Assess the factors which led to the creation of ITV in 1954
Commercial Television has been playing big role in our lives for about 60 years already, whether it is the Morning News, Downton Abbey or The Britain’s Got Talent show (Johnson, Turnock, 2005: 1). Commercial television is entertaining, educating and informative and tries to fulfil viewer’s wishes of what they want to watch. British audience has been able to choose what they watch since 1954, when government published the Act of Television which allowed the creation of the first independent television in the United Kingdom. The creation of ITV broke the BBC’s monopoly and introduced country a new era with free market and diverse television channels (Williams, 2010:151). Establishing ITV was a result of economic, political and ideological factors which was first brought up in Selwyn Lloyd’s Minority Report. The critical document cited that there should be commercial alternative to the BBC. According to Minority Report, there should be freedom of choice rather than ‘the brute force of monopoly’ (Negrine, 1998: 18). In this essay, I will discuss which factors helped to create independent television. In order to assess the important aspects that made ITV possible, we have to keep in mind political, economic and ideological factors as well as the living conditions of the 1950s. The growing alienation from the BBC of its audience, the rise of official dissatisfaction with the Corporation and emerging consumer boom of the 1950’s helped to form the Independent Television (Williams, 2010: 146). Campaign for independent television
To start with, one of the main factors which led to the Act of Television in 1954 was the commercial campaign done by a small but cohesive group of Tory backbench MPs who came from the world of business and believed in free enterprise and competition (Johnson, Turnock, 2005:15). While assessing the factors which led to a creation of ITV, it is important to focus on political factors such as the campaign for commercial television as this was a perfect example of a political lobby work. Lobby refers to a political battle that was carried out in the House of Commons and outside of it. ITV itself was the product of a well-organised business lobby to unleash commercial forces inside broadcasting (Freedman, 2009:19). In addition to a well-thought campaign, Tories were also supported by the immense power of the great entertainment industries. Pye Radio, the largest West End theatre management, and J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency, were all involved in the campaign (Curran, Seaton, 2010: 153). Great support from the media industries and well-prepared lobby work helped Tories to push through the Act of Television in 1954. Negotiations were done by Tory agitators who had a personal interest in the creation of ITV as it promised to boost their businesses and gave a new and undiscovered way of making money. The campaign for commercial television took the democratic or populist view: that competition would force up quality (Crissell, 1997: 97). On the other hand, campaigners were concerned not so much with television content as with its distribution: many wished to be able to offer their services to more than just one broadcasting organization. Therefore, lobbyists were more aiming for their own financial benefit that the creation of the independent television would have made possible. Campaigners’ hard work was paid off when the group was able to strike a deal in the backrooms of government to get what they were aiming for. What is clear is that a deal was done allowing the Tory agitators to have commercial television as long as they left radio alone (Turnock, 2007:15). Pressure Group’s negotiations with the conservatives lead to success mainly because of the promise that BBC’s well developed radio will be left in a way as it was. By the 1950’s BBC radio had achieved respect among the audience while television was still relatively new and...
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