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.
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.