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Associated Television was in the first wave of companies to be awarded ITV contracts when the station began in the mid-1950s and was the only consortium to be awarded two franchises: London for the weekend broadcasts (Associated Rediffusion had the weekday contract) and weekday for the Midlands, centring on Birmingham where ABC Television had the weekend contract (Incidentally, ABC Television was the one daytime ITV company who, due to their franchised scheduling times, never transmitted a single episode of Coronation Street).
The station first went on the air in London on 24th September 1955 and in the Midlands on 17th February 1956. Although Associated-Rediffusion carried Coronation Street from its first episode in London, ATV refused to broadcast the programme, along with Tyne Tees Television in the North East of England. The latter station quickly capitulated and joined in with broadcasts from Episode 14 (25th January 1961) onwards but ATV held out. There was a history of rancour between Lew Grade of ATV and Sidney Bernstein of Granada Television which may have contributed to this decision. The story was told that Grade only changed his mind when his wife made a trip to the North of England, saw the programme and advised her husband to transmit it. When ATV joined in with transmissions from Episode 25 (6th March 1961), the ITV network changed transmission times and dates from 7.00pm on Wednesday and Friday to 7.30pm on Monday and Wednesday, an arrangement that remained until 1989 when a third episode was added on Fridays.
ATV was best known for its variety, light entertainment and filmed adventure programmes however it also set up the first serious "soap" rival to Coronation Street in the form of Crossroads which began in November 1964 and, although hated by the critics and many ITV executives, often surpassed the Street in the ratings in the 1970s (Granada refused to show Crossroads until September 1972).
In the 1968 franchise reshuffle ATV lost the weekend London franchise to London Weekend Television and in the 1980 round was criticised for its Midlands' regional programming resulting in it being reformed as Central Television which began broadcasting on 1st January 1982.
- ATV at Wikipedia.