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A History of Independent Television in Wales

A History of Independent Television in Wales

Jamie Medhurst
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    A History of Independent Television in Wales
    Book Description:

    This book provides, for the first time, a detailed historical narrative and critical analysis of independent television (ITV) in Wales. Focusing primarily on the critical years of the 1950s and 1960s, and drawing on key archival sources from Wales and beyond, it locates the history of ITV within wider debates over national identity, language and culture in Wales.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2308-3
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Explanatory notes
    (pp. viii-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Since the mid 1950s, Independent Television (ITV) has entertained, educated and informed the Welsh television audience. It has provided innovative and often pioneering programming and has ensured a degree of plurality within the media in Wales. It has brought ground-breaking programming across a range of genres to homes across the nation and has provided creative opportunities for programme-makers. Now, all this is changing.

    On 19 May 2009, the Welsh Conservative Party’s spokesman on heritage in the Welsh Assembly, Alun Cairns, argued that the recent restructuring at ITV Wales, which had led to the disappearance of the title and role of...

  6. 2 The Pre-history of Independent Television in Wales
    (pp. 15-32)

    The aims of this chapter are twofold: firstly, to contextualise the emergence of Independent Television (ITV) in Wales by tracing the development of broadcasting in Wales from the advent of radio broadcasting in the 1920s until the early years of the 1950s, and to place this within the context of contemporary debates about the need for the recognition and representation of Wales within UK broadcasting; secondly, to outline the emergence of the ITV service in the UK and Wales, noting the political, economic and cultural debates surrounding its introduction.

    There are three phases in Welsh broadcasting history, prior to the...

  7. 3 Television Wales and the West, 1956–1963: Organisation and Control
    (pp. 33-60)

    This chapter traces the history of Television Wales and the West (TWW) from its inception and award of licence in 1956 until the end of 1963. In addition to a study of the company’s institutional history, the chapter considers the relationship between TWW, the ITA and the government. The period between 1956 and 1963 witnessed the ‘rolling out’ of the ITV service across the UK as new transmitters were opened and new regions created. It also saw the transformation of the commercial service from one which struggled initially to one which, in Roy Thomson’s now infamous phrase, was a ‘licence...

  8. 4 Television Wales and the West, 1956–1963: Programming and Critical Issues
    (pp. 61-75)

    This chapter studies TWW’s programming and audiences during its first contract period, discussing issues such as scheduling, programming decisions, the programmes broadcast and audience responses. The company not only produced its own particular brand of programming for Wales and the west of England, but also carried the ITV network’s popular programming to the region. In Welsh-language programming, TWW pioneered quiz shows and magazine-style programmes, and also provided programmes for learners of the language. The second part of the chapter is a thematic section on the critical issues that dominated TWW during the period between 1956 and 1963. One of the...

  9. 5 Wales (West and North) Television, 1956–1962: Formation and Control
    (pp. 76-111)

    This chapter focuses on the history of Wales (West and North) Television (WWN), or Teledu Cymru, as it was known in Welsh. It places the history of the company within the wider debate over nationhood and the struggle for representation, for it is the history of WWN which exemplifies this more than that of any other ITV company. Unlike TWW, WWN emerged as the result of a coordinated campaign led by cultural and political groups in Wales, and in many ways WWN can be seen as an answer (albeit a partial one) on the part of the government and ITA...

  10. 6 Wales (West and North) Television, 1962–1963: Operation, Programming and Demise
    (pp. 112-128)

    This chapter considers the operation of WWN by looking at three areas: staffing, finance and technical issues. These three have a major role in explaining the demise of the company in 1963. The penultimate section looks at WWN programming, noting in particular the debates around the scheduling of Welsh-language programmes, and the concluding part of this chapter seeks to provide reasons for the failure of the company. The reasons for the demise and financial collapse of the company in 1963 were complex and raise a number of issues about the relationship between ITV, the government, the BBC and the Post...

  11. 7 Television Wales and the West, 1964–1968: Operation and Programming
    (pp. 129-146)

    This chapter considers the company’s second contract period, between 1964 and 1968. During this time TWW provided a service for the whole of Wales in addition to the west of England, following the demise of WWN. The period, however, signalled the beginning of the end for the ITV contractor. Increasing criticism from the ITA on a range of issues primarily concerned with programming dogged the company, and in 1967 the company lost its licence to a rival consortium, led by Lord Harlech. The chapter begins with a chronological narrative of the period and then moves on to a consideration of...

  12. 8 Television Wales and the West: The End of the Road
    (pp. 147-168)

    The second contract period, between 1964 and 1968, was one of mixed fortunes for TWW. Profits remained high, locally originated programmes remained popular and there was a certain viewer loyalty to the company within the area. TWW were seen as ‘saviours’ in 1964 for rescuing the doomed WWN. Yet, by the middle of June 1967, the company had lost its licence as an ITV contractor. There is no one reason to explain the loss, but this chapter will consider a number of critical issues which contributed to the company’s downfall.

    One of the main characteristics of the second contract period...

  13. 9 ITV in Wales, 1968–1997
    (pp. 169-179)

    This chapter traces the history of ITV in Wales and, by default, that of Harlech Television/HTV from 1968 until 1997, when HTV was taken over by United News and Media. Due to restrictions on access to material (see chapter 1), the chapter takes a very broad overview of developments during the forty-year period and focuses on the key issues that dominated the history of ITV in Wales in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, in turn. The overarching issue during the 1970s was a campaign for a separate Welshlanguage channel, spearheaded by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, but...

  14. 10 Postscript
    (pp. 180-183)

    I would like to return to the five themes laid out in the introductory chapter and draw some conclusions from this study of the history of independent television in Wales.

    The tension which exists within the ITV companies between a public service remit and the pressures of the commercial sector has created problems over the years for independent television in Wales. Writing in 1979, in response to criticism from the Welsh Language Society, the Director of Programmes at HTV Wales, Aled Vaughan, admitted that HTV was indeed a commercial company, ‘and therefore we are obliged to pay our way, and...

  15. Endnotes
    (pp. 184-220)
  16. References
    (pp. 221-228)
  17. Index
    (pp. 229-236)