I. General Considerations

1.

Television is the most popular of leisure activities, and in many ways the most powerful. Demands of all kinds are made upon it—and rightly: that it should entertain, divert, and interest us (all fifty million of us) when we want relaxation; and that it should enlarge our range of knowledge, experience, and awareness, so that we grow as individuals and as members of society.

HTV Outside Broadcasts van

2.

To do all this demands a balance of the most delicate kind, as a broadcasting service seeks both to entertain and to contribute something to our experience and knowledge. If it tries only to please, it is only using part of the medium’s potential. If it tries only to contribute and to educate, then again, whatever praise it may gain from the critic, it is wasting a great opportunity; for those who have fewest other resources for equipping themselves with wider and deeper interests will switch away. A competitive climate strengthens the broadcaster’s will to connect with large audiences through entertaining and interesting them; a climate where there is some shelter from competition strengthens his power to contribute.

Granada's studios

3.

If it wants to strike a balance successfully, a broadcasting service needs both a competitive stimulus and the knowledge that it does not have to compete all the time and at each point of the output. If it is to combine recreation and public service for a very wide range of viewers, it needs elbow-room. The BBC, to the advantage of us all as listeners and viewers, has the elbow-room which comes from a multi-channel operation both in radio and television; the Government of the day, in authorizing BBC 2, called it “one directly effective way of giving the viewer a choice of different types of programme, including more programmes of an educational and informative nature, or drawn from regional sources”. To provide a more extensive range of service to the viewer, we ask that Independent Television should be given comparable freedom.

Grampian's studios

4.

The Authority seeks this freedom because it has a duty to provide television broadcasting services as a public service for disseminating information, education and entertainment. With this duty placed upon it, the Authority must, whenever it thinks it desirable to do so, put forward suggestions for improving the quality and range of the service it can offer. At the present time, it is suggesting to Government that it can make such improvement possible in two ways: by removing outside restrictions on the length of time during which Independent Television can be on the air, and by the authorization of a second service. These two approaches have a single and similar aim, the broadening of ITV’s range. A derestriction of hours would be of immediate advantage, since it could take effect without any need to wait for fresh transmitters to be built. Its benefits, though substantial, would however not apply to all viewers, but to those who find themselves able to watch television during the day. A second service would enable the programme range to be extended at the times when it matters most—the main evening hours. Both of these changes seem to the Authority most desirable if it is to implement fully the duty laid on it by Parliament—the running of a high quality television service which exploits to the full the potential of the country’s principal mass medium.

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III. The Case for a Second ITV Service

13.

The case for the introduction of a second service is based upon the programming restrictions which must exist in a single service. The Authority is charged by Section 1(4) of the Television Act to provide “a public service for disseminating information, education and entertainment” and to secure “a proper balance and wide range” in the subject-matter of the programmes; but it is obvious that, within the confines of a single service, there cannot be as wide a representation of the tastes and interests of the audience as a whole, and those of the various groups within it, as there can be with two jointly planned services. This was true of BBC 1, which was a service that did not have to earn its own living. The introduction of BBC 2 provided an opportunity for a large widening of programme range in BBC television, and a comparable widening could be secured in Independent Television.

Thames Television's Teddington studios

14.

Any single general television service must be restricted in the programmes which it can show at the times when most people can watch. Purely on a temporal basis, this must be so; for, except at weekends, the normal maximum viewing span of most working adults is limited to four or five hours from 6-7 o’clock to 10-11 o’clock. In that time, in a single service, there is not scope to cover much more than the staple fare of television; light entertainment shows, plays, series and serials, comedies, sport, news, current affairs, and documentaries. A single self-supporting service can be adventurous within limits, but not beyond.

15.

Independent Television is one of the most potent forms of communication and enjoys a huge daily audience. Just as we would deprecate a public library system or an organisation of the cinema or the theatre which was unable to provide a wide range of material for its users, so we can say that television is weakened if it cannot cater well for different needs; the operation of a second ITV service would do much to solve this problem and would widen horizons, provided it was operated so as to extend the range of existing television programming.

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1971 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM