ITV Meridian (previously Meridian Broadcasting) is the holder of the ITV franchise for the South and South East of England. The station was launched at 12:00 am on 1 January 1993, replacing previous broadcaster Television South, and is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. Meridian Broadcasting Ltd was one of several (but not all) ITV plc-owned regional companies to have its legal name changed on 29 December 2006, when it became ITV Meridian Ltd. This company is, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed with Companies House as a "Dormant company".
The company broadcasts to the region from transmitters at Hannington, Midhurst, Rowridge, Whitehawk Hill, Hastings, Heathfield, Tunbridge Wells, Bluebell Hill, Dover and, since 2015, Oxford (previously part of the ITV Central region), as well as associated relays.
Today, ITV Meridian operates from studios in Whiteley, Hampshire, producing regional news services for three sub-regions, covering the South Coast of England, the South East of England and the Thames Valley.
|Type||Region of television network|
First air date
|1 January 1993|
|TV transmitters||Rowridge, Dover, Hannington, Bluebell Hill, Midhurst, Whitehawk Hill, Heathfield;|
Oxford (since 2015)
|Central Southern England, South East England, Thames Valley|
|Owner||ITV plc (2004–present)|
Granada plc (2000–2004)
United News & Media (1996–2000)
|Dissolved||lost on-air identity on 27 October 2002 (now known as ITV at all times)|
|Meridian Broadcasting (1993–2004)|
|1080i HDTV, downscaled to 16:9 576i for SDTV|
ITV Meridian was formed as Meridian Broadcasting in 1991. The company consisted of a consortium between Mills & Allen International (MAI), Selectv (15%) and Central Independent Television (20%), the latter advised the consortium. Central Independent Television along with Selectv were instrumental in winning the franchise as a low bidder. Meridian Broadcasting intended to operate as a publisher broadcaster, meaning that the majority of programmes would be commissioned from independent producers rather than produced in house.
In the 1991 ITV franchise auction, Meridian Broadcasting faced three other opponents in gaining the franchise, including the incumbent Television South and bids from Carlton Communications and CPV-TV. Meridian Broadcasting bid £36.5 million for the franchise, lower than TVS's bid of £59.8 million, however TVS's bid was rejected following an unsatisfactory business plan. As the highest qualified bid, Meridian Broadcasting therefore won the franchise.
Meridian Broadcasting launched at midnight on 1 January 1993 replacing Television South, with the programme Meridian – The First 10 Minutes, a 10-minute outside broadcast from Winchester Cathedral presented by Debbie Thrower and previewing the station's forthcoming output.
Other launch day programmes included Michael Palin's documentary First Night on Meridian and the first Meridian News bulletins for its three sub-regions. Meridian advertised their presence as the new ITV contractor heavily; promotions began appearing on TVS several weeks before the launch and the new company's logo was also incorporated into the product for the first advert shown on the station – the special edition Ford Fiesta Meridian car, available through Southern Ford dealers.
Six months after the launch of Meridian Broadcasting, the new company joined up with HTV, Westcountry Television, Channel Television and S4C to form a joint advertising company operated by Meridian Broadcasting and HTV.
Shortly after, MAI began to expand by buying Anglia Television, the ITV franchise for the east of England, in 1994. The following year, MAI became a major shareholder in the consortium that won the franchise for Channel 5. In 1996, MAI merged with United Newspapers (via an agreed takeover by United) to form United News & Media (UNM). The resulting company owned the Daily Express newspaper, Meridian Broadcasting, Anglia Television, and a large shareholding (through the Yorkshire Post) in Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television, the owners of Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television. The stake in Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television was sold to Granada Television, allowing them to take control of the two franchises in 1997. United News & Media later agreed to buy Scottish Television's 20% stake in HTV and on 28 June 1997, HTV was taken over fully by UNM for £370 million.
In 1999, plans emerged of a merger between UNM and rival Carlton Television, however these talks failed when it appeared that Meridian Broadcasting would have to be sold off as a condition of the deal. As a result, the television assets of UNM were sold to Granada, however due to regulations stating that the company could not control that large an audience share, the broadcasting arm of HTV was sold to Carlton Television in exchange for Central Independent Television's 20% stake in Meridian Broadcasting.
In 2002, Granada Television and Carlton Television decided to consolidate the separate brandings for the ITV franchises that they controlled, changing the name of the region to ITV Meridian, with the on screen name of ITV1 used before all non-regional programming. The consolidation became further pronounced when Carlton Television and Granada Television merged to form ITV plc in 2004. 2004 also saw the move of ITV Meridian from their previous Northam studio complex to a new studio base in Whiteley, Hampshire.
In the subsequent years, ITV Meridian's workforce has been condensed slowly with its operations considerably downgraded. This came to a head when Michael Grade announced his intention to reduce the number of regional programmes from 17 to 9. As part of these plans, which were approved by Ofcom in 2008, the three editions of the news programme Meridian Tonight were replaced with a single edition with a pre-recorded opt out for either the South or South East of the region. The plans resulted in over half of Meridian's existing staff being made redundant; all employees wishing to remain with the company were obliged to re-apply for jobs. Some staff opted for voluntary redundancy and many others have been left without jobs. Strike action was threatened as a result of the announcement.
At present the only local programming that ITV Meridian provides for the region is the regional news programme. In 2013 proposals were approved by Ofcom that reversed the 2009 consolidation of ITV Meridian's regional news programmes, resulting in the reinstatement of the three sub-regions (South, East and Thames Valley). However to maintain lower costs, the main half-hour programme at 6pm contains a minimum 20 minutes of regional news (10 minutes in the Thames Valley) and daily use of "shared content" from outside the region. The practice of broadcasting one programme live and pre-recording others, using the same presenting team and studio set, continues. A pan-regional political programme, The Last Word, is also broadcast every month.
When Meridian originally won the franchise in 1991, its plans were to purchase buildings, not unlike its current arrangement today: with a small studio for continuity and local news. This was planned because, being a publisher-broadcaster, it did not plan to make any programmes itself, instead buying in programmes from independent production companies. However, when TVS lost its franchise, TVS' plans were to become an independent production company based at Vinters Park, Maidstone, site of the former TVS South East division. Meridian took the opportunity to buy the Southampton studios from TVS.
Meridian did put these studios to good use in the future; on some occasions, Meridian would hire its studios out to the independent companies to use for the programmes, and, under the ownership of United News & Media, some Channel 5 programmes were made there. However, as a publisher-broadcaster, the facilities were generally too big for Meridian. By 2004, ITV plc had decided that regional programming would be phased out in the years to come. In 2004, Meridian closed their Northam studios and moved to a unit in a business park in Whiteley. These new headquarters at Forum One, Solent Business Park, contained a newsroom plus the main technical production and transmission arms of the programmes including three small news studios.
In summer 2008, Meridian's former studios at Southampton started to be dismantled, and it was planned to build a multi-storey block of flats. In December 2010, the site was still lying empty after developer Oakdene fell into administration in 2009.
Over the weekend of 22–23 October 2011, ITV Meridian moved to new premises in Fusion Three, on the same business park at Whiteley and across the road from its previous office. The new headquarters are again located in a conventional office building, and include two small studios, one of which is used for ITV News Meridian. The other is used for weather forecasts for the three sub-regions. The move was due to the cancellation of the lease at its former Whiteley premises.
In addition to Meridian's Southampton headquarters, the company operated other studios and news bureaus. Upon launch, the South East output came from The Maidstone Studios before moving to a purpose-built studio centre at New Hythe near Maidstone in Kent in 1994. Following the move of the studio to Whiteley, the complex closed with a south-east newsroom with producers and reporters being moved back to The Maidstone Studios. Additionally, Meridian originally opened and operated a new studio complex at Newbury for its Meridian West operation. This closed in 2001, when the studio was moved to Southampton.
When Meridian launched, it divided its news operations into three separate sub regions. These regions were served by their version of news programme Meridian Tonight, presented by an individual team of presenters from a studio within the sub region. These regions were:
The services remained without major modification until 2001 when the Newbury complex was closed and the Meridian West studio operation was moved to the Southampton headquarters; Newsgathering remained the same as previously. When the company moved to Whiteley in 2004, presentation of all three editions of Meridian Tonight moved with the company, resulting in the closure of the New Hythe studio base, although newsgathering in the south-east was unaffected as journalists and reporters moved back to the Maidstone Studios. Despite this move not being uncommon in the broadcasting industry, some considered the move controversial, particularly as the Meridian South East programme would be presented 60 miles from the nearest part of the South East region and 160 miles from its furthest point.
On 4 December 2006, the Meridian West and Central South sub regions were merged to form the non-broadcast region ITV Thames Valley. This new service was broadcast from Whiteley, using Central's Abingdon base as the main newsgathering centre.
Under cost-cutting plans announced by ITV in September 2007 and agreed to by the UK's broadcasting regulator Ofcom in October 2008, the region's three sub-regions would be replaced with one programme. This new programme would be split between the South East and a combined South/Thames Valley region for the first half of the programme, and joined as one for the remainder of the programme. One of the opt out segments would be pre-recorded depending on the regions news. The new programme began on 9 February 2009, presented by Sangeeta Bhabra and Fred Dinenage. Pan-regional bulletins including morning ones during Daybreak, which are branded Daybreak Meridian News, are also used in the region. The sub-regions retain their own local advertisements.
In 2013, following a network wide rebrand of ITV, the long-standing Meridian Tonight brand was retired and replaced by ITV News Meridian. On 23 July 2013, proposals to reintroduce some elements of the sub-regional services were approved by Ofcom. As a result, ITV News Meridian now also produces separate breakfast, lunchtime and weekend bulletins for the South and South East with opt-outs within the main 6pm programme extended slightly to 20 minutes. In the former Thames Valley region, plans were also approved for a ten-minute opt out within the 6pm programme for the south of England and a full late night bulletin on weekdays after News at Ten.
During Meridian's years as an independent broadcaster their on-screen idents typically featured a form-up of their logo. From their launch this featured an exploding mix of orange, yellow and blue, which came together to form the distinctive sun/moon face logo. The unusual logo design was reportedly inspired by maritime images (the sun/moon face is a recurring feature on compasses, sextants and other nautical artefacts used in the navigation of ships), appropriately reflecting the south's long seafaring history. The name "Meridian", which derives from the Latin meridionālis meaning "of the south", may also be linked to the Prime Meridian (the boundary between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres of the globe, and a key landmark in the measurement of time), which passes through the middle of the region, although this has not been confirmed.
On 2 September 1996, this ident was replaced by one with a deep purple/blue background and an emphasis on the deep colours of the logo, as well as a smoother form-up. This ident was replaced on 5 October 1998 by one with a yellow background and featuring a small ITV logo underneath the Meridian name. On 8 November 1999, the emphasis was on the network's hearts logo, with a very small Meridian logo only featuring at the end of the form-up. This look was in use until October 2002 when ITV1 in England and Wales abandoned local continuity and idents. The only exceptions were ITV1 idents shown before regional programming, which featured the word "Meridian" below the ITV1 logo, . However, even this did not last, and only a few years later these regional idents were dropped. Meridian for a while managed to retain some identity by featuring their (sun/moon face) logo on the local weather forecast. However, the logo was completely removed in 2004, last seen at the start of the late-night weather forecast on 5 December 2004. On 1 February 2005, it was replaced with a generic "ITV Meridian" logo, the official name of the franchise.
Since 2006, all idents have been generic to the entire network with no difference between regions and only the ITV1 name being used. On 14 January 2013, the station's on-air identity was changed to ITV, along with all other ITV plc-owned franchises. From September 2014, however, Meridian's identity was revived by an announcement (including the sub-region) immediately prior to the evening edition of ITV Meridian News.
Meridian Broadcasting was originally intended to function as a publisher-broadcaster, commissioning most programmes from independent producers and with in-house production largely restricted to regional news, sport and current affairs. However, over time and as its ownership changed, Meridian began to make a number of regional and networked programmes itself. As its parent company MAI became a significant shareholder in Channel 5, Meridian supplied a number of the new channel's programmes for the network such as sports programme Turnstyle, youth programme The Mag and children's show Havakazoo.
Meridian also geared a large amount of its network output towards younger viewers, with independent commissions including Wizadora for pre-school children, plus ZZZap!, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, It's a Mystery, The Vanishing Man, Jane Austen's Emma, William and Mary and Eye of the Storm for older children. Drama became a successful genre for the station, with Peter Kosminsky's No Child of Mine, tackling the emotionally difficult subject of child abuse, winning Meridian a BAFTA award. Meridian presents Mary Wesley's two novels: Harnessing Peacocks and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew. Later, the same production team tackled vicious childhood bullying in Walking on the Moon. Meridian's two-part production In the Name of Love in 1999 starred Tara Fitzgerald, Tim Dutton and Mark Strong, and was written by Sarah-Louise Hawkins and directed by Ferdinand Fairfax. Hornblower was a Sunday night success for the ITV network while another Sunday night favourite, Where the Heart Is, transferred production from Anglia Television to Meridian in 2002 – the station's last major contribution at a network level.
Astra 2E is one of the Astra communications satellites owned and operated by SES, launched to the Astra 28.2°E orbital slot on 30 September 2013 after a 10-week delay caused by rocket launcher problems. The satellite provides free-to-air and encrypted direct-to-home (DTH) digital TV and satellite broadband services for Europe and the Middle East.After launch, Astra 2E underwent in-orbit testing at 43.5°E and began commercial operations at 28.2°E in February 2014. At that time, channels broadcast via Astra 1N (temporarily located at 28.2°E pending Astra 1E's launch) were transferred to Astra 2E and Astra 1N relocated to its design position at 19.2°E.Astra 2E is the second of three 'second generation' satellites for the 28.2°E position to replace the first generation Astra 2A, Astra 2B, Astra 2C and Astra 2D craft originally positioned there between 1998 and 2001. The first, Astra 2F, was launched in 2012 and the third, Astra 2G, was launched in 2014 (launched on 27 December 2014).
Unlike other SES/Astra spacecraft, the launch order of Astra 2E and Astra 2F is not reflected in their alphabetical names, with Astra 2F launched 10 months before Astra 2E.BBC South East
BBC South East is the BBC English region serving Kent, East Sussex, part of West Sussex and a small part of Surrey.
The BBC region was created in September 2001 by the joining of the Heathfield transmitter (formerly part of the BBC South region) with the Bluebell Hill and Dover transmitters (from the then BBC London and South East region) to form a new regional TV service. Unlike ITV Meridian (East), it does not serve southern Essex (received from a Bluebell Hill overlap), this area being part of the BBC London region instead.Bluebell Hill transmitting station
The Bluebell Hill transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility located at Blue Bell Hill between Maidstone and Rochester in the English county of Kent.
The station is situated on the crest of the North Downs and comprises five steel lattice towers, each 45 to 50 metres tall - their height being compromised by the location of nearby Rochester Airport. It broadcasts digital television, FM and DAB radio to much of north, west, and central Kent, and an overspill service into southern Essex. It stopped broadcasting analogue television when the digital switchover was completed on 27 June 2012. When in analogue service, the broadcast power of 30kW for a main transmitter was unique in the United Kingdom, the strength being limited by potential interference with transmitters in France and the Low Countries.
Services broadcast include BBC One (South East), BBC Two, ITV (Meridian), Channel 4, Heart Kent, KMFM Medway and KMFM Maidstone. Between its opening in 1974 and 31 December 1981 the transmitter broadcast Thames Television (weekdays) and London Weekend Television (weekends), being switched on 1 January 1982 to carry signals from the new ITV franchise TVS (Television South), until superseded on 1 January 1993 by ITV Meridian for ITV in the south east. The transmitter takes its main BBC1 feed from Crystal Palace, with an opt-out for BBC local news in the South East broadcast from studios in Tunbridge Wells. Although timing is of the essence at this point the human factor sometimes results in a delay of a second or two, enabling viewers to glimpse the London studio and presenter before the Tunbridge Wells studio appears.Boogami
Boogami was a search engine launched in August 2008, that was developed by James Wildish, a 16-year-old college student from the United Kingdom.Charlotte Hawkins
Charlotte Mary Hawkins (born 16 May 1975) is an English television and radio presenter, newsreader and journalist currently employed by ITV and Classic FM.
Hawkins joined ITV's Meridian Tonight in 2003, hosting its main news programme, leaving in 2006 to become co-presenter of Sky's breakfast programme Sunrise with Eamonn Holmes. In 2014, she left Sky to co-present the ITV Breakfast programme Good Morning Britain. She also presents a Sunday afternoon programme on Classic FM.
She was a contestant in the fifteenth series of Strictly Come Dancing but was eliminated in the fourth week.Dover transmitting station
The Dover transmitting station is a facility for broadcasting and telecommunications, located at West Hougham, near Dover, Kent (grid reference TR274397). It has a 243.2 metres (798 ft) high guyed steel lattice mast of triangular cross section. The station is owned by Arqiva. The recommended UHF aerial group is C/D with horizontal polarisation.
There is also a relay transmitter located in the town of Dover (Dover Town); in addition FM radio services are covered by the Swingate transmitting station.
Along with Heathfield and Bluebell Hill, Dover transmits regional television services from BBC One South East and ITV Meridian (South East).Fred Dinenage
Frederick Edgar Dinenage MBE (born 8 June 1942) is an English television presenter, broadcaster and author. He has had a TV career spanning more than 50 years.Heathfield transmitting station
The Heathfield transmitting station is a facility for FM and television transmission at Heathfield, East Sussex, UK (grid reference TQ566220). Opened in 1969 it uses as its antenna mast a 135 metres (443 ft) tall guyed structure, giving average transmitter height 256 metres (840 ft) above sea level. A Group B (or wideband or K group) horizontally polarised aerial is required to receive digital TV signals. The original analogue signals were in the Group C/D band, but all the digital MUXES should still be receivable on a C/D group aerial in reasonable signal areas (see graph).
The station's coverage area suffers from co-channel interference problems, particularly to the south, not only with Brighton (Whitehawk Hill) but with the continent as well. It is owned and operated by Arqiva.
Along with Dover, Bluebell Hill and Brighton Whitehawk Hill, Heathfield transmits regional television services from BBC One South East and ITV Meridian (east).Hornblower (TV series)
Hornblower is the umbrella title of a series of British historical fiction war television films based on three of C. S. Forester's ten novels about the fictional character Horatio Hornblower, a Royal Navy officer during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The series ran from 7 October 1998 until 6 January 2003, with Ioan Gruffudd in the title role. It was produced by the British broadcaster ITV Meridian, and was shown on ITV in the UK and A&E in the US. It is often repeated on ITV4.ITV News Meridian
ITV News Meridian is the regional news programme for the ITV Meridian region and part of the ITV Central region, serving South East England.
The news service is produced and broadcast from ITV Meridian's studios in Whiteley, near Fareham with reporters also based at bureaux in Didcot, Brighton, Maidstone, Poole and Reading. The programme is currently EDF Programme of the Year for London and the South East (for coverage of the 70th anniversary of D-Day) and the Royal Television Society's Southern Centre Programme of the Year (for coverage of the Eastbourne Pier fire)ITV Thames Valley
ITV Thames Valley was a non-franchise ITV news region covering the Thames Valley area of the United Kingdom from 4 December 2006 until 8 February 2009. It served the south/south-eastern area of the legal Central franchise and the north/north-western area of the legal Meridian franchise. In its first year, its flagship news programme Thames Valley Tonight won the Royal Television Society's Southern Centre Award for News Magazine Programme of the Year for its coverage of the 2007 summer floods.
The service began broadcasting 4 December 2006 merging the news assets of the two former sub-regions, and its newsrooms were officially opened on 26 January 2007 by ITV executive chairman, Michael Grade.It was operated by ITV plc, and the main news programme in the area was Thames Valley Tonight.ITV Weather
ITV Weather is the national and regional forecast shown on UK terrestrial network ITV, and is provided by the Met Office (except the Channel Islands forecast, which is provided by the Jersey Meteorological Department). Bulletins are usually broadcast after every ITV News and ITV regional bulletin. Jon Mitchell is the longest serving forecaster after 28 years with ITV Weather.Jonathan Wheatley
Jonathan Wheatley is a British television and radio news presenter, actor and voice-over artist born in London.
His early career included presenting for Seattle's Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Public television station KCTS and writing reports and narrating documentaries for Worldwide Television News. He also presented for ITV Meridian and HTV Wales regions and spent four years presenting news in Bristol for HTV West.
He also had brief spells presenting for Carlton's London Today and Sky News and for the last eight and a half years has presented The World News for the BBC World Service. He also edited, produced and presented the world news on Monocle 24.Paul Belverstone
Paul Belverstone is a British journalist. He currently works for the Premier League at IMG having spent 10 years at ITV Meridian as sports correspondent.
He presented a round-up of the day's sport for the south and south east of England and appeared nightly on Meridian Tonight.
Belverstone is a fan of Tottenham Hotspur who previously worked in radio on Southern FM in Brighton and 107.7 The Wolf in Wolverhampton.Phil Hornby
Phil Hornby is a British news reporter who currently works for ITV Meridian in the South East of England.Hornby is Meridian's Political Editor. Previously, he was the main news presenter for the South East version of the programme Meridian Tonight (now ITV News Meridian) alongside colleague Charlotte Hawkins but they have both moved on to other roles in news. In addition, Hornby presents the local political programme The Last Word. Prior to joining ITV Meridian, Hornby worked for predecessor TVS.Saima Mohsin
Saima Mohsin is a British Pakistani journalist & presenter born and bred in South London - most recently she has been an International Correspondent for CNN.Southern Television
Southern Television was the ITV broadcasting licence holder for the south and south-east of England from 30 August 1958 to 31 December 1981. The company was launched as Southern Television Limited and the title Southern Television was consistently used on-air throughout its life. However, in 1966 during the application process for contracts running from 1968 the company renamed itself Southern Independent Television Limited, a title which was used until 1980, when the company reverted to its original corporate name. Southern Television ceased broadcasting on the morning of 1 January 1982 at 12.43am, after a review during the 1980 franchise round gave the contract to Television South.The Royal Harbour Academy
The Royal Harbour Academy is a mixed secondary school located over two sites in Ramsgate in the English county of Kent.The school was formed in September 2015 from the merger of The Ellington and Hereson School located on Newlands Lane (the current Lower School site) and The Marlowe Academy located on Stirling Way (the current Upper School site).Whitehawk Hill transmitting station
The Whitehawk Hill transmitting station (also known as the Whitehawk transmitting station) is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility located at Whitehawk, an eastern suburb of Brighton in the English city of Brighton and Hove. It is the city's main transmission facility for television and radio signals. It broadcasts digital television, FM and DAB radio to the coastal city of Brighton and Hove and to surrounding areas along the Sussex coast. It stopped broadcasting analogue television when the digital switchover occurred locally in March 2012.
Services broadcast include BBC One (South East), BBC Two, ITV (Meridian), Channel 4, BBC national radio stations, BBC Sussex and Heart Sussex.