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Channel Television

Channel Television is a British television station which has served as an Independent Television (ITV) contractor to the Channel Islands since 1962. It has a main studio centre in Jersey, a smaller studio complex in Guernsey and offices in London on the South Bank, near to The London Studios. As well as producing and broadcasting regional programmes, Channel Television is one of four independent ITV companies alongside STV (incorporating Scottish Television and the former Grampian Television), UTV and ITV plc. It is one of only two companies on the network (the other being ITV plc) dealing with programme compliance for ITV Network Limited. Some of the programmes Channel Television takes responsibility for include (or have included) The X Factor, Midsomer Murders and the British Comedy Awards. Typically the compliance department within ITV plc will handle all content produced by its constituent companies while Channel Television takes on independent productions for ITV Network Limited.

History

From the point of view of television coverage, the BBC has always treated the islands as an extension of their South West region, relaying programmes from Plymouth to the islands. (The BBC does now broadcast an opt-out of the regional news bulletin, Spotlight, for the Channel Islands.) However, as the smaller areas of Britain acquired their commercial television channel in the late 1950s and early 1960s, local opinion was that the Channel Islands should have their own franchise.

This posed a problem to the Independent Television Authority as, constitutionally, the Television Act 1954 did not apply to the islands, so the ITA's ability to operate there had to be permitted by means of extending the Act to the islands by means of an Order-in-Council.

Secondly, there was a problem of connecting the islands to the rest of the ITV Network - the solution was to build a relay station on Alderney, the northern-most island, which would then send the network feed from Westward Television and occasionally Southern Television to Channel Television's studio in Jersey; this was initially a problem, because the existence of the relay station meant that Alderney itself could not have a broadcast service from the start of broadcasting, and the local authorities refused to lease land to the ITA for the relay station.

This problem was eventually overcome, and Channel Television went on the air on September 1, 1962 - the penultimate ITV franchise to begin broadcasting (followed by WWN), and serving the smallest population: only about 150,000 people in 54,000 households.

Channel's arrangement with Westward changed over, in 1982, to TSW, the new ITV contractor for the South West; however, in 1986, Channel changed over to TVS, and this continued with Meridian from 1993 onwards. Several acquired afternoon serials running on Channel were disrupted during the switchover from TSW to TVS and the Channel TV Times detailed how they affected viewers. For instance Channel had to miss over 150 episodes of The Young Doctors, the first 9 episodes of Prisoner which had been screened on TVS in 1985, and they had to re-show 83 episodes of Sons and Daughters as TVS were behind TSW.

Due to the need to provide a stronger network feed from the UK, and upgraded studio facilities, the Channel Islands were prevented from receiving colour television, and Channel could only broadcast in black and white until 1976.

The small size of the station, once described as 'television in miniature', while having implications for the profitability of the company, has on the whole been to its advantage: it has an extremely close relationship with its viewership, reflecting daily life and government in the islands, and while not producing large numbers of programmes for the ITV Network at the start of the 21st century, it does produce some five-and-a-half hours a week of programmes for its own area, including the local nightly news magazine Channel Report. This has posed a challenge, as the Bailiwicks are politically separate not only from the UK, but also from one another. Channel also produces the daily children's programme Puffin's Pla(i)ce, now in its 45th year.

Although not widely known, it has been reported that in 2000, amid takeovers of the other licensees by Carlton, Granada and SMG, Channel Television had plans to buy HTV, valuing the company at £450 million. HTV had become available after Granada acquired it as part of United News and Media's broadcasting assets, but were forced to sell it to comply with ownership regulations. Part of the reason why the company was targeted was that Channel's parent company, Media Holdings (the management buy-in group that had taken over the Channel Television Group earlier in the same year), was led by two former HTV executives - Huw Davies (chief executive) and David Jenkins (finance director). In the end, the bid either failed or was abandoned; Granada sold HTV to Carlton and Channel Television itself was sold again, this time to Illiffe News and Media, part of the privately-owned Yattendon Investment Trust.

Strikes and disputes

Channel was the only ITV franchise not to be affected by the technicians' strike in the summer of 1968, as it was understood by all that any strike action would probably put the company out of business. Similarly, it was not severely affected locally by the ITV strike of August-October 1979, when the rest of the ITV Network was blacked out for ten weeks by another technicians' dispute; while the rest of the network was displaying an on-screen caption, Channel Television continued to broadcast twelve-hours-a-day of films and local news bulletins, as well as other programmes from the ITV archives.

Franchise rounds

Channel Television was not challenged for its licence in the 1967 and 1980 franchise rounds; it defeated a challenger for its franchise, CI3 TV, in the 1991 franchise rounds, with a bid of £1,000 (the minimum bid possible). Channel has since kept its franchise and, in 1999, signed contracts (along with the other ITV companies) to keep their franchises for the next ten years.

ITV

Channel, whilst being fiercely independent and regional, has now adopted a variation of the national ITV1 network branding and also shares continuity, due to it receiving a non-clean Meridian feed supplied by ITV plc. While the branding is very similar to regions owned by ITV plc the standard logos are supplemented by the wording 'Channel Television' and pre-recorded local continuity announcements are used at key junctions - including prior to national and regional news and on the handover from GMTV at 9.25am. Typically this is "You're watching Channel Television, ITV in the Channel Islands". It is the only ITV company to take the network branding without being a part of ITV plc.

Compliance controversy

On May 18 2008, the Sunday Times published a newspaper article which described Channel Television's role in compliance for the network as a loophole which enabled ITV to evade a possible fine for breaching OFCOM regulations during the 2005 British Comedy Awards. During the programme Robbie Williams presented an award to Ant and Dec which by rights should have gone to Catherine Tate.

Future

By 2013, the UK plans to complete its five-year process to cease analogue broadcasts region-by-region, with Channel Television being the last area to switch over to all-digital broadcasting. No date has been confirmed for switch over in the Channel region.

Programmes

Notes

External links

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