Thames Television was the second weekday ITV contractor for London, formed out of a shotgun marriage between ABC Weekend and Rediffusion.

It was 1967 and the ITA had a problem. It wanted to give ABC the London weekday, or weekend, franchise all to itself. But ABC, despite having the backing of a large cinema company, would not be able to take the expense of being the weekday contractor. The London Television Consortium (now London Weekend Television) wanted London weekend and would take nothing else. To add to this impossible situation, Rediffusion was a great contractor, well loved by the people of London. It was a model ITV contractor and the ITA did not want to kill it just yet.

A solution was then devised, which ABC and Rediffusion had to accept, or else they would not get a new franchise. The idea was that ABC and Rediffusion would create a new company, with ABC owning 51% and Rediffusion 49%. This new company would then have the best of both broadcasters and be in a strong position to take the weekday ITV franchise.

The two companies obviously accepted, and in mid-1968, Thames Television was born.

The launch of this new company was hindered slightly by a month long technicians strike, which only started around an hour into programmes. After said month, the technicians came back and programming restarted.

Even so, through the seventies and eighties Thames was basically used as a fundraiser for Rediffusion and ABC (which had been acquired by EMI in the early 70s) and the company had continual internal disputes.

In 1985 Carlton Television made a takeover attempt, and again in 1991-the IBA, however blocked the deal. Carlton would be back to haunt Thames though, as due to the new franchising procedure instigated by the Independent Television Commission, Thames lost their franchise to Carlton in 1993.

Thames' passing has been mourned by many, most of them Londoners who feel short changed by the downmarket and cheap Carlton. And I'm one of them.

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