As Pres fans we are all well aware of the little changes that have happened over the years as well as the obvious ones. These changes can involve the names of services and how these names should be written as well as graphics and idents.
We know that since 1997, the name of the BBC’s main channel has been officially written as ‘BBC ONE’ – or is it ‘BBC One’? Well there may be a little ambiguity there but we know it is very definitely not written as ‘BBC 1’ or ‘BBC-1’ nowadays.
There are quite a few similar examples dotted around broadcasting. How should a name be written? Is the use of an old term archaic? Or were some of these terms wrong to begin with?
When it comes to the BBC, there is the question of the use of the definite article. It seems clear enough. Basically the corporation itself is referred to by the prefix “the” while individual services are not.
This clear distinction seems to date from the late-1950s and 1960s. Before then the names of individual services also included definite articles: ‘The BBC Television Service’, ‘The BBC Home Service’ and so on.
The official change to BBC Television dispensed with the definite.
Then there is the use of the hyphen in the channel names. Until the mid-80s, captions sometimes referred to ‘BBC-1’ and ‘BBC-2’. This rule never seemed to be strictly enforced though.
There was never a hyphen on logos though the observant will have noticed a larger space before the numeral. Radio Times had given up on the use of the hyphen by 1969.
Interestingly though some newspapers didn’t seem to afford the corporation itself the honour of the definite article in the 70s and 80s. The reason may date from the late-50s and early 60s when a viewer might choose between buttons marked BBC and ITA.
Yes, ITA. It was not unknown for the name of the regulator (and legal broadcaster) to be used by some as if it were the name of the channel.
Even the distinguished comedy producer David Croft did this in his autobiography. He worked for Associated Rediffusion and Tyne Tees before he began his long association with the BBC. However to hear ITV referred to as ITA was never accurate.
The ITA (note the definite) was a powerful regulator and ran the transmitters. It didn’t commission, produce or schedule programmes nor did it fund them.
Of course, you can just about argue with justification that everything an ITV company made in those days was ultimately made for the ITA. But that sounds like a lawyer’s argument to prove a point.
It was never accurate to call ITV itself ‘ITA’ even though some sets had buttons with this label. Looking back, hearing this term as a channel name is both fascinating and archaic.
As for ITV itself, we’ve often discussed its identity. Do viewers today talk of ‘ITV’, ‘ITV 1’, the most recent regional name or even an old regional name?
What we can say is that it’s now archaic to talk of, say, Granada or Central as channels. UTV though still provides an example of dual branding. And don’t dare refer to STV as ITV.
And a couple of final thoughts.
Who remembers when Channel 4 was occasionally referred to in its early days as Channel 4 Television?
And don’t get me started on the various uses of Channel 5 and Five over the years.
PICTURED: excerpt from Freeview TV Guide. COPYRIGHT: Freeview.
Don’t remember ITA but I do remember waiting on a Saturday morning for programmes to start on ITV (it was Southern) with a blue IBA card showing…