Associated British Corporation
Infobox ITV franchisee
name = ABC Television
Manchester, Birmingham, London
owner = ABPC
airdate = 18 February 1956 in the Midlands
5 May 1956 in the North
closeddate = 28 July 1968
replacedby = ATV in the Midlands
Granada Televisionin the North West Yorkshire Televisionin Yorkshire
Associated British Corporation (otherwise known as ABC Television or ABC Weekend Television) was one of a number of commercial television companies set up in the 1950s by cinema chains in an attempt to safeguard their business by getting involved in television which was taking away their cinema audiences. In this case, the parent company was the
Associated British Picture Corporation(ABPC), who initially did not wish to become involved in the new broadcasting system, but were persuaded to do so by the Independent Television Authority(ITA) and the head of their Pathé Newssubsidiary Howard Thomas, who became the new company's managing director.
When "Kelmsley Winnick", one of the consortia that had been awarded a franchise in 1954 collapsed, the ITA approached ABPC to step into the breach. Accordingly, the Corporation agreed to take up the franchises to broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays to the Midlands and the North of England. The contract agreeing to do so was signed on 21 September 1955, the day before Independent Television (ITV) launched in
This gave the new ABC five months to come on air in the Midlands, the service launching on 18 February 1956. Soon afterwards, they were also up and running in the North - they went on air there for the first time on 5 May 1956. They were aided in part by the failure of the original contractor; Kelmsley-Winnick had ordered over £1 million (2008 equivelent:£18.8m) [Historic Inflation Calculator, www.thisismoney.co.uk] of production equipment from manufacturer
Pyewhich they sold onto ABC at a much discounted price [ Black,P, The Mirror in the Corner, Macmillan, London, 1971] .
ABC's original presentation style was criticised by the ITA for being bland and too much attached to the existing "ABC Cinemas" brand. Taking this criticism to heart, ABC Television developed a strong corporate identity, effectively becoming the first British TV station to recognise the importance of corporate branding. Its new animated logo showed three triangles joining up to form a bigger triangle (in geometry the points of a triangle are often labelled 'A', 'B' and 'C'), accompanied by a xylophone playing 'la-te-doh' (or 'A-B-C' on the
Networked programmes from ABC included the drama series "
Police Surgeon","The Human Jungle", "Redcap", "The Avengers", the series of one-off plays in "ABC's Armchair Theatre", the pop shows "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Oh Boy!", plus the gritty dramas "Callan" and " Public Eye" (both of which continued as Thames productions after 1968).
Weekend franchises were scrapped - except in the London area - in the 1967 round of franchise renewals. ABC then looked further afield, pinning its hopes on the London weekend franchise, although they also picked the new Midlands seven-day contract as a second choice.
ABC operated three production sites and had a further sales office. The main production facilities were the former "Warner Studios" located at
Teddington, Middlesex. Although outside of their contract area, ABC operated a Londonbase as many celebrities couldn't venture outside of the capital to record programmes as they were often starring in theatre plays in the West End. Upon the merger with Rediffusionthis site became the main production base for the new company Thames Televisionand is still in use as an independent facility, Teddington Studios.
Within their constituency ABC operated a northern studio centre, converted from a former "Capitol" cinema in
Didsbury, Manchester. They also had a sales office based in "Television House" in the centre of the city. Following the merger the site was leased to Yorkshire Televisionin 1969 for recording pre-launch programming whilst their own studios were being constructed and in 1970 was sold to Manchester Polytechic. The site was demolished in 1996.
In the Midlands they formed a joint venture with Midlands weekday licensee ATV to oversee the running of a production and transmission facility to be used by both. "Alpha Television Limited" purchased a former cinema in
Aston, near Birminghamand extended it by the construction of additional studios and office space; the site was known as the "Alpha Studios".
In 1968 ABC vacated the premises as a result of its move to London. Faced with high costs for converting the studios to colour production ATV opted to build new studios in the heart of Birmingham, subsequently named "Alpha Tower". In 1970 they also left the site and "Alpha Television" went into
voluntary liquidationand the site sold. In 1974 the commercial Independent Local Radiostation BRMBbought the centre and converted it into a radio station, remaining there until the late 1990s. The original cinema has since been demolished but the additional office space still remains.
The 1968 Contract Round
In the event, ABC were offered the London weekdays franchise on condition that it formed a joint company with Rediffusion, London. This was agreed, with profits being shared equally between the two but with ABC maintaining control over the new company,
Thames Television in turn lost its franchise in the 1991-2 round of franchise renewals, although the company continues to exist as an independent programme producer, now a part of the
FremantleMediaGroup and known as talkbackTHAMES.
*Associated British Cinemas (Television) Limited (1955-1968)
*Associated British Corporation (1966-1970s on exports and on continuing productions on Thames)
*Associated British (1956)
*ABC Television (1956-1968)
*ABC Weekend Television (1964-1968)
*All Bloody Commercials (joke nickname attributed to
*ABC - Associated British Corporation in the North (1956-1958)
*ABC - Associated British Corporation in the Midlands (1956-1958)
*ABC, your Weekend Television (1958-1964)
*ABC, your Weekend Television in the North (1964-1968)
*ABC, your Weekend Television in the Midlands (1964-1968)
* [http://www.transdiffusion.org/abc/ ABC at Large from Telemusications (unofficial history site)]
* [http://www.625.uk.com/tv_logos/flash/abc_serif.asp Animated ABC logo] , c.1960 from 625.uk.com (
Macromedia Flash6 or later required)
* [http://www.625.uk.com/tv_logos/flash/abc_tv_64.asp Animated ABC logo] , 1964 from 625.uk.com.
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