625 - Andrew Wiseman's Television Room

ITV's Identity Crisis
Part 2 - Consolidation

Created Fr 3-Jan-03
Revised Tu 20-Jun-06

By August 2001 when ITV had renamed itself ITV1, all of the franchises for England and Wales were in the hands of just two companies, Carlton and Granada. They realised that by working more closely together, they could cut the costs of running the channel. In 2002, they got rid of regional announcers, replacing them with a single team of voices in London.

All regional identities were now relegated to appearing only before regional programmes, with two companies not even being allowed that privilege...

What happened to ITV's regional identity?

On Monday 28th October 2002, ITV1 unveiled a brand new on-screen look. Viewers outside of the Scottish, Grampian and UTV regions, would no longer see the usual name and logo of their regional ITV company. These would be replaced by a short film featuring one of ITV's many celebrities staring at you.

Were all the regional names been abandoned?

The Anglia, Border, Carlton, Channel, Granada, Meridian, Tyne Tees, and Yorkshire names continued to be seen before regional programmes such as news bulletins.

What about LWT?

In London, the LWT and Carlton identities were replaced by a single ITV1 London brand. Unlike for the other regions, programmes for London used the same pre-programme graphics as the national schedule. Only the continuity announcement would identify that you were watching ITV1 for London.

What about HTV?

Apart from HTV News, the HTV brand was killed off on ITV. In the West regional programmes would now begin with an ITV1 West of England ident.

In Wales, all programmes (not just those for Wales) would have the celebrity idents before them, but with a special ITV1 Wales badge taking the place of the standard ITV1 logo.

Why has the HTV name been killed off?

Probably because brand owners, Carlton, wanted to continue its plan of "avoiding confusion" with the plethora of names appearing on screen. Remember when Central and Westcountry went in 1999, Carlton claimed: "It doesn't make sense any more for ITV to have 15 different names all around the country... The current situation with programmes 'made by Carlton, presented by Central and shown on ITV' is confusing." Which is bizarre, because previously in Wales, HTV News would be an HTV production presented by HTV. No confusion there. But now HTV News is a Carlton production on ITV1 Wales.

What about UTV?

In Northern Ireland, UTV decided to use some of the celebrity idents and add some of their own, but UTV replaced the ITV1 logo with their own.

What about Scottish and Grampian?

The new look, using the new 'tiles' graphics and the celebrity theme but keeping the region names, was adopted by the Scottish Media Group on Monday 6th January 2003.

Where have the familiar announcers gone?

In the Anglia, Border, Carlton, Channel, Granada, London, Meridian, Tyne Tees, West of England and Yorkshire regions, all the announcements would now come from London. The regional announcers' jobs were made redundant to save costs and a new national team was set up instead. Regional announcements still existed before regional programmes, but these were simply pre-recorded by members of the national team.

I thought the Govt. had promised to protect regional identities?

I thought so too. In her speech to BAFTA in June 2002, The Culture Minister, Tessa Jowell, said: "There has been speculation that ITV companies, on a course as they are for ever-more consolidation, will move away from their regional identities and their regional commitments... Let me take this opportunity to stress how inaccurate those views are... Regional character matters. We will look to Ofcom to defend it with vigour."

With regional identity all-but buried, we would have to wait until 2005 to see how vigorously Ofcom would defend ITV's regional commitments...


ITV1's new graphics for 2002 (4K)

1. Carltonisation

In part one, Carlton kills off Central and Westcountry TV.

2. Consolidation

In part two, the further erosion of ITV's regional identities as a re-brand is introduced.

3. Unification

In part three, fewer hours of regional television and Grampian TV is history.

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