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Inspector Sands13,825 posts since 25 Aug 2004
Was the myriad of switching one reason why ITV centralised its network control in the 1990's?

The centralisation of its playout happened mainly because the companies gradually merged and bought each other so it was one of the departments that merged with them.


It was also done to save money - the three London based companies shared playout from 1993 as it was wasteful to all do it themselves. Border and Westcountry also outsourced theirs while they were independent companies. It's not the cost of a line or switches that costs the most; it's people, equipment and the space to put them in


Fewer line switches was a consequence of fewer centres sending programmes to each other. If ITV was still organised the same way but with newer technology it wouldn't be so much of a problem, each station could have access to any other at the press of a button, they could just manage it themselves. The BBC have had a system like that for inter-regional lines for about 10 years now. These days fibre is cheaper, bandwidth is bigger and there's IP so things would be totally different again
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 2 August 2017 10:10am
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noggin14,544 posts since 26 Jun 2001

I wonder how HTV worked - ie did they have one 'feed' of ITV programmes then opt in with Wales or West programming, or did either region pull its own schedule together from the network.


Depends how far back you are thinking. From the launch of ITV until the early 90s, there weren't really ITV regions as we think of them (and BBC English regions) now and they didn't opt-out because there was no network or sustaining feed to opt-out of.

Each ITV franchise was an entirely separate company with its own in-house presentation and playout operation (including advertising playout). They agreed with each other to show the same shows at the same times in some cases (particularly shows like Corrie) so Granada made the feed of Corrie available to all the other ITV franchises so they could show it at that time (Rather than sending a tape to every station)

So HTV would simply have had playout areas for HTV Wales and HTV West (and possibly multiple splits if they ran advertising sub-regions then). Whether they merged the two at some points I don't know.
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Inspector Sands13,825 posts since 25 Aug 2004
Yes, but that may not have been the case a few years previously when the playout centre was in the same building. I daresay Leeds could have played out standby material but getting the distribution reconfigured may have taken some time.

And going back to the early days of GMTV (before the London/Leeds centralisation) or TVam before that there presumably wouldn't have been anywhere ready to play out a standby programme. Though as is known from the storm of 1987 there seemed to be an arrangement for TVam to leg it down the road to Thames if their place was out of action. What GMTVs backup plan was i don't know but as you say it wouldn't have been ready to go instantly
Hatton Cross3,293 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Central (West) Midlands Today
GMTV's backup play out is a good conundrum.
Disney were shareholders, but did Disney UK have own play out facilities, or contracted out?

Another possible was Reuters, as the news contractor, who would have some form of basic play out facilities at the main newsroom HQ to quickly plug into.

Scottish had another shareholding, but just how quickly Cowcaddens could have been pressed into action to man the pumps while TLS/LNN was out of action is a point of debate, likely to end up at the door of 'not at all'.
My user name might look like Hatton Cross, but it's pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.
62305823,557 posts since 19 Aug 2005

Scottish had another shareholding, but just how quickly Cowcaddens could have been pressed into action to man the pumps while TLS/LNN was out of action is a point of debate, likely to end up at the door of 'not at all'.


Very quickly, There had live early morning news bulletin for all of the 90s and early 00s before the ITN morning news.
Inspector Sands13,825 posts since 25 Aug 2004

Very quickly, There had live early morning news bulletin for all of the 90s and early 00s before the ITN morning news.

Doesn't necessarily mean they'd be able to rustle up a contingency, though of course like every regional centre there was some sort of manning for the regional news.


However STV wouldn't be suitable for the sort of thing as it's too far from London. If GMTV couldn't go to air the channel would be off air before the presenters or the tapes got half way there. If it existed at all it would be in London.

I seem to remember that when they had issues recently the tape of Lorraine was biked over to ITN and played from there. So ITN or Reuters are likely to have been a back up, though at the time they were in the same building!

Though there's no logic about having a backup that's at an affiliated company. Channel 4's is/was at a company that has no connection to them and isn't even a broadcaster. I remember when LBC had to evacuate from their then studios in Latimer Road years ago, they ended up at their rivals TalkSport. The two had a mutual agreement
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 2 August 2017 6:11pm - 2 times in total
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Si-Co2,181 posts since 2 Oct 2003
Tyne Tees Look North (North East)
Going back to ITV playout centralisation, it was a gradual process but more and more programmes started getting routed via Carlton/LWT, though they were usually still played out by the originating station. By 1998/99 there was a network feed of sorts, and CAR/LWT inserted ECPs etc into the feed, although consolidated local continuity was generally maintained at hubs like Leeds and Southampton. (This led to viewers hearing both a "network" announcer and their local announcer over end-credits and in the same junction). We know that by 2002 the English regions all received generic continuity from CAR/LWT (now known as LNN), although in some cases it was still the originating companies who "rolled the VT" of the programme itself and fed it to network via LNN.
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RDJ2,733 posts since 25 Oct 2003
Central (South) Midlands Today
Didn't ITN play out Lorraine when TLS was evacuated last year? I wonder if they would have helped out if GMTV had issues?


Yes they did. That was Good Friday last year when GMB was taken right off air for the whole morning due to a fire a few minutes before 6am. Lorraine was played out from Grey's Inn Road. I think this meant that the clock was blank for the whole programme as well.

I'm unsure what GMTV would've been able to do if they had issues. I remember one morning when they had a Fire Alarm and they show a GMTV slide for a good 30-40 minutes.

TV-am was helped out by Thames during the storm of 1987 by lending them their continuity studio for part of the morning until their studios were back up and running.
Central News South
January 9th 1989 - December 3rd 2006