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Associated British Corporation

From Academic Kids

ABC logo, 1960s
ABC logo, 1960s

ABC Television or ABC Weekend TV was the British Independent Television (ITV) (commercial television) contractor on Saturdays and Sundays in the Midlands and North of England between 1956 and 1968.

ABC was one of a number of commercial television companies set up in the 1950s by cinema chains in an attempt to safeguard their business by getting involved in television which was taking away their cinema audiences. In this case, the parent company was the Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), who initially did not wish to become involved in the new broadcasting system.

However, when one of the consortia that had been awarded a franchise in 1954 collapsed, the ITA approached ABPC to step into the breach. Accordingly, the Corporation agreed to take up the franchises to broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays to the Midlands and to the North of England. The contract agreeing to do so was signed on 21 September 1955, the day before Independent Television launched in London.

This gave the new ABC 5 months to come on air in the Midlands, the service launching on 18 February 1956. Soon afterwards, they were also up and running in the North - they went on air there for the first time on 5 May 1956.

ABC's original presentation style was criticised by the ITA for being bland and too much attached to the existing ABC Cinemas brand. Taking this criticism to heart, ABC Television developed a strong corporate identity, effectively becoming the first British TV station to recognise the importance of corporate branding. Its new animated logo showed three triangles joining up to form a bigger triangle (in geometry the points of a triangle are often labelled A, B and C), accompanied by a xylophone playing "la-te-doh" (i. e., "A-B-C").

Weekend franchises were scrapped - except in the London area - in the 1967 round of franchise renewals. ABC then looked further afield, pinning its hopes on the London weekend franchise, although they also picked the new Midlands 7-day contract as a second choice.

In the event, ABC were offered the London weekdays franchise on condition that it merged with Rediffusion, London. This was agreed, with profits being shared equally between the two but with ABC maintaining control over the new merged company, Thames Television.

Thames Television in turn lost its franchise in the 1991-2 round of franchise renewals, although the company continues to exist as an independent programme producer, now a part of the FremantleMedia Group and known as talkbackThames.

Networked programmes from ABC included the drama series Police Surgeon, Redcap, The Avengers, the series of one-off plays in ABC's Armchair Theatre, the pop shows Thank Your Lucky Stars and Oh Boy!, plus the gritty dramas Callan and Public Eye (both of which continued as Thames productions after 1968).

Names used

Company names:

  • Associated British Cinemas (Television) Limited (1955-1968)
  • Associated British Corporation (1966-1970s on exports and on continuing productions on Thames)

On-air names:

  • Associated British (1956)
  • ABC Television (1956-1968)
  • ABC Weekend TV (1964-1968)

Initials used:

  • ABC (1956-1968)

Nicknames used:

  • All Bloody Commercials (joke nickname attributed to Bob Monkhouse)

Slogans used:

  • ABC - Associated British in the North (1956-1958)
  • ABC - Associated British in the Midlands (1956-1958)
  • ABC, your weekend TV (1958-1964)
  • ABC, your weekend television in the north (1964-1968)
  • ABC, your weekend television in the midlands (1964-1968)

External links


British television | Channels | ITV

Scotland: Grampian, Scottish Television, Border | North and Northwest: ABC, Granada
Northeast: Tyne Tees | Yorkshire: Yorkshire | Northern Ireland: UTV | Wales: TWW, WWN, ITSWW, HTV
Midlands: ATV, Central | East: Anglia | London: Rediffusion, ATV, Thames, LWT, Carlton
South: Southern, TVS, Meridian | Southwest: Westward, TSW, Westcountry | Channel Islands: Channel TV


Breakfast: TV-am, GMTV | Teletext: ORACLE, Teletext Ltd | News: ITN


ITA | IBA | ITC | Ofcom
ITV plc | ITV1 | ITV2 | ITV3 | ITV4 | ITV News Channel | Men & Motors | ITV Digital

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