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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IV. ITV 2 Complementary to and Not Competitive with ITV 1

16.

The 1964 Television Act, in Section 25, requires that where there is more than one ITV service the Authority shall:

ensure that, so far as possible, the same kind of subject matter is not broadcast at the same time in the different programmes.

To some people, the provision of a complementary service is merely the avoidance of clashes as required by the Act. To the Authority, however, a truly complementary second service is one which, as well as being planned to provide alternative types of programme for the viewer at any given time, serves to complete and fill out the range of ITV programmes available. It is one which enables Independent Television to find the elbow-room referred to earlier.

17.

It is possible to conceive of a complementary ITV 2 service provided by a programme company, or group of programme companies, separate from those of ITV 1 and in competition with them for the viewing audience, and therefore for advertising revenue. But in functional terms such an arrangement could not work. For each service would have an interest in looking to the size of its audience at any given time and would be competing not only with the BBC but with the other ITV service. This would be bound to affect the programme content and scheduling of the two ITV services, and to diminish opportunities to screen programmes designed for, say, 10 per cent of the viewers. A better situation would be one where programmes could be planned and scheduled without regard to their relative audiences as between ITV 1 and ITV 2. Thus, if there were a light entertainment programme on ITV 1, it would be better scheduling, in the Authority’s view, if the programme going out on ITV 2 were, for example, an arts or documentary programme, or an experimental programme, of a type likely to please those viewers who would not be attracted by what was on ITV 1. This programming policy points to a system where the two Independent channels are as little as possible in rivalry with each other for the same part of the audience at the same time, although there would be competition on an equal footing with the BBC. If this complementarity between ITV 1 and ITV 2 is achieved, then a wider range of the total audience will be provided with programmes which are to their taste. A self-supporting single service will always find it difficult regularly to screen programmes which it is known will attract a relatively small proportion of the total audience. With two services, the planners will be able to accept the possibility of small audiences at peak time with equanimity, since the audience for the alternative ITV programme need not be substantially affected. There is therefore, in a complementary situation, an inherent, rather than an imposed, reason for scheduling programmes in the way that serves the viewer best; and planners are not tempted to place programmes of mass appeal against each other, since that would diminish the following of both.

Scotsport: Arthur Monford presents up-to-the-minute sports coverage (Scottish)
Gus Honeybun and Roger Shaw read birthday messages (Westward)
Newscasters Andrew Gardner and Reginald Bosanquet (ITN)
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V. The Programme Possibilities

18.

In programme terms there is a whole range of needs which cannot properly be satisfied by Independent Television unless scope for expansion can be provided by means of a second service planned in conjunction with the first. It is true that to a limited degree these needs, or some of them, can be met within the confines of a single service, especially if it is allowed to build up its transmission hours free from the existing restrictions. But viewers and programme makers would increasingly see the restrictions of a single service as depriving them of great opportunities. The alternative— an essential one, in the Authority’s view—is to extend ITV’s public service through a second channel which presents programmes coming from a wider number of sources and catering for a greater variety of viewers’ interests.

HTV outside broadcast

19.

It is time to be more specific about some of the fields in which opportunities would arise:

(i)

It would be possible to deal in greater depth and detail, and more frequently, with current affairs, with arts and sciences, with political, economic, and social issues.

(ii)

In an age of increased leisure, television can support a wide range of leisure pursuits; some of these, like gardening and motoring, have very wide appeal, while many others command smaller followings but equal, or greater, devotion.

(iii)

To travel vicariously, to see what cannot be seen from the windows of home, is a special enrichment that can be enjoyed through television. As more viewers have colour sets, the importance of this will grow; more programmes of this kind in peak time should foster its growth and widen understanding. The relevance of Europe and of European programmes is obvious here.

The Big Match (London Weekend)

(iv)

It is desirable to stimulate the production of programmes of an experimental nature. These are, by definition, impossible to specify in advance. The need for freedom to experiment applies not only to production and writing techniques but also to assessing audience reaction to different types of programmes, whether they be designed to appeal to the mass audience or to particular parts of it.

(v)

Extended coverage would be possible for a number of sporting events of all kinds. The interests of those who like sport often conflict, on a single channel, with the needs of schools or housewives or children or general viewers. Moreover, sports which, though pleasing to watch, have only a limited following cannot easily be shown. Clearly lovers of sport, and haters of sport, are much better served by two channels.

Westward outside broadcast van

(vi)

It is an incentive towards excellence in educational and other serious programme fields if better viewing times are available for some of this output. More viewers should have the chance to see such programmes; more viewers (though possibly never a majority) will want to see such programmes as levels of education rise. There are a number of educational needs (both curricular and informal, for adults and for children) to which television could make a unique contribution, and which are not at present being catered for on any channel. We would wish to explore ways in which the additional capacity provided by an extra service could be used for these purposes.

(vii)

ITV lacks the equivalent of a newspaper’s correspondence column. It has too few opportunities of hearing from viewers, and of conducting some dialogue about television itself and about the job which it is, or should be, doing. Without becoming narcissistic, we should hope that a second channel could enable us to deal more fully with television itself.

(viii)

Much first-class television material goes to waste after a single showing. In a two-channel service there is scope for the planned repeating of worthwhile programmes of all kinds between the two channels.

(ix)

Some of the programmes of the regional companies which are at present excluded from the network, because of too much programme pressure on too few outlets, should have wider distribution; creative staff will then be less drawn to the central companies if regional companies have opportunities for programme making that will effectively challenge their talents. Major centres of regular network programme production already exist in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. There is the production capacity available to add Glasgow, Cardiff and Bristol, Newcastle, Southampton, Norwich and possibly Plymouth to this list. The result would not only be a valuable stimulus to the system: it would also perform a social function, which ITV by its own record has always supported, of countering tendencies that would focus the nation’s life too strongly on the metropolis.

Southern Television staff on the studio floor

(x)

With more elbow-room, ITV would be freer to explore what can be offered by independent programme makers; and to act as patrons to such independents, encouraging, purchasing or commissioning their work.

(xi)

In the particular case of Wales, the introduction of a second ITV service could do much to relieve the tensions which arise at present in attempting to provide a general service and also to serve the special needs and interests of those living in Wales—particularly those who want to have programmes in the Welsh language at good viewing times. Even if the programming of ITV 2 were largely on a national basis, there would be the opportunity for regional opt-outs during which programmes of special interest for Wales and in the Welsh language could be shown. It would also be possible for such programmes to be shown on ITV 1 in the knowledge that an alternative programme was available on ITV 2. All this is quite apart from the availability of the ITV 2 channel during the daytime and in the early evening when it would generally not be transmitting ITV 2. For we are assuming that ITV 2, like BBC 2, would be mainly an evening and weekend service.

These and other opportunities could be met by a second ITV service which would complement and supplement the output of ITV 1, with numerous common junctions, so that a choice could be offered in accordance with Section 25 of the Act.

Gordon Burns reports (Ulster)

20.

Complementary planning of a two-channel ITV service is not just a question of calling a new channel into existence to redress the balance of the old. ITV 1, as it now exists, to a great extent already provides as balanced a service as can be expected from a single channel which is financed solely from the sale of advertising time. Some 30 to 35 per cent overall of the average weekly output is classified as serious, and this figure excludes all drama of whatever kind. In broad terms the essential elements of ‘proper balance’ already provided in the single service are (a) adequate daily bulletins of national news; (b) political programmes; (c) social programmes; (d) documentary programmes; (e) cultural programmes (i.e. the arts, history, science); (f) religious programmes; and (g) educational programmes for schools and adult audiences. Programmes in most of these categories are already to be found in the evening hours.

21.

The Authority does not envisage the arrival of a second channel leading to any significant change in this balance on the first channel. Consequently, if ITV 2 is to be a genuine counterpart to ITV 1, with a view to both channels together catering for a wider spectrum of tastes and interests, then it would follow that a substantially higher proportion of its programmes than of those on ITV 1 would be classified as serious. More important, perhaps, it would be able to show a much higher proportion of its serious output in peak time. All this does not mean to say that ITV 2 should predominantly contain programmes of minority appeal. It would be the Authority’s intention that both its services should have their own forms of balance and range. In the case of ITV 2, there would be advantage in a variety of programme elements so that the audience would be carried forward from diverting programmes to more demanding ones.

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IX. A New Programme Planning Board for the Network

30.

The first change would be an organizational one. The Authority has so far adopted the view that the requirements of Section 5 of the Television Act call for it to be represented at the later and more general stages of the companies’ scheduling meetings. Regular meetings also take place of the Programme Policy Committee, under the chairmanship of the Authority and with the companies’ chief executives and programme controllers present, at which important matters of broad programme policy are discussed. The Authority has not, however, attempted to control in the earliest stages the programme planning of the system.

31.

In a two-channel situation (and not least with the requirements of Section 25 of the Act in mind), the Authority considers that a Programme Planning Board should be responsible for all aspects of ITV network planning and scheduling. Such a Board might comprise three members of the ITA staff (one as the Chairman of the Board, and the two ITA programme planners), five controllers from the central companies, and three controllers from the regional companies. The secretary of the Board would be a member of the ITA staff and the Board would be serviced by the ITA in conjunction with the existing ITCA Network Programme Secretariat. Local programming would continue to be the responsibility of each company individually.

The Post Office Tower, London - hub of Britain's telecommunications networks

32.

The function of the Board would be to oversee all programme planning and scheduling for the ITV network. It might well not itself undertake all the detailed planning for incorporating the output of up to sixteen companies into two services; but, in formal terms, those involved in such planning would be doing so as agents of the Planning Board, to whom they would report. The arrangement proposed would broaden the present structure of the company programme controllers’ committee and would leave the companies’ creative momentum as the primary source of specific programme ideas; but it would also provide a strong ITA presence at the centre of the system and enable the ITA to survey, at an early stage, the full range of what was available, or potentially available. Thus the Authority’s involvement in the organization of ITV’s network output would not only take the form of mandating programmes and receiving schedules for consideration, as now, but would also include discussion of scheduling at an earlier stage: the full Authority’s means of exercising this oversight would be unchanged, since its senior staff would continue to be answerable for what was planned to it and to the committee (the Programme Schedule Committee) which gives special consideration to this part of the Authority’s work.

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1971 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM