What happens when TV companies get taken over? Here’s Granada TV & LWT

An on-screen ident for LWT in 1975

An LWT on-screen ident in 1975

Once upon a time in the UK, there was a network called ITV. Not a single company. A network of separate companies.

The network had been set up in 1955 so that it would provide regional and national competition to the BBC.

Under the Broadcasting Act of 1990, franchises to run the companies were now awarded to the highest bidder rather than purely on quality grounds. This meant, for example, that Central Independent Television paid only £2,000 for its unopposed franchise, but Yorkshire Television paid £37.7 million for its franchise, which was roughly the same size.

The 1990 Act also allowed ITV companies to take over other ITV companies.

In 1994, Granada TV took over London Weekend Television (LWT).

I worked freelance at LWT for two years. I worked freelance at Granada in Manchester over fifteen years.

A friend of mine worked at LWT at the time of the take-over by Granada. This is what they told me in an e-mail after they left:

“The day of the take-over, senior management – i.e. board members – no longer appeared in the building and destroyed cars, offices, equipment etc. This shook and upset me. The rest of the management turned up to find Granada cars in their spaces and Granada bodies in their offices. A few walked out and left it to their solicitors but most had to stay or risk losing their legal rights. That is what I had to do. For nearly a year, I had to turn up for work to protect my legal rights.

Billy Bunter

Billy Bunter

In fact, I had no job because the chap who took someone else’s job also took all of my role so I had to either stay or walk out and claim constructive dismissal but a little known fact is that, if you do this, any award made to you is taxable at 40% and you cannot put the award into your pension which is what I wanted to do.

So I had to fight every day to maintain my position.

I can’t remember the name of the chap who took over my role, only that he was nicknamed Billy as he resembled Billy Bunter.

My job at LWT had been to manage a department which was variously 50-100 staffers plus freelance.

After the take-over, I was excluded from all decisions and information. A few examples of how difficult this was are

  • I received no post as it was all redirected to Billy, I had no signing authority but continued to sign knowing they would be rejected.
  • I had to pay for my own flights to Manchester (Granada TV’s base) and take charge of the office there (such lovely people and well confused by all this) and also took charge of a little London Granada outpost which I closed and moved into my offices.
  • Ooh yes, they did move the woman in charge of another department into my office – a lovely lady with whom I got on well and very nicely moved her out again.

Obviously I was expected to have a nervous breakdown or walk out but was a big enough thorn in their side and knew employment law so I think that is why they gave me everything I asked for just before Christmas and just before my health did break down.


Filed under Television

3 responses to “What happens when TV companies get taken over? Here’s Granada TV & LWT

  1. I have long hatred for Granada and Carlton for teaming up to systematically destroy the ITV Network. The recent hoo-ha about local tv licences really boiled my blood seeing as we USED to have local tv stations before the bully boys at Granada and Carlton demolished them.

    While the ITV network wasn’t 100% brilliant, people felt like ITV belonged to them. That cheery face between programmes reminding viewers of what was coming up next, local news for YOUR region not your’s and the one next door (Border-Tyne Tees anyone?). All destroyed courtesy of the Godzillas at Granada and Carlton.

    STV and Ulster have refused to be swallowed up by ITV and the bods in London and Manchester didn’t like that, throwing their toys out the pram and threatening legal action if they didn’t come to the dark side. Instead, STV took over Grampian and Ulster stood firm and basically stuck 2 fingers up at ITV and showed them that they could go it alone. London got a further kick up the arse when STV and Ulster stopped showing “The Bill”, thus reducing the potential viewership by around 9 million. It seems that, at that point, ITV started taking the Celts seriously and backed off. The STV and U.TV players were also the first to include their respective companies back catalogue of classic programmes; the ITV player followed some months later adding a selection of “classic” programmes, mainly those shown previously on ITV’s 3 and 4.

    So, after almost a decade of damage and the loss of Border’s Carlisle studios and Yorkshire TV’s Kirkstall Road studios (now the “Northern Transmission Centre”), ITV continue to basically decimate what was once a familiar, welcoming friend into a faceless voice run from London and Manchester.

    Well done….no seriously….well done

  2. keith martin

    I remember when Granada hired part of the LWT scenery block for their ‘Good Morning’ programme. Why did London Weekend allow that to happen? I know, it was a weekDAY show! No competition then ……. Am i right, mmm?

  3. Kenny, the way you where treated is shocking but not surprising. I worked for what was British Rail, and surprise surprise [LWT] I was hounded out exactly the same way after 35 years loyal service! It’s the tory obsession of it has to be changed even if its not necessary, although Tessa Jowell for Labour got well and truly sucked in by these goons and just like they stuffed us railwaymen up too Labour went along with it! And did nothing to stop it. Political interference on both parties part trying to out do each other! Basically my region Anglia disappeared like all the others; and instead of local talent inputting different ideas giving the network that rich tapestry of diverse programmes; we now have the Melvyn Bragg described idea [in his history of ITV programme] of why spend millions on a TV show when a guy with a hand held camera can do a TV show for a fraction of the cost? Enter the dribble you get now a days. Ironically an ex Anglia TV employee who worked in the film unit is now a train driver, and once told me how he has some classic “Survival” shows in his garage. Given film crews lost their lives filming these not to mention the cost of making them; I asked him how come they are in his Garage. His reply? Chris anything the East Anglian Film Achieve didn’t want went in the Skip. I saved them from the landfill. I’ll leave this thought open for debate!

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