Television production is an expensive business, yet Thames does not receive any of the governments licence fee, nor any subsidy or sponsorship. Instead, the bulk of the company’s income is raised by the sale of airtime to advertisers.
Thames has developed a computerised airtime booking system, Enterprise, that places the Thames Sales Department at the forefront of the industry, and has led other ITV Companies to follow suit. By cutting out the massive amount of paperwork that used to complicate airtime selling, the computer gives Thames sales executives instant access to the detailed information they need to service their advertising clients. A recent development called Adnet enables advertising agencies and their clients with computer terminals to benefit from direct access to much of the information contained in the Enterprise database, eliminating time consuming telephone calls and personal contact.
In addition to the services available for mainstream advertisers, a special unit, the Thames Task Force, helps smaller businesses to use television as an advertising medium in the London area.
Thames has also been instrumental in bringing direct response advertising to the television screen, so that viewers can make immediate mail order purchases of goods advertised in commercials.
Since its inception in 1955, ITV has been a commercial broadcasting system, regulated by the IBA. For example, the law limits television advertising to an average of six minutes an hour, and the IBA defines and enforces advertising standards.
All television commercials presented for transmission on Thames are checked by Thames and the Independent Television Companies Association (ITCA), to ensure they comply with the rules laid down by the IBA. There are very strict rules, for example, governing the promotion of goods and services in the medical, legal and financial fields. There are many safeguards against misleading advertising of any kind, and children, especially, are protected against undue or adverse influence by commercials.
A leaflet giving advice on how and where to make comments or complaints about any broadcast material can be obtained from Thames Television, Broadcasting Complaints, 306-316 Euston Road, London NW1 3BB.