AND OTHER ENTERTAINMENT INTERESTS

The parent company, Associated Communications Corporation, is one of Britain’s largest and most successful groups in the field of entertainment and leisure. Apart from television, its activities include film production and distribution, both in Britain and the United States; cinemas; records and cassettes; theatres, theatrical costumiers and scenery construction; music publishing; telephone answering services; insurance; property investment and management. Further details are contained in the main contract application and in the published annual reports and yearbooks.

The outstanding performance of the Corporation as a dollar earner overseas has led to three Queen’s Awards for Exports, while two subsidiaries have also received individual awards for export achievement. A high proportion of its diversification has been in the entertainment industry. In recent years ACC has invested particularly heavily in film production and distribution, activities which draw on many of the same creative and technical resources as television. The substantial contribution made by ACC in maintaining employment in these areas has been acknowledged by the trade unions.

The Chairman and Chief Executive of ACC is Lord Grade, with Jack Gill as Deputy-Chairman and Deputy-Chief Executive and Louis Benjamin as Joint Deputy-Chairman. Norman Collins, the original founder of ATV and one of the men primarily responsible for the introduction of Independent Television in 1954, is also a Director of ACC. Lord Grade and Mr Collins both retired from the Board of ATV Network in 1977 on reaching the age of 70. Lord Windlesham is a member of the ACC Board of Directors and has a whole time responsibility for the management of ATV Network. This will remain the position with ATV Midlands. He has no management responsibilities for any other ACC subsidiaries.

It is not the policy of the ACC Group to integrate any of the activities referred to above with the television company. They will continue to be kept separate in the future. ACC recognizes the sensitivity of the position where a subsidiary company holds a programme contract from a public Authority and will take especial care to ensure that no conflict of interest is allowed to arise. ACC will also guarantee the editorial independence of ATV Midlands.

 

 

PROGRAMME POLICY AND INTENTIONS

The policy and intentions of the programme-making departments of ATV Midlands will be to entertain and stimulate, inform and educate the widest possible audience. We believe we have a valuable opportunity to communicate at many different levels with audiences that are local and regional, national and international. We further believe that the re-structuring of ATV within a wholly Midlands context can provide the impetus to overcome the drift towards overfamiliarity and sameness which now threatens much of television output in the United Kingdom.

ATV Midlands intends to use both existing and brand new production facilities — some of the most modern in the world — to enable us as broadcasters to share with the viewer a belief that watching television can be much more than a passive and transient occupation. At best such shared viewing can provide a focus for the feelings of a community, a source of illumination on a complex international issue or — much more simply — a flow of lively entertainment in the home. To achieve this aim ATV Midlands will give full support to both regional and network production.

Programme output will rest on the twin foundation stones of a West and an East Midlands production centre, and on the physical basing of all production personnel within the region. Our policy is to provide for a proper balance between the various types of production and to realise that constant emphasis on the classification of these types is of more concern to companies and the IBA than it is to the viewer. We should strive not to allow ourselves to be inhibited by the familiar and convenient labels ‘Documentary’ or ‘Drama’ or ‘Light Entertainment’ and might then recognise the attraction for an audience of a play with music and choreography, a comedy which relies on character rather than situation, and a documentary depending on emotional involvement as well as factual evidence. Independent Television has grown into a massive industry, yet it must defeat the inevitable pressures of scale towards blandness and uniformity.

 

PROGRAMME PLANS

Because ATV has had the benefit of being a central network contractor for a number of years it is possible to be specific in the description of departmentally classified output, although the dangers inherent in this convenient system have already been mentioned.

Over any one year in the new franchise period ATV Midlands’ output for the major ITV Channel is likely to take the following form:

Output expressed as a percentage of transmitted hours assuming

Regional 60% (12 hours)
Network 40% (8 hours)

with a further breakdown of annual network output by time into: —

Drama 160 hours 39%
Light Entertainment 65 hours 16%
Documentaries & Factual 70 hours 17%
Childrens 65 hours 16%
Education & Religion 50 hours 12%
TOTAL 410 hours  
  (or 7.88 hours per week)

Quantitative analysis by programme types is easy, but the nature of such output needs to be specified, together with the programme attitudes which underlie it. However, it is producers who make programmes, and a programme philosophy will often be the distillation of the various programme ambitions of particular individuals. It is in the gathering together of such individuals that what could be regarded as a philosophy in any particular programme area is defined, and it is in the right mixture of these groups of individuals that a company develops a distinctive programme stance.

 

PROGRAMMES FOR THE DUAL REGION

Sixty percent of ATV Midlands’ production will be for transmission in the dual region and we therefore believe it important to mention present achievements and indicate plans for the future within the context of the dual franchise.

ATV TODAY provides at present almost four hours of news and news feature material from the region each week, with a team of 28 journalists and six full-time news film units on the road each day. We anticipate considerable further expansion of this unit within the dual franchise, together with the establishment of dedicated electronic newsroom facilities based on multiple E.N.G. (Electronic Newsgathering) units in both West and East Midlands.

LEFT RIGHT & CENTRE provides political reporting to the region under the experienced supervision of ATV’s Political Editor. A full-time production team and Parliamentary lobby service work for this regular weekly programme, and in the new dual franchise we are planning for a separate East Midlands edition.

REGIONAL DOCUMENTARIES will continue to be based on themes found throughout the region, and it is our intention to maintains yearly output of 24 half-hour films to be shown in peak viewing time.

SPORT. ATV is renewing its OB units with some of the most modern equipment available. This will allow the existing production team to continue to build mainstream coverage of major sports such as soccer and racing, and at the same time to use their specialised knowledge of angling, motor-racing, water-sports, darts, showjumping and so on to provide a complete sports coverage. The dual region provides our sports team with expanded transmission opportunities.

All the above programmes will cover events and personalities in the East Midlands as well as the West Midlands.

 

PROGRAMMES FOR THE COMMUNITY

A broadcaster’s aim is to reflect the needs and aspirations of the whole of the community. Paradoxically this is not always possible to achieve through programmes designed for general appeal, and this has led to the development of several types of programme labelled, inadequately and variously, as ‘Access’, ‘Community’ or ‘Public Service’. ATV has done a lot of work on developing programmes for the community in recent years. For example: —

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS (PSA’s) have been broadcast by ATV since August 1978. Since then more than fifty organisations have had a total of over 500 transmissions of announcements designed to be of service to the community. The PSA scheme, run in partnership with Councils for Voluntary Service and the Junior Chambers of Commerce, has become an accepted and valued part of ATV output.

LINK — since 1975 broadcast regularly as the first continuous series of television programmes specifically for and about all handicapped people. LINK will in years to come maintain its stance regarding the integration of disabled people into society.

GETTING ON will continue to deal with the problems and pleasures of growing old.

As an extension of its programming for the community ATV will in Autumn 1980 set about the difficult task of providing a continuous series for Asian immigrants. This new programme will — like LINK, PSA’s and GETTING ON — be based upon consultation and co-operation with those it intends to serve. It will be produced and presented by ZIA MOHYEDDIN.

 

 

PROGRAMMES FOR THE NETWORK

Some forty percent of ATV Midlands production will be designed for network showing throughout the country. Experienced television executives are responsible for each of the main categories.

DRAMA

Under DAVID REID the Drama Department will aim to reach the widest possible audience through a variety of narrative dramatic forms. For many people television drama is the only form of ‘life as represented by art’ that is open and accessible to them. The drama policy of ATV Midlands will be to encourage subject matter and treatments which lead to enjoyment and enrichment in the audience.

LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

Under JON SCOFFIELD we will be searching for new forms of entertainment programmes. We accept that the talent source represented by traditional music hall has virtually dried up, and believe that the task now must be to find writers, performers and producers who know that the old forms are in decline and accept this as a challenge. Our Light Entertainment Department will aim to bring pleasure, relaxation and enjoyment to the mass audience.

EDUCATION

ATV has been refining its education output for twenty one years, and will maintain its development under PHILIP GROSSET in the new franchise period.

We believe that this is particularly important at a time when severe cutbacks in other educational resources combine with an increasing need to meet changing demands.

DOCUMENTARIES

The Documentary Department, under RICHARD CREASEY, will continue to employ the finest documentary film-making talent available, and at the same time offer opportunity to newyoung film-makers. Well-known film-makers like ADRIAN COWELL, BRIAN MOSER, ANTONY THOMAS and KEN LOACH are all engaged on projects for the future, and know that they have support from the company now as in the past. We intend to build on this happy tradition.

EARTHWATCH – A novel proposal

In the forthcoming franchise period ATV Midlands plans to establish — under ADRIAN COWELL — a new and unusual concept in specialised programme making: THE EARTHWATCH TRUST. The aim of this institute will be to provide quality programmes on matters of worldwide environmental concern. A separate unit, possibly situated at ATV’s Oxford base, could supply material for both ITV-1 and the Fourth Channel, and could well provide a more flexible structure for specialist film-making. The Earthwatch board of management will comprise working producers, cameramen and editors, together with ATV’s Head of Documentaries and Director of Programmes.

 

THE FOURTH CHANNEL – AIMS AND EXPECTATIONS

ATV Midlands hopes to make a contribution to programming in all areas of the Fourth Channel, subject always to satisfactory arrangements for programme supply and the central requirements of maintaining programme strength in the present ITV system. From an early stage in the new contract period we will be concentrating all ITV-1 facilities in the Midlands. This will be a major undertaking, and we therefore think it sensible to plan to make use of part of the Elstree Television Centre facilities for the production of our programme contribution to the Fourth Channel. No further expansion of studio facilities is envisaged for Channel Four.

It cannot be denied that in the long and tortuous debate over the creation of a Fourth Channel some of the original enthusiasm for the new service has been dissipated. It is now the task of the Authority and the companies to try and and recreate a sense of enthusiasm and opportunity, and ATV Midlands is prepared to play its full part in this task. With determination and professional management the advent of a new service should serve to heighten programme standards across the whole industry, and help to open minds and opportunities throughout ITV.

 

STUDIO, OUTSIDE BROADCAST AND FILM FACILITIES

Reference has already been made to the scale of the proposed development in the East Midlands. At the ATV Centre in Birmingham there are 3 main production studios, plus two 4-camera outside broadcast units (currently being replaced), one 1-camera location recording unit, and one 1-camera remote unit. Full details of technical equipment are included in the main contract application.

Film facilities are extensive and are likely to be expanded in the Midlands in the new franchise period. It is possible that up to 150 hours a year of programming on film would be produced by ATV Midlands. This might require as much as 30 editing suites, twenty film crews (staff and freelance), two or three viewing theatres, film transfer and film dubbing. Much of this, however, will be influenced by the way E.N.G. (Electronic Newsgathering) operations are introduced and also by the balance that will need to be struck in the requirements of producers for studio or film production facilities.

 

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

Our approach to industrial relations, or staff relations as it is known in ATV, is to combine regard for the structure and procedures set out in national agreements with the development of cost-effective and flexible arrangements to suit the actual operations. Without complacency about the significance of important longer term issues that exist and will arise no doubt in the future ATV can point to a record of no more than occasional interference with transmission and production, apart from national stoppages.

The main arrangement for consultation and involvement of staff rests on half-yearly open forum communications meetings involving about 80 management and union representatives at each production centre, and meetings for discussion and regular consultation and negotiation between management and the two joint shop stewards committees. These formal arrangements complement a long-standing practice developed over the years of more informal discussions between management and union representatives, including also the non-staff organisations.

Every month the Board of Directors receives a detailed report on national and local industrial relations activities. Every fortnight the main Management Committee, which includes the executive Directors, reviews at length industrial relations developments. This subject is also a regular item on the agenda of the management committees at both centres. Day to day industrial relations ate the responsibility of a Head of Staff Relations who is assisted by six specialists in industrial relations, training personnel, administration and welfare. This will continue to be the practice in the future and we are already discussing a possible pattern for consultation and negotiation with staff based at each centre in the dual region.

 

TRAINING

In 1968 ATV was the first in ITV to appoint a Training Officer. Since then the training function has expanded with an extra specialist in training recently appointed. During the years 1977-1979 ATV recruited a total of 78 employees as trainees each of whom received a structured course of nine months or more. In the same period 302 members of the staff attended external technical, management, operational and other courses of varying lengths, while 440 attended courses within the company on a similar range of subjects. Detailed statistics are included in the main contract application.

 

 

SUMMARY

In support of this application it is asked that the following matters be borne in mind: —

the long association between ATV and the Midlands region as a whole. We have been broadcasting five days a week from the inception of Independent Television in the Midlands in 1956, and for seven days a week in the current contract period from 1968-1980.

the establishment of a major production centre in Birmingham, supported later by news and information centres in Nottingham and Oxford. These have been in addition to the company’s existing studio centre at Elstree which was opened in 1962 during the period when ATV held the week-end contract in London.

the progressive increase of production in the Midlands, especially in the coverage of regional news and current affairs. This is now the largest single spending programme department.

the fact that ATV has been able to attract and retain programme-makers of the front rank and to resist editorial pressures from outside interested parties.

To meet the Authority’s requirements for the dual region in the East and West Midlands a new company, ATV Midlands Limited, has been formed. It draws on the experience in television broadcasting of ATV over 25 years and has broadened its Midlands base to include a number of distinguished people in the community as members of the Board of Directors.

Two of these Directors will act as Vice-Chairmen of the Board. They will have a particular responsibility for representing interests in the East and West Midlands respectively.

Two General Managers (both members of the Board of Directors) will have a separate responsibility for the conduct of the company’s operations in each part of the dual region. They will be directly responsible to the Chairman and Managing-Director of ATV Midlands.

A major new production centre, costing an estimated £20 million, is planned in the East Midlands.

Programmes of all kinds: drama, entertainment and education as well as news and current affairs, will be produced at the East Midlands Television Centre as well as the ATV Centre in Birmingham.

Elstree Television Centre will be operated in the future by a separate company having no connection with the Midlands franchise holder.

Associated Communications Corporation, the parent company, will provide financial stability and the necessary resources for ATV Midlands. It also guarantees the editorial independence of the new company.

It is on the basis of these plans for the future, supported by a consistent programme record over the last 25 years, that ATV Midlands submits this application to the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

 

Architect's drawing of a big glass building

Finished perspective drawing of THE EAST MIDLANDS TELEVISION CENTRE

 

This booklet contains a summary of the full application made by ATV Midlands Limited to the Independent Broadcasting Authority for Independent Television Contract C: East and West Midlands.

It is being distributed to all members of the staff of ATV Network Limited and is also available to the public on request. Copies can be obtained free of charge from Audience Relations Department, ATV Centre, Birmingham B1 2JP.

 

You Say

2 responses to this article

Maxwell Bogie 15 December 2023 at 9:59 pm

ATV Midlands presentation is fun! It was great to see it. This is a better one too! Thanks.

Richard Jones 16 December 2023 at 10:26 pm

With the exception of Elstree becoming unviable & passing to the BBC in 1983 its amazing how after ATV MIDLANDS morphed into Central Independent Television hoe much of this document became reality however no one saw the takeover of ACC coming in 1982.

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