15th May 1992
Channel Television fights for the right to continue broadcasting
The biggest ever shake-up in the British commercial television industry saw several ITV franchise holders lose their licenses in October 1992. Channel Television, which serves the Channel Islands was fortunately not among them. However, cornerstones of the network, like Thames and TV-am looked set to disappear.
Many of the losing bidders – and not just those who had lost existing licences, but newcomers who hoped to gain a place in the network – threatened to seek legal advice over what action they could take. For many, their prime complaint was the fact that the amount each bidder was willing to pay for their licence was taken into consideration, not just the quality of the bid itself. This was despite half of the successful applicants not being the highest bidders for their licences.
A serious rival
Incumbent Channel Television wasn’t the only company hoping to win the rights to broadcast to the Channel Islands from 1993 onwards. The last applicant to arrive at the Independent Television Commission’s headquarters on application day, Wednesday 15 May, had been CI3. CI3 had bid £102,000 for the franchise, valuing each of the area’s potential viewers at 75.5p a year, assuming they all tuned in at some point. This might sound like good value, but it was considerably more than Channel Television’s own bid of just £1000 (which valued each viewer at 0.7p each).
It was fortunate for Channel, then, that the law had been changed very shortly before applications opened. The network’s franchises had become available as a result of the broadcasting Act, which initially only allowed them to be awarded to the highest bidder, which would have guaranteed CI3’s success. An amendment had been made at the last moment, which allowed the Independent Television Commission to also consider the quality of the proposed output from each applicant. It would appear this was what swung it for Channel Television.
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