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Channel Television


Channel TV logo, 1980s

Channel Television (CTV) is a British television station which has served as as an Independent Television (ITV), contractor to the Channel Islands since 1962.

The Channel Islands, principally Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, are located in the Gulf of St Malo, over 100 miles south of the British mainland, and very near the coast of France. Constitutionally they are the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy which remained loyal to the English throne when the rest of the Duchy was lost to France in 1215, and they are not part of the United Kingdom as they have their own governments in Jersey and Guernsey; they depend on the UK only for foreign representation and defence (the latter not being terribly effective, as they were the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans between 1940 and 1945).

From the point of view of television coverage, the BBC has always treated the islands as an extension of their South West region, relaying programmes from Plymouth to the islands. However, as the smaller areas of Britain acquired their commercial television channel in the late 1950s and early 1960s, local opinion was that the Channel Islands should have their own franchise. This posed a problem to the Independent Television Authority as, constitutionally, the Television Act of 1954 did not apply to the islands so the ITA's ability to operate there had to be permitted by means of extending the Act to the islands by means of an Order-in-Council. Secondly, was the problem of connecting the islands to the rest of the ITV Network -- the solution was to build a relay station on Alderney, the northernmost island, which would then send the network feed from Southern Television (or its later successors TVS and Meridian Television) to Channel Television's studio in Jersey; this was initially a problem because the existence of the relay station meant that Alderney itself could not have a broadcast service initially, and the local authorities refused to lease land to the ITA for the relay station! This problem was eventually overcome, and CTV went on the air on September 1, 1962 -- the penultimate ITV franchisee to go on air, and serving the smallest population, only about 150,000 people in 54,000 households.

The small size of the station, once described as "television in miniature", while having implications for the profitability of the company, has on the whole been to its advantage. It has an extemely close relationship with its viewership, reflecting daily life and government in the islands, and while not producing large numbers of programmes for the ITV Network at the start of the 21st century it does produce some five and a half hours a week of programmes for its own area, including local news and some programmes in the local dialects of French. Channel Television was the only ITV franchisee not to be affected by the technician's strike in the summer of 1968, as it was understood by all that any strike action would probably put the company out of business. Similarly, Channel was not affected locally by the Great ITV Strike of August to October 1979, when the rest of the ITV Network was blacked out for ten weeks by another technicians dispute: while the rest of the network was displaying an on-screen caption, Channel continued to broadcast twelve hours a day of local news, films, and programmes from the CTV archives.

Channel Television was not challenged for its franchise in the 1967 and 1981 franchise rounds. In 1991 it defeated a challenger for its franchise, CI3 TV, with a bid for 1,000 (the minimum bid possible).