Launched in 1955, ITV is a federation of television companies holding licences from the Independent Television Commission (ITC) to broadcast in fourteen regions throughout the United Kingdom.

There are currently fifteen companies holding licences to broadcast in the fourteen regions (two licences being held for London, Carlton controlling the weekday output and the other for the weekends, the mysteriously-named London Weekend Television). The regions, and current licence holders, are:

England & Wales

East                          Anglia
East, West & South Midlands   Carlton
London                        Carlton & LWT
North East                    Tyne Tees
North West                    Granada
South East                    Meridian
South West                    Carlton
West and Wales                HTV
Yorkshire                     Yorkshire
Channel Islands               Channel
Scotland & Borders
The Borders and Isle of Man   Border
Central Scotland              ScottishTV
North of Scotland             Grampian
Northern Ireland              UTV
At the time of launch, the only other channels available in the UK were BBC1 and BBC2, both funded by the television licence fee, while ITV's funding comes purely from regionalised advertising. In terms of programming output, it's very much within the mainstream including drama, comedy, light entertainment, sport national news and regional news (from twenty-seven regions and sub-regions). Very little of the choice of shows you can see on ITV are what you could call high-brow. Or even, really, mid-brow. It's pretty much tabloid television designed to appeal to the majority of the UK that reads The Sun with, to be fair, occasional breaks for quality, quality drama - see Bad Girls and Cracker. Seriously, when ITV does drama it is often compulsive viewing. (recent 2003 example, the christopher eccleston vehicle, the second coming).

The channel is responsible for, amongst others, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the longest-running soap opera in the United Kingdom, Coronation Street.

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