The results of a “meet the managing director” session at Teddington that tried to calm industrial relations in 1970

At the end of the third and final presentation to the staff at Teddington on 16 November, Howard Thomas said he was considering further methods of improving internal communications.

From the Thames Television Newsletter for 27 November 1970

Answering John Tasker (Head of Sound, Teddington), when he suggested that “it shouldn’t take a crisis to get management and staff together”, Mr Thomas repeated what he and the Chairman had said at the two earlier presentations at Euston. “In an industry which is at the very centre of communications, we seem to find difficulty in communicating effectively with each other. There has got to be an improvement: and I hope you will see these talks by the Executive Directors as a positive step forward.”

All three presentations were well attended and the general opinion was that useful information about the company had been put across. The question sessions at the end were particularly valuable.

Extracts

Howard Thomas, pictured in 1977

The Managing Director introduced the presentation by reiterating Thames’ position as ITV’s leading company. “Let me remind you, then, that Thames now makes more of Britain’s most popular programmes than any other ITV company. That in its own area, London, Thames is consistently more popular than the BBC or London Weekend Television. And that in sales of commercial time, despite a period of comparative recession in the advertising industry, the company has outstripped its competitors.”

Technical operations

Having described the divisional structure of the company, he paid tribute to the engineers. “The technical operations of Thames are second to none in ITV. The studios at Teddington, and those here at Euston and also our outside broadcast division at Han worth, keep us on the air and they also keep us one step ahead of the game in this fast-moving business. It was Bernard Greenhead and his team who did such a great deal to pioneer colour television for ITV.”

Sales

He then introduced George Cooper, Director in charge of Sales, Research and Publicity. Mr Cooper reminded the audience of ITV’s growth from a medium reaching only half a million homes across the country in 1956 to one now capable of being seen in 16.6 million homes. 94% of the total population was now covered by ITV, and advertisers spent £98.5 millions in 1969 to reach that audience.

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He went on to talk about the Thames area. First its size: “If you take the whole of the population of Australia plus the population of New Zealand, and put them into an area half the size of Tasmania, you have the Thames market in size and population. It is the largest and most influential of all television areas. It contains four-and-a-quarter million Independent Television homes and fourteen million people”.

Its buying power: “Although our single area contains 25% of all the television homes in the country, it accounts for over 30% of total national sales. Many companies can, and do, operate successfully and profitably in the Thames area alone. With its high concentration of retail outlets and stores, its higher than average incomes and the sophistication of its population, it offers considerable economies in sales and marketing costs and gives opportunities for exceptional rewards to companies who are geared to take advantage of these conditions.”

ITA forecast beaten

Mr Cooper then turned to Thames’ actual performance in selling time.

“The Independent Television Authority calculated that from 1968 the five main companies would earn revenue in the following order:

  1. ATV with seven days in the Midlands.
  2. Granada with seven days in Lancashire.
  3. Thames with four-and-a-half days in London
  4. LWT with two-and-a-half days in London.
  5. Yorkshire with seven days in Yorkshire.

And they divided the London contract on an almost equal basis, with 50.4% of the revenue to Thames and 49.6% to London Weekend.”

In practice, he continued, the ITA’s forecasts have not materialised. Thames soon became, and has remained, No. 1 revenue earner and not third as the Authority predicted. And what about the roughly 50/50 split of London revenue between ourselves and LWT?

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“In fact, we are considerably above the 50% line and LWT are well below it. We have been steadily improving our share of the London revenue going up from 55% to 60% and in June 1970 as high as 65%. This in spite of intensive efforts by LWT to improve their position with attractive rate offers to advertisers. These achievements made Thames No. 1 in London and No. 1 across the Network, a position we intend to maintain.”

Future

Finally he looked to the future: “Advertising budgets are being cut, money is being spent on promotional activities other than television and press, and our customers want more help and services from us. We have pioneered support activities like the Ansafone Service, reply coupons in the TVTimes, inclusive production facilities and many other services which are time consuming and sometimes costly. But these facilities are necessary if we are to attract new sources of revenue to make up for losses and to encourage our customers that television is right for them. Colour, videotape, studio facilities for the smaller advertiser – these and many other services will be necessary to develop our advertising income and maintain the excitement and effectiveness of the medium.”

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