Symud i'r prif gynnwys

'DRUNK ON HOPES AND IDEALS': THE FAILURE OF WALES TELEVISION, 1959-1963 1 Ifan Gwynfil Evans The BBC's monopoly in television was broken in 1955, when London viewers received their first advertisement on the new commercial television. By 1956, parts of mid Wales received a service from Birmingham, while most of north-east Wales and some of Anglesey could receive the Granada service from north-west England. In 1958, Television Wales & West Ltd. (TWW) began broadcasts to south Wales and to south-west England. Since Granada and TWW broadcast each other's Welsh language programmes as well as their own, there were over three hours of programmes in Welsh each week on ITV, even though these programmes were also received by viewers in Manchester and Bristol. There was not to be an exclusively Welsh television service until 1961, when Wales Television Ltd. won the contract to broadcast to west and north Wales. The fate of this company, which was soon renamed Wales (West & North) Television Ltd. (WWN), was fairly well summarised in Twenty-One Years of Independent Television, a celebratory publication issued to mark twenty-one years of independent television: Wales West and North, Britain's forgotten television chapter, was opened on September 14 [1962] and for once, the advertisers didn't flock to sell to sheep and other Celtic fringes. TWW announces in September [1963] the terms under which it will take over Wales West and North, the contractor which nobody supported and which since before the turn of the year had merely been a relay station for network programmes. Its (inevitable?) death prompts much introspection, but who remembers today.2 There was no other reference to the short-lived WWN, presumably on the basis that since this was the only ITV company ever to collapse in the middle of its contract, its story was one best forgotten. WWN did not open properly until 28 January 1963, because of the delayed completion of one of its three transmitters. And when it did start to broadcast to all of its contract area, its service was much more than that of a relay station: in addition to network programmes, WWN produced a weekly average of 5 hours 40 minutes, about a third of which was in Welsh, and purchased a further 5 hours 1 minutes of Welsh language programmes from TWW, its ITV neighbour in south Wales. Quite apart from the unprecedented seven hours each week of Welsh language television, WWN opted out of the ITV network service for almost eleven hours each week. The wealthiest companies rarely managed more than six hours of their own programmes, and this level of service proved to be an intolerable strain for a company starved of viewers and advertising revenue. Despite the efforts made by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) and by TWW to ease the financial burden, WWN was forced to cease all its own production from May 1963. With accumulated losses of over £ 250,000, it became a glorified relay station until it was taken over by TWW in January 1964. Were it not for borrowed money and considerable generosity from the ITA and various companies within the ITV structure, WWN would hardly have survived even nine months. For some time afterwards it was kept artificially alive, but its most notable I would like to thank Professor Aled Jones for guiding my research, and Dr Marian Loffler and Mark Ellis Jones for their assistance in correcting my ideas and grammar. Julian Graff, 'The ITV Schedule', in Twenty-One Years of Independent Television (London, 1976), p. 34.