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Associated British Corporation

Associated British Corporation

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Associated British Corporation (otherwise known as ABC Television or ABC Weekend Television) was one of a number of commercial television companies established in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during the 1950s by cinema chain companies in an attempt to safeguard their business by becoming involved with television which was taking away their cinema audiences.
In this case, the parent company was the Associated British Picture Corporation
Associated British Picture Corporation
Associated British Picture Corporation , originally British International Pictures , was a British film production, distribution and exhibition company active from 1927 until 1970...

 (ABPC), which initially did not wish to become involved with the new broadcasting system, but were persuaded to do so by the Independent Television Authority
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

 (ITA) and the manager of their Pathé News
Pathe News
Pathé Newsreels were produced from 1910 until the 1970s, when production of newsreels was in general stopped. Pathé News today is known as British Pathé and its archive of over 90,000 reels is fully digitised and online.-History:...

 subsidiary Howard Thomas
Howard Thomas
Howard Thomas CBE was a Welsh-born British radio producer and television executive.-Early career:Thomas began his career typing invoices for a firm of wire-drawers in Manchester. While doing that job, he taught himself to write newspaper articles and short plays...

, who became the new company's managing director.

History


When Kelmsley Winnick, one of the consortia
Consortium
A consortium is an association of two or more individuals, companies, organizations or governments with the objective of participating in a common activity or pooling their resources for achieving a common goal....

 that had been awarded a franchise
Exclusive right
In Anglo-Saxon law, an exclusive right is a de facto, non-tangible prerogative existing in law to perform an action or acquire a benefit and to permit or deny others the right to perform the same action or to acquire the same benefit. A "prerogative" is in effect an exclusive right...

 in the new Independent Television
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 network in 1954 collapsed, the ITA
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

 approached ABPC to step into the breach. Accordingly, the Corporation agreed to assume the franchises to broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays to the Midlands and the North of England. The contract agreeing to do so was signed on 21 September 1955, the day before Independent Television (ITV) began in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.

This gave the new ABC five months to begin broadcasting in the Midlands, the service beginning on 18 February 1956. Soon afterwards, they were also up and running in the North - they began broadcasting there for the first time on 5 May 1956. They were aided in part by the failure of the original contractor; Kelmsley-Winnick had ordered over £1 million (2008 equivalent:£18.8m) of production equipment from manufacturer Pye which they sold to ABC at a much discounted price.

The 1968 Contract Round


Structural changes in the regional contract areas meant that ABC no longer had a contract to re-apply for. The Northern area (renamed Lancashire) became a seven-day operation as did the Midlands. Existing weekday contractors (Granada
Granada Television
Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

 and ATV
Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

 respectively) were correctly considered the favourites. ABC consequently submitted two applications: one for the service for London at the weekend, the other for the Midlands seven-day operation although they favoured the first contract.

It was expected that ABC would be awarded the London at the weekend licence but the strength of another application (from the London Television Consortium
London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television was the name of the ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties including south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Warwickshire, east Dorset and...

) ruled this out. This led to a situation where a successful company could be closed down through no fault of its own; to prevent this the governing body of ITV, the Independent Television Authority
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

, ordered a merger with the existing London weekday company Rediffusion
Associated-Rediffusion
Associated-Rediffusion, later Rediffusion, London, was the British ITV contractor for London and parts of the surrounding counties, on weekdays between 1954 and 29 July 1968. Transmissions started on 22 September 1955.-Formation:...

, with ABC having majority control of the new operation.

Despite protests from Rediffusion the two companies eventually became Thames Television. ABC Weekend Television ceased weekend broadcasting in the North and Midlands regions on the 22nd July 1968, and resumed on the 30th in the London region as weekday company Thames.

Studios



ABC operated three production sites and had a further sales office. The main production facilities were the former Warner Studios located at Teddington
Teddington
Teddington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London, on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park...

, Middlesex
Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

. Although outside of their contract area, ABC operated a London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 base as many celebrities couldn't venture outside of the capital to record programmes as they were often starring in theatre plays in the West End
West End of London
The West End of London is an area of central London, containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings, and entertainment . Use of the term began in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross...

. Upon the merger with Rediffusion
Rediffusion
Rediffusion was a business which distributed radio and TV signals through wired relay networks. The business gave rise to a number of other companies, including Associated-Rediffusion, later known as Rediffusion London, one of the first companies to win a terrestrial ITV franchise in the UK...

 this site became the main production base for the new company Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

 and is still in use as an independent facility, Teddington Studios
Teddington Studios
Teddington Studios is a large British television studio complex located in Teddington, South-West London, providing studio facilities for programmes airing on BBC television, ITV, and Channel 4 along with others...

.

ABC operated a northern studio centre, converted from a former Capitol cinema in Didsbury
Didsbury
Didsbury is a suburban area of the City of Manchester, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Mersey, south of Manchester city centre, in the southern half of the Greater Manchester Urban Area...

, Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 and a sales office based in Television House in the centre of the city. Following the merger the studios were leased to Yorkshire Television
Yorkshire Television
Yorkshire Television, now officially known as ITV Yorkshire and sometimes unofficially abbreviated to YTV, is a British television broadcaster and the contractor for the Yorkshire franchise area on the ITV network...

 in 1967 for recording pre-launch programming whilst their own studios were being constructed and in 1970 was sold to Manchester Polytechic
Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester Metropolitan University is a university in North West England. Its headquarters and central campus is in the city of Manchester, but there are outlying facilities in the county of Cheshire. It is the third largest university in the United Kingdom in terms of student numbers, behind the...

 and was the base for their theatre and television school. After moving to the University's All Saints campus, the site was demolished in 1996 to make way for blocks of flats.

In the Midlands they formed a joint venture with Midlands weekday licensee ATV
Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

 to oversee the running of a production and transmission facility to be used by both. Alpha Television
Alpha Television
Alpha Television was a British limited company which operated television studios in Aston, Birmingham.- History :The company was formed in 1956 as a co-venture between two newly-created Independent Television companies, ATV and ABC Television...

 purchased a former cinema in Aston
Aston
Aston is an area of the City of Birmingham, in the West Midlands of England. Lying to the north-east of the Birmingham city centre, Aston constitutes an electoral ward within the council constituency of Ladywood.-History:...

, near Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and extended it by the construction of additional studios and office space; the site was known as the Alpha Studios.

During 1968 ABC vacated the premises as a result of its move to London. Faced with high costs for converting the studios to colour production ATV opted to build new studios in the heart of Birmingham, subsequently named Alpha Tower
Alpha Tower
Alpha Tower is a commercial building in Birmingham, England. It was built to a design by George Marsh of Richard Seifert & Partners as the headquarters of the commercial television company ATV and part of the companies' production studio complex known as ATV Centre...

. During 1970 they also left the site and Alpha Television went into voluntary liquidation and the site sold. In 1974 the commercial Independent Local Radio
Independent Local Radio
Independent Local Radio is the collective name given to commercial radio stations in the United Kingdom. The same name is used for Independent Local Radio in Ireland.-Development of ILR:...

 station BRMB
Brmb
brmb is a local radio station based in Birmingham, UK, owned and operated by Orion Media. The station broadcasts on 96.4 FM, DAB Digital Radio in the West Midlands and online...

 bought the centre and converted it into a radio station, remaining there until the late 1990s. The original cinema has since been demolished but the additional office space still remains.

Identity


When ABC first went on the air, they utilised the successful branding of their sister company ABC Cinemas. This featured a triangular shield with the letters ABC upon it, and a bar across it with the caption 'Television'. This lasted from the stations launch in 1956 until c.1958. The ITA had criticised ABC's original presentation style for being bland and too much attached to the existing ABC Cinemas brand.

As a result, ABC created a new brand ident featuring three arrows pointing to the bottom of the screen to reveal the letters ABC in turn and leaving a triangle behind and ontop of the letters. At the end of this, the three triangles would snap together into the new ABC logo. This ident lasted until 1964 when the lettering font was altered slightly from a serif font to the latest bold used by the company, with the latest revision used until the company's end.

The logo uses the notion of threes, three triangles making another triangle, with the points of a triangle often being labelled 'A', 'B' and 'C' in geometry. The tune that was used for all of ABC's idents was a xylophone playing 'la-te-doh' (or 'A-B-C' on the tonic sol-fa
Tonic sol-fa
Tonic sol-fa is a pedagogical technique for teaching sight-singing, invented by Sarah Ann Glover of Norwich, England and popularised by John Curwen who adapted it from a number of earlier musical systems...

). Out of this look, ABC Television developed a strong corporate identity, effectively becoming the first British TV station to recognise the importance of corporate branding.

The company itself was called Associated British Cinemas (Television) Limited, however on exports and some continuing productions for Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

, the name Associated British Corporation was used. As for on-air, the name was for a few months Associated British, before becoming ABC Television and in the latter four years being accompanied by ABC Weekend Television. This however was always abbreviated to ABC. The station also received a joke nickname from Bob Monkhouse
Bob Monkhouse
Robert Alan "Bob" Monkhouse, OBE was an English entertainer. He was a successful comedy writer, comedian and actor and was also well known on British television as a presenter and game show host...

, namely All Bloody Commercials.

The stations slogan varied through time, starting off as ABC - Associated British Corporation in the North/Midlands before being replaced in 1958 to ABC, your weekend Television and again changed in 1964 to ABC, your Weekend Television in the North/Midlands.

Programming


Networked programmes from ABC included the drama series Police Surgeon, The Human Jungle
The Human Jungle
The Human Jungle is a British TV series about a psychiatrist, made for ABC Weekend Television by the small production company Independent Artists and screened by the ITV Network...

, Redcap
Redcap (TV series)
Redcap is a British television series produced by ABC Weekend Television and broadcast on the ITV network.It starred John Thaw as Sergeant John Mann, a member of the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police and ran for two series and 26 episodes between 1964 and 1966, being about...

, The Avengers
The Avengers (TV series)
The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series set in the 1960s Britain. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel and his assistant John Steed . Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants...

, the Armchair Theatre
Armchair Theatre
Armchair Theatre is a British television drama anthology series, which ran on the ITV network from 1956 to 1974. It was originally produced by Associated British Corporation, and later by Thames Television after 1968....

anthology series, the cartoon epic Habatales, the popular shows Thank Your Lucky Stars and Oh Boy!, the children's science fiction program Emerald Soup
Emerald Soup
Emerald Soup is a British children's science fiction television series. Produced by ITV, the series ran for seven episodes from November 9, 1963 to December 21, 1963 on the Associated British Corporation network...

, plus the gritty dramas Callan
Callan (TV series)
Callan is the title of a British television series set in the murky world of espionage. Originally produced by ABC Weekend Television and later Thames Television, it was aired on the ITV network over four seasons spread out between 1967 and 1972...

and Public Eye (both of which continued as Thames productions after 1968).

See Also

  • Associated TeleVision
    Associated TeleVision
    Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

  • Granada Television
    Granada Television
    Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

  • Associated Rediffusion
  • ITV
    ITV
    ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

  • History of ITV
    History of ITV
    The history of ITV, the United Kingdom "Independent Television" commercial network, goes back to 1954.-The early years: 1954–1963:After much debate both in the British Parliament and the British Press, the Television Act became law in 1954...


External links