However, the winner of one of the contracts, the Associated Broadcasting Development Company (also referred to as the Kelmsley/Winnick consortium) had insufficient funds to start broadcasting, so ITC was brought into the consortium and Lew Grade came to dominate it.
ITC continued as a subsidiary of the new company - originally entitled Associated Broadcasting Company but soon renamed Associated TeleVision (ATV) after threats of legal action from fellow ITV company ABC - and produced its own programmes for ATV and syndication in the United States. It also distributed ATV material outside of the UK.
The initials 'ITC' stood for two different things - Independent Television Corporation for sales to North and Latin America, and Incorporated Television Company for sales to the rest of the world. The American Independent Television Corporation was formed as a joint venture with Jack Wrather in 1958. In September 1958, the Independent Television Corporation purchased Television Programs of America (TPA) for $11,350,000. Wrather sold his shares of Independent Television Corporation to Lew Grade at the end of the decade.
The large foreign sales achieved by ITC during the British government's exports drives of the 1960s and 1970s led to ATV (and its parent company from 1966, Associated Communications Corporation) receiving the Queen's Award for Export on numerous occasions.
ITC got its start as a production company when former American producer Hannah Weinstein approached Lew Grade. Weinstein wanted to make a programme called The Adventures of Robin Hood. Weinstein proposed making the series for ITV and simultaneously marketing it in the United States through an American TV distribution company, Official Films. The series was a big success in both countries, running from 1955 until 1960.
Although most of the ITC series were produced in Britain, ITC often worked with Television Programs of America (TPA) and several series were filmed in America. Possibly the earliest ITC series produced in the US was Fury a Saturday morning live action series starring Peter Graves about a beloved ranch horse which ran on NBC in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1964 Gerry Anderson's AP Films became part of ACC and produced the hugely successful children's series Thunderbirds and, under its successor company Century 21 Productions, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. ITC also funded Anderson-created programs aimed at the adult market, including UFO and Space: 1999. It was at ITC's request that Fanderson - the Gerry Anderson Appreciation Society - was founded. Another ITC children's series was The Adventures of Rupert Bear, the first television outing for the Daily Express cartoon character.
As well as television programming ITC also produced several films - including On Golden Pond, Capricorn One, The Eagle Has Landed, The Boys from Brazil, The Return of the Pink Panther, Sophie's Choice and a number of Jim Henson Company productions: The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppet films - The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. It was also behind Franco Zeffirelli's Biblical mini-series Jesus of Nazareth and the Gregory Peck TV movie The Scarlet and the Black.
The company's most notorious production was the 1980 film Raise the Titanic which almost sunk the production company as costs escalated, principally around the extensive Titanic scale model. The film recouped only a fraction of its costs, and ITC's profile never recovered. Grade himself retired from active film production, commenting with the Jewish chutzpah he was renowned for, that it would have been cheaper to "lower the Atlantic".
The production logo featured three diamonds, with the letters of the company placed in each one. For international markets, an animated opening logo was added - featuring the logo followed by the word "PRESENTS", and accompanied by a fanfare. This music was composed by Jack Parnell, initially appointed ATV's musical director in 1956. There were several variations on this animation. One included a compass which gave way to a large diamond with a world map, which - in turn - gave way to the three diamonds of the logo. Another logo featured three spinning diamonds (nicknamed the "Space Diamonds" or the "Rainbow Spinning Top") in red, green and blue. The ITC logo appeared in white on top of the coloured diamonds, and the lettering "FROM (ITC logo) ENTERTAINMENT" appeared. In the US, this logo preceded showings of the 2nd season of whereas it followed showings of The Muppet Show. In Britain, The Muppet Show had an animated ATV logo at the start. The final ITC animation featured a variation on the logo, actually spinning within itself, in gold. See the 'External Links' section for a video of the various ITC animated logos.
Today, the underlying rights are owned by Granada International, although Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer now owns theatrical distribution rights--ironically, MGM owns Without a Clue outright due to the studio's acquisition of original distributor Orion Pictures. Home video distribution in North America to a majority of the ITC library is handled by Lionsgate under license from Granada.
However, there are few exceptions to the theatrical library. One ITC production, The Dark Crystal, is now owned by The Jim Henson Company, with theatrical distribution rights handled by Universal Pictures (the film's original distributor). Two other films, The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, have full rights owned by the Henson company (including theatrical, television, and home video distribution, the latter component shared with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). Some ancillary rights to The Return of the Pink Panther are now held by Universal's Focus Features division, although original distributor United Artists still owns the copyright, as well as theatrical distribution through MGM due to the latter studio's distribution rights to the ITC film output.
As for ITC's television output, Carlton (and later Granada) released some of these shows on DVD both in Europe and North America. There were however a few exceptions: The Adventures of Robin Hood and the other swashbuckling adventure series of the late 1950s and early 1960s were released on DVD by Network Video, as was Strange Report.
Many of the cult drama shows from the 1960s and 1970s have since been released by Network as limited edition box sets, the most recent being Danger Man (as of August 2007). The only ITC show yet to be released by Network is The Protectors. The rights to The Muppet Show, however, are held by The Muppets Studio LLC (formerly The Muppets Holding Company), a wholly owned part of The Walt Disney Company, with North American and UK home video rights controlled by Disney.
The ITC Distributions page offers a complete list of ITC produced and distributed programs.
ITC Entertainment Group. (acquires TV distribution rights from PSI Partners and Enquirer/ Star Group) (Brief Article)
Jan 17, 1994; ITC Entertainment Group has acquired the distribution rights to ENQ: Secrets of the National Enquirer from PSI Partners and the...