"The 1991 Franchise battle"

It is now 1990 a new broadcasting act has passed through parliment, the IBA is replaced with the Independent Television Commission (ITC). Renewal of the 15 area franchises is first on the agenda, for a 10 year term. The contracts would be awarded to those who passed the quality threshold and with the highest bid, the act also stated that new bidders need not have their own studios or production staff.

Rudolph Agnew is now in full control of TVS, he set about working of the franchise application, under the old system TVS would have been a certain loser the company made too many mistakes and upset the regulators too often. But this franchise round was different, maximising revenue for the Government while ensuring that programme quality did not suffer was the name of the game. Agnew took it as read that TVS would pass the qaulity threshold, he just needed to bid higher than anyone else. With MTM still in trouble, TVS needed help, some new backers who would guarantee a high bid. With less than six months to go until the deadline for submission, many of the TVS board felt that this an impossible task, but Angew was confident.

Schroders, TVS' financial adviser lined up two new investors, Associated Newpapers, as previous shareholder in Southern TV and the American producion company, Time Warner. The deal between TVS' new investors was completed in two months and the bid size of 59.76m was agreed. Due to TVS' previous problems, the stock market insisted on the bid being made public. The application was then delivered to the ITC headquaters in London, along with all other applicants all TVS could do now is wait.

The ITC spent the next few months working on the applications, scrutinising and debating each application in turn, noone envied their job. On the 16th October 1991 the ITC faxed the results to each applicant and at 10:00am a press conference announcing the results of the ITV franchise battle was held. TVS had lost, Tony Brook managing director of TVS receieved the fateful fax at the companies headquaters. He phoned Rudolph Agnew at home, "Rudolph, they've turn us down for overbidding". "Damn" said Angew "damn the ITC, damn Gatwood".

The TVS bid of 59.76m was far to high the ITC had decided, they said "would not be able to maintain its proposed service throughout the period for which the licence would be in force" and so awarded the ITV contract for South/South East England to the MAI-backed Meridian Broadcasting, who had bid 36.52m.

Three other companies had lost, they were Thames Television, Television Southwest (TSW) and TV-am.

The new Companies are:- Carlton Television, Meridian Broadcasting, Westcountry Television and GMTV.

On the 18th October the TVS board said it was to consider a judicial review, but failing to overturn the ITC decision it would start to liquidate the company and its 800 staff would face redundancy. Unions had already approached Meridian about employment opportunities, but as they had only made provision for 373 staff it will only be able to absorb a fraction of TVS staff.

TVS Life after Death