ITV (TV network)

ITV is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network. It was launched in 1955 as Independent Television to provide competition and reduce the current monopoly to the then BBC Television (established in 1936).[1] ITV is the oldest commercial network in the UK. Since the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990, it has been legally known as Channel 3 to distinguish it from the other analogue channels at the time: BBC One, BBC Two, and Channel 4.

ITV network
Channel 3

Logos used by the network franchisees
(see map below)
Branding:   ITV1    ITV1 & UTV    STV
CountryUnited Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands
OwnerITV plc (13 licences)
STV Group (2 licences)
Launched22 September 1955; 67 years ago (1955-09-22)
Former namesIndependent Television

ITV was - for four decades - a network of separate companies which provided regional television services and also shared programmes between each other to be shown on the entire network. Each franchise was originally owned by a different company. After several mergers, the fifteen regional franchises are now held by two companies: ITV plc, which runs the ITV1 channel and the UTV channel - now branded as ITV1, and STV Group, which runs the STV channel.

The ITV network is a separate entity from ITV plc, the company that resulted from the merger of Granada plc and Carlton Communications in 2004. ITV plc holds the Channel 3 broadcasting licences for every region except for central and northern Scotland, which are held by STV Group.

Today, ITV plc simply commissions the network schedule centrally – programmes are made by its own subsidiary ITV Studios and independent production companies. Regional programming remains in news and some current affairs series.

In Northern Ireland, ITV plc used the brand name UTV as the name of the channel, until the ITV channel was rebranded as ITV1; it is still, however, used for local programming being shown here. This was the name used by former owner UTV Media (now known as Wireless Group). ITV plc bought UTV in 2016.

Although the ITV network's history goes back to 1955, many regional franchisees changed over the years. Some of the most important names in the network's past – notably Thames, ABC and ATV – have no connection with the modern network.

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