Although ATV Midlands was a perfectly satisfying programme producer and a great contributor to the ITV network, complaints were common that the company focused more on its network offerings than the region. Lew Grade was once told that he should concentrate more on Birmingham, England than Birmingham, Alabama, and many Midlanders echoed this.

The IBA therefore forced ATV to give 49% of its shares to local interests (in the end these were Sears, Ladbrokes, BPC and DC Thomson) and to change its name to something closer to home. The name was a tough decision: one enterprising soul took to trademarking many names which implied broadcasting in the Midlands, including Central Television, with a view to getting royalties. He was thwarted though, by calling the new company Central Independent Television.

On 1st January 1982, Central Independent Television burst onto the air, with a dramatic ident featuring a white moon like object splitting open to reveal lights which, according to the designers, hinted at the "surprising things that would come out of Central". It had plenty of new "surprising things" lined up, in the shape of new programmes, but a lot of these new shows were spectacular failiures and were pulled.

Michael Green's Carlton Television was eager to get into the ITV network, and eventually acquired some 40% of the company, plus Zenith Productions. Thanks to the 1990 Broadcasting Acts relaxed ownership rules, Carlton (now with a London weekday franchise, regarded as the sweetest plum) was able to buy Central for roughly £758million. They remain the owners to this day, and in 1999 the Central name was replaced by Carlton's (a move bemoaned by many television presentation geeks).

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