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Television Act of 1954

Television Act, 1954

The Television Act of 1954 was the law which permitted the creation of the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom.

By the early 1950s, the only television service in Britain was operated as a monopoly by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and financed by the annual television licence fee payable by each household which contained one or more television sets. The new Conservative government elected in 1951 wanted to create a commercial television channel, but this was a controversial subject -- the only other examples of commercial television were to be found in the United States, and it was widely considered that the commercial television found there was "vulgar". The solution to the problem was to create the Independent Television Authority which would closely regulate the new commercial channel in the interests of good taste, and award franchises to commercial companies for fixed terms (see the entries for the ITA and ITV).

The first commercial franchises were awarded in 1954, and commercial television started broadcasting in stages between 1955 and 1962.