ITV Granada (previously known as Granada Television) is the Channel 3 regional service for North West England, the licence for the region being held by ITV Broadcasting Limited since November 2008. Previously it was held by Granada Television which was founded by Sidney Bernstein and based at Granada Studios since its inception, and which was the only surviving company out of the original four Independent Television Authority franchisees from 1954 before it merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004. It covers Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, northwestern Derbyshire, part of Cumbria and North Yorkshire, and from the 15th of July 2009, the Isle of Man (even though it is not part of England).
Broadcasting by Granada Television began on 3 May 1956 under the North of England weekday franchise and was marked by a distinctive northern identity.Granada plc merged withCarlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004 after a duopoly had developed over the previous decade. The Granada name, as with those of the other former Channel 3 regional licence holders, has completely disappeared except for the regional news bulletins and weeknightly regional news magazine as ITV Broadcasting Limited operates the service with national ITV branding and continuity.
The North West region is regarded as ITV's most successful franchise, and The Financial Times and The Independent once described Granada Television, the former franchise holder, as 'the best commercial television company in the world'. Nine Granada programmes were listed in the BFI TV 100 in 2000 and some of its most notable programmes include Coronation Street, Seven Up!, The Royle Family, The Jewel in the Crown, Brideshead Revisited, World in Action, University Challenge and The Krypton Factor. Past employees include Paul Greengrass,Michael Apted, Mike Newell, Jeremy Isaacs, Andy Harries, Russell T Davies and Leslie Woodhead. The northern operation of ITV Studios is currently based in the former Granada Studios onQuay Street in Manchester, but many productions have already made, or are making, the transition to new studios at MediaCityUK.
Granada Television, a subsidiary of Granada Ltd, originated in Granada Theatres Ltd, which owned cinemas in the south of England, founded in Dover in 1930 by Sidney Bernstein and his brother Cecil. The company was incorporated as Granada Ltd in 1934 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1935; Granada Theatres Ltd became a subsidiary of the new company. It is named after the Spanish town, Granada.
The Bernsteins became involved in commercial television, a competitor to the cinema chains. Bernstein bid for the North of England franchise, which he believed would not affect the company's largely southern-based cinema chain. In 1954, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) awarded Granada the North of England contract for Monday to Friday, with ABC, serving the same area on weekends. The companies used the ITA's Winter Hill and Emley Moortransmitters covering Lancashire and the West and East Ridings of Yorkshire, including the major conurbations around Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Doncaster.The North and London were the two biggest regions. Granada preferred the North because of its tradition of home-grown culture, and because it offered a chance to start a new creative industry away from the metropolitan atmosphere of London ... the North is a closely knit, indigenous, industrial society; a homogeneous cultural group with a good record for music, theatre, literature and newspapers, not found elsewhere in this island, except perhaps in Scotland. Compare this with London and its suburbs—full of displaced persons. And, of course, if you look at a map of the concentration of population in the North and a rainfall map, you will see that the North is an ideal place for television".—Sidney Bernstein on why he decided to form Granada Television in Manchester in 1954.
Bernstein selected a base from Leeds and Manchester. Granada executive Victor Peers believed Manchester was the preferred choice even before executives toured the region to find a suitable base. Granada Studios, designed by architect Ralph Tubbs, was built on a site on Quay Street in Manchester city centre belonging to Manchester City Council bought for £82,000.
Transmissions began in Lancashire on 3 May 1956, and Yorkshire six months later. The opening night featured Meet The People hosted by Quentin Reynolds and comedian Arthur Askey. Reynolds became inebriated before the broadcast and had to sober up.
Most ITV franchisees viewed their territories as mere stopgaps before winning a coveted London franchise. In contrast, Granada determined to develop a strong northern identity — northern voices, northern programmes, northern idents with phrases such as Granada from the north, From the north—Granada and Granadaland. Bernstein refused to employ anyone not prepared to live in or travel to Manchester and Jeremy Isaacs called him a 'genial tyrant' as a result.
I think that what Manchester sees today, London will see eventually.—Sidney Bernstein on his hopes that Granada will eventually prove itself as a key player in British broadcasting in the 1950s.
Bernstein decided to build new studios rather than hiring space or converting old buildings, an approach favoured by the other ITV companies and by the BBC at its original Manchester studios. The investment in new studios in 1954 contributed to Granada struggling financially and the company was close to insolvency by late 1956. All four ITA franchisees were expected to make losses in the first few years of operation but Granada's was a significant sum of £175,000 (nearly £3.5m in 2011) and when it became profitable it had the lowest profits of the quartet.
Granada sought the help of Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday station, which agreed to underwrite Granada's debts in exchange for a percentage of its profits, without the consent of the ITA, who would have blocked it. Granada accepted the deal, but the popularity of ITV increased and profitability followed. Analysts questioned how Associated-Rediffusion, ABC and ATV were making annual profits of up to £2.7m by 1959 and yet Granada's profits were under £1m. With the increase in income, Granada attempted to renegotiate the contract; Associated-Rediffusion refused, souring relations for many years. The deal was worth over £8m (2008: £129m) to Rediffusion. By the early 1960s Granada was established and its soap opera Coronation Streetquickly became popular alongside inexpensive game shows Criss Cross Quiz and University Challenge.
In the 1968 franchise round, Granada's contract was changed from weekdays across the northern England region to the whole week in the north west from Winter Hill transmitting station. Yorkshirebecame a separate region and the contract awarded to Yorkshire Television, broadcasting from Emley Moor transmitting station whose transmissions could be received in parts of North Lincolnshire. Bernstein was angered by the decision to split "Granadaland", and claimed he would appeal to the United Nations. Granada Television was now received in what is now Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside andCheshire, the south of what is now Cumbria (then Lancashire) around Barrow-in-Furness, the High Peak district of Derbyshire (Glossop, Buxton) and parts of the Isle of Man. Parts of North Wales can receive only the Winter Hill transmissions (i.e. Granada) rather than HTV.
Granada retained its franchise in the 1980 franchise review, and invested in multi-million pound productions such as The Jewel in the Crown and Brideshead Revisited. By the late 1980s the UK commercial broadcasters were considered too small to compete in the world market and the ITV franchises began to consolidate with the aim of creating a single company with a larger budget.
The Broadcasting Act of 1990 instigated the 1991 franchise auction round, in which companies had to bid for the regions. Mersey Television, a company producing the Channel Four soap opera Brookside, bid of £35m compared to Granada's £9m but Granada won as Mersey's package did not meet the 'quality threshold' applied by the Independent Television Commission. The quality threshold disadvantaged companies with no previous franchise experience. Granada owned popular television series such as Coronation Street which it threatened to sell to satellite TV if the franchise was lost. The government responded by relaxing the regulatory regime, so that ITV contractors could take over other companies, and Granada bought several companies. Some at the company considered ITV could only survive as a single merged entity in order to have sufficient resources to produce big-budget programmes, a concern that increased when BSkyB began to take ITV's viewing share, leading to less advertising revenue, the source of ITV's income.
David Plowright, who had worked at Granada since 1957, resigned in 1992 citing the arrival of Gerry Robinson who tightened the departmental budget with an uncompromising business approach. Plowright was the company's driving force producing programmes such as World in Action, Coronation Street and promoted the Granada Studios Tour. His departure angered well-known media-industry figures; John Cleese faxed Robinson using 'vitriolic language' and called him an 'upstart caterer', a reference to his past employment. John Birt, Harold Pinter and Alan Bennett all supported Plowright.
The 'Big 5' ITV franchises, Thames, LWT, Central, Granada, and Yorkshire Television were expected to take over the ten smaller franchises. Granada wanted to consolidate with Yorkshire and Tyne Tees Television to 'counter the potential dominance of the south east', and the prospect of being taken over by Thames Television. Granada made a hostile bid for LWT in December 1993, but LWT believed Granada had little to offer despite having three times the market capitalisation; Granada, however, completed the take-over in 1994. Granada continued to expand by acquiring Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television for £652m in 1997 and bought UNM's television assets for £1.75 billion in 2000 – by which it acquired Anglia Television and Meridian Broadcasting and some divisions of HTV – the remaining divisions passing to rival company Carlton due to competition laws. A year later, it acquired Border from Capital Radio Group.
By 2002, Granada had established an effective duopoly of ITV with Carlton Television, owning all the ITV companies in England and Wales. The franchises in Scotland, (Scottish Television and Grampian Television), UTV in Northern Ireland, and Channel Television in the Channel Islands, remained independent.
Granada was in a poor financial state and closed the Granada Studios Tour in 2001 citing decreasing visitor figures, though the real reason was the decision for Coronation Street to go five episodes per week. Without access to the set, which was the highlight of the tour, the whole venture became unviable. They also closed Granada Film. The emergence of digital television cut ITV's viewing share, decreasing advertising revenue which was suffering from competition with the internet. The failure of ITV Digital affected Granada and Carlton with losses estimated at over £1 billion reducing the company's value from 2001 to 2003.
ITV Granada and the unification of ITV.Edit
On 28 October 2002, in a network-wide relaunch, Granada was rebranded as ITV1 Granada. The Granada name was shown before regional programmes, but this has ceased and it has vanished from screens as have all other ITV regional identities. Since rebranding, all continuity announcements are made from London. The Granada logo appeared at the end of its own programmes until 31 October 2004.
Granada was permitted by the government to merge with Carlton on 2 February 2004 to form ITV plc. The move was a takeover by Granada whose market capitalisation was double that of Carlton at nearly £2 billion. Granada owned 68% of the shares and Carlton 32%; chairman designate Michael Green was ousted by shareholders and the majority of new board members originated from Granada. Carlton employees were subsumed in Granada operations or made redundant with three out of four new departments led by Granada staff.
From 1 November 2004, Granada productions were credited "Granada Manchester", the brand of the unified in-house production arm but on 21 September 2005 it was announced that Granada's name would no longer appear at the end of programmes and the in-house production arm was renamed 'ITV Productions'. The change on 16 January 2006 coincided with a relaunch of ITV's on-screen graphics. Granada's name and logo were used at the end of programmes made for other networks, such as University Challenge for BBC Two and old programmes shown on Sky1, 2 and 3, until 2009.
In November 2006, Granada lost its on-air identity when regional programming voiced ITV1 or ITV1 Granada over a generic ident. Local news coverage was branded Granada News except for the 18.00Granada Reports bulletin. Granada Reports's main rival is BBC North West Tonight, broadcast to roughly the same region. In 2009, ITV removed the Granada brand from all departments including its international production arm, Granada America which became ITV Studios America. End credits on programmes made at The Manchester Studios were accredited to ITV Studios.
ITV made cutbacks with the loss of 600 jobs in 2009 which effectively closed the Leeds Studios and more redundancies made in London left Granada relatively unscathed. In the 2009 ITV regional news cutbacks, Granada was one of three regions unaffected by changes except for the addition of the Isle of Man.
ITV is obliged by Ofcom to produce 50% of programmes outside London something it failed to achieve in 2007 and 2008. With this obligation, Manchester as the northern hub and an £80m move to MediaCityUK on March 25, 2013, it would appear that ITV is committed to the Granada region for the foreseeable future.
In the 18 months between the award of the franchise and the start of transmission, Granada built a studio complex on Quay Street. It has been claimed that the site was previously a cemeterycontaining a pauper's grave, where 22,000 people were buried. But an article in The Sun newspaper and an episode of the TV series "Most Haunted" seem to be the only sources for this so far. Twelve maps from between 1772 and 1960 show no evidence of a cemetery and buildings are shown on the bull china site from 1807. Part of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, which linked the River Irwell to the Rochdale Canal from 1839 to 1922, did however run in tunnel underneath the site. The studios pre-date BBC Television Centre by four years and were the first purpose-built television studios in the United Kingdom.
Bernstein wanted to make Granada Television appear a close rival to the BBC and exaggerated the scale of the studios giving them even numbers so that it appeared there were 12 despite only being six. The studios are operated by 3SixtyMedia, ITV's joint-venture company with BBC Resources at BBC Manchester. The studios produce shows displaced by the closure of the Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds in 2009, including Channel 4's Countdown.
In September 2010, the 1950s red Granada TV sign on the roof of Granada Studios was removed for safety reasons after maintenance found it was badly corroded. Some have claimed the sign will return to its 'rightful place'. The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has registered an interest in inheriting the sign, deeming it important to Manchester's cultural heritage.
After the ITV merger in 2004, the possibility of selling the Quay Street complex was considered and staff, studios and offices moved into the adjacent bonded warehouse building. ITV anticipated the BBC would buy the land but the BBC opted to move to the Peel Group's MediaCityUK development in Salford Quays. ITV considered relocating to Trafford Wharf across theManchester Ship Canal from the BBC and discussions continued for several years and an agreement in principle was reached in 2008. In March 2009, in the recession, Granada announced it would remain at Quay Street but after a change of management, talks resumed in January 2010. On 16 December 2010, Granada announced it would move to the Orange Building in MediaCityUK alongside the University of Salford and a studio to produce the ITV flagship soap opera Coronation Street, would be built on the opposite bank of the ship canal on Trafford Wharf. Planning permission was granted and building work started on 6 September 2011 with the aim of completion in 2012. ITV Granada moved to MediaCityUK on March 25, 2013.