This gave the new ABC five months to come on air in the Midlands, the service launching on 18 February 1956. Soon afterwards, they were also up and running in the North - they went on air there for the first time on 5 May 1956. They were aided in part by the failure of the original contractor; Kelmsley-Winnick had ordered over £1 million (2008 equivelent:£18.8m) of production equipment from manufacturer Pye which they sold onto ABC at a much discounted price .
ABC's original presentation style was criticised by the ITA for being bland and too much attached to the existing ABC Cinemas brand. Taking this criticism to heart, ABC Television developed a strong corporate identity, effectively becoming the first British TV station to recognise the importance of corporate branding. Its new animated logo showed three triangles joining up to form a bigger triangle (in geometry the points of a triangle are often labelled 'A', 'B' and 'C'), accompanied by a xylophone playing 'la-te-doh' (or 'A-B-C' on the tonic scale).
Networked programmes from ABC included the drama series Police Surgeon,The Human Jungle, Redcap, The Avengers, the series of one-off plays in ABC's Armchair Theatre, the pop shows Thank Your Lucky Stars and Oh Boy!, plus the gritty dramas Callan and Public Eye (both of which continued as Thames productions after 1968).
Weekend franchises were scrapped - except in the London area - in the 1967 round of franchise renewals. ABC then looked further afield, pinning its hopes on the London weekend franchise, although they also picked the new Midlands seven-day contract as a second choice.
Within their constituency ABC operated a northern studio centre, converted from a former Capitol cinema in Didsbury, Manchester. They also had a sales office based in Television House in the centre of the city. Following the merger the site was leased to Yorkshire Television in 1969 for recording pre-launch programming whilst their own studios were being constructed and in 1970 was sold to Manchester Polytechic. The site was demolished in 1996.
In the Midlands they formed a joint venture with Midlands weekday licensee ATV to oversee the running of a production and transmission facility to be used by both. Alpha Television Limited purchased a former cinema in Aston, near Birmingham and extended it by the construction of additional studios and office space; the site was known as the Alpha Studios.
In 1968 ABC vacated the premises as a result of its move to London. Faced with high costs for converting the studios to colour production ATV opted to build new studios in the heart of Birmingham, subsequently named Alpha Tower. In 1970 they also left the site and Alpha Television went into voluntary liquidation and the site sold. In 1974 the commercial Independent Local Radio station BRMB bought the centre and converted it into a radio station, remaining there until the late 1990s. The original cinema has since been demolished but the additional office space still remains.
Thames Television in turn lost its franchise in the 1991-2 round of franchise renewals, although the company continues to exist as an independent programme producer, now a part of the FremantleMedia Group and known as talkbackTHAMES.