Southern Television Is Born

 

Southern Television provided the ITV service to the south from 1958 until 1981.

The group was formed in 1957 to bid for the new "south of England" franchise created by the ITA. Despite the ITA receiving 9 applications for the advertised franchise Southern television (whose shareholders were Associated Newspapers, The Rank Organisation and the Amalgamated Press) were the successful applicant. A condition of winning the franchise was that Associated Newspapers had to sell their stake in Associated Rediffusion in order to remain a shareholder.

Southern began transmission on 30th August 1958 from the converted Plaza cinema in Southampton reaching just under 600,000 viewers between Brighton and Weymouth via it's VHF 405 line transmitter on the Isle of Wight. Work had already begun on a new studio complex on re-claimed land on the banks of the river Itchin in Southampton ( these studios later owned by TVS and now by Meridian Broadcasting).

Southern's opening night featured a variety show, which included stars such as Lionel Blair, Diana Dors and Gracie Fields together with a number of Mayors and Mayoresses from towns within Southern's transmission area.