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Meridian Broadcasting (now legally known as ITV Meridian) is the holder of the ITV franchise for the south and south east of England. The station owned and operated by ITV plc under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited.

It has been broadcasting since 1 January 1993, when it replaced TVS. The main headquarters were situated at studios in Northammarker, Southamptonmarker (previously used by both Southern and TVS), but in December 2004 they moved to part of an office building on the Solent Business Park, near Whiteleymarker, Hampshire; as a result, Meridian's role has gradually been reduced from producing a wide variety of regional and network programming (as it did since 1993, when it inherited a large studio complex in Southampton) to producing little more than regional news bulletins which are a contractual obligation (as it does today).



History

The first programme shown on Meridian was Meridian - The First 10 Minutes, a ten-minute outside broadcast from Winchester Cathedralmarker, presented by Debbie Thrower and previewing the station's forthcoming output. Thrower opened the broadcast with the following words:

"Happy New Year as you join Meridian live from Winchester Cathedral. Hello, I'm Debbie Thower and welcome to 1993 and a double celebration. This magnificent cathedral in Winchester was completed 900 years ago this year and your new ITV station, Meridian, has been on air now for little over nine seconds. For centuries, this cathedral has been a symbol of continuity. And tonight, we recognize the value of preserving what's best."

Other launch day programmes included Michael Palin's documentary First Night on Meridian and the first Meridian News bulletins for the South, South East and West sub-regions.

Other Meridian-commissioned programmes that were introduced included Wizadora for pre-school children, plus ZZZap and Eye Of The Storm for older children. Later on other children's programming was introduced including Dog and Duck for pre-school children. Drama became a successful genre for Meridian, with Peter Kosminsky's hard-hitting No Child of Mine (co-produced by Stonehenge Films, United Productions and Meridian for ITV) tackling the emotionally difficult subject of child abuse, winning Meridian a BAFTA. Later, the same production team tackled vicious childhood bullying in Walking on the Moon for ITV. Hornblower was a Sunday night success for ITV and another Sunday night favourite, Where the Heart Is, transferred production from Anglia to Meridian in 2004.

When TVS took over from Southern in 1982 the south-east region was enlarged by switching the Bluebell Hill transmitter from Thames/LWT, resulting in a new centre in Maidstone, but when Meridian took over the franchise, they created a new "West" sub-region around the Hannington transmitter in order to improve the area's local news coverage, using a small news studio based at a converted warehouse in Newbury. This studio has since closed, as has the company's studio centre at Northam in Southampton, which closed in 2004. Production of Meridian Tonight and local programmes moved to new headquarters in Whiteley. In December 2007, the empty studios at Northam were being used as a secure lorry park, with the back lot used as an overflow car park for St Mary's Stadium. In the summer of 2008, the empty studios started to be dismantled with plans for a multi-storey block of flats to be built.

Sub-regions

Until early 2009, ITV Meridian operated 3 sub-regions. The last sub-regional bulletins for the South and South East regions were aired on Friday 6th February 2009. The new pan-regional edition of Meridian Tonight began on 9 February 2009, presented by Sangeeta Bhabra and Fred Dinenage.

Prior to this, the sub regional news programmes were as follows:

The South and South-East regions produced their own editions of the flagship news magazine Meridian Tonight (6pm weeknights), alongside further Meridian News bulletins throughout the day. As of February 2009 there are pan-regional bulletins, including morning ones during GMTV which are branded GMTV News. The sub-regions retain their own local advertisements too, but otherwise, programmes across the whole Meridian region are identical. From 2004, all of the bulletins for all three sub-regions came from studios in the same building in Whiteley, Hampshire. Some considered this controversial, particularly as the Meridian South East programme for Kentmarker, East Sussexmarker and South Essex was presented by anchors from a studio in Hampshire, 60 miles from the nearest part of the South East region (Brightonmarker) and 160 miles from its furthest point (Broadstairsmarker). This practice wasn't a new one though, as Anglia had been broadcasting both editions of Anglia News/Anglia Tonight from Norwich for the east and west of the region since their inception in June 1990, covering a geographical area roughly the same size in length as Meridian's.

A newsroom plus the main technical production and transmission end of the programmes is centred in Whiteley - but there is a south-east newsroom with reporters based at The Maidstone Studiosmarker. Meridian South-East had originally used these studios before moving in 1994 to a studio at New Hythemarker near Maidstone in Kentmarker. Thames Valley Tonight was also produced at the Whiteley headquarters, with the former Central South studio in Abingdonmarker serving as a satellite newsroom remaining in a small part of the building.

Under cost-cutting plans announced by ITV in September 2007 and agreed to by the UK's broadcasting regulator Ofcommarker in October 2008, the region's three evening news broadcasts - Meridian South, Meridian South East and Thames Valley - would become one. The new programme now covers a large part of England, stretching from Kent and south Essex to Dorset as well as north to Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Around half of the main evening edition of Meridian Tonight and the weekday late bulletin is split between a combined Meridian South/Thames Valley area and the South East region.

Over half of those people are due to be made redundant under plans published by the broadcaster in October 2008. All employees who wished to remain with the company were obliged to re-apply for jobs. Some staff opted for voluntary redundancy and many others have been left without jobs. The new scaled-down pan-regional programme started in February 2009.

Identity

Meridian's original ident featured an exploding mix of orange, yellow and blue, which then came together to form the familiar sun/face logo. The unusual logo design is reportedly inspired by maritime images (the sun/moon face is a recurring feature on compasses, sextants and other nautical artefacts used in the navigation of ships), appropriately reflecting the south's long seafaring history and naval credentials. The name "Meridian", which derives from the Latin meridionālis meaning "of the south", may also be linked to the Prime Meridian (the boundary between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres of the globe, and a key landmark in the measurement of time), which passes through the middle of the region, although this has not been confirmed.

Under several different formups and backgrounds, the sun/face logo was in use until 2002 when the station was re-branded as 'ITV1 Meridian'. The original logo was last seen at the start of the late-night weather forecast on 5 December 2004, and on 1 February 2005 it was replaced with a banner simply saying 'ITV Meridian', the 'official' name of the franchisee. The station is simply known as 'ITV1' at all times.

Ownership

Meridian Broadcasting was founded as a consortium of Mills & Allen Int. Selectv, 15% the program makers and Central 20% who advised the consortium. Central along with Selectv were instrumental in winning the franchise as a low bidder. (MAI).. In 1994, MAI bought Anglia Television, and in 1995 it was a major shareholder in the consortium that won the franchise for Channel 5.

In 1996, MAI merged with United Newspapers (via an agreed takeover by United) to form United News and Media (UNM). The resulting company owned the Daily Express newspaper, Meridian, Anglia, and a large shareholding (through the Yorkshire Post) in Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television, the owners of Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television. This stake was sold to Granada Television, allowing them to take control of the two franchises. In 1997, UNM bought HTV.

UNM had spent several years attempting to merge with either Granada Group or Carlton Communications, but negotiations came to nothing. Instead, in 2000, UNM sold its broadcasting and newspaper interests and became United Business Media. Meridian, Anglia and HTV were acquired by Granada, but the UK Broadcasting Act, at that time, did not allow one company to control that number of franchises. Granada gave HTV to Carlton, in return for Carlton relinquishing the 20% stake in Meridian that it had inherited from Central Independent Television.

In 2002, Granada and Carlton decided to consolidate the separate brandings for the ITV franchises that they controlled, this consolidation became even more apparent after Granada and Carlton merged to form ITV plc.

Productions

Some of Meridian's notable contributions to the national television network include:

References

  1. Meridian licence - Ofcom
  2. http://www.epolitix.com/mpwebsites/mppressreleases/mppressreleasedetails/newsarticle/mps-unite-to-save-local-news-itv-meridian-proposed-service-reduction///mpsite/robert-marshall-andrews/?no_cache=1
  3. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kol08/article/default.asp?article_id=49008
  4. http://www.bectu.org.uk/2007/11/05/meridian-staff-act-over-news-cuts/
  5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6994696.stm
  6. http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/2454985.nearly_100_jobs_to_go_at_meridian/
  7. United Business Media annual report
  8. OfCom
  9. PRNewsWire
  10. OfCom
  11. ITV plc


External links




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