“Trading Profit £5.5 million”
“Another Excellent Year”
In my 1964 Statement I was able to report “an excellent year’s trading”, and I added that I had “every confidence in your Company’s prospects for the ensuing year”.
I am now happy to be able to say that my prediction has proved justified. Associated Television Limited has enjoyed another excellent year — in fact, despite the effects of 8 months’ levy on turnover, the second most profitable in the 10 years’ history of your Company’s activities.
The consolidated Profit and Loss Account shows that the profit of the Group, before taxation, stands at £5,522,348 [£88.9m in today’s money allowing for inflation – Ed] for the 52 weeks to 4th April, 1965.
This year has been historic as the first in which ATV has broken into the American networks. The series “Danger Man” — re-named “Secret Agent” in the United States — was sold to CBS. Its reception was unprecedented. Following upon three shows which hod failed one after the other it promptly reached first place in the national ratings for programmes in that time period. In consequence, CBS has now placed an order for a further series of “Secret Agent” for next winter. The United States contracts for “Secret Agent” alone ore worth more than $3,000,000 [$30m].
The unique puppet series, “Stingray”, has now earned the highest prices ever paid in syndication — that is to say in sales to individual stations throughout the United States The revenue from this series will, it is estimated, exceed $1,500,000 [$15m] in the United States alone.
During the year 1964/65, overall exports to some 100 Countries throughout the world have resulted in a Sales revenue of nearly £2,000,000 [£32.2m]; and in the current year this figure should be passed by a very substantial margin.
The levy on turnover, collected by the Independent Television Authority on behalf of the Exchequer, will be in force for the whole 12 months of the ensuing financial year (1965/66). This levy rises at the top end of the scale to no less than 45% of advertising receipts — the highest rate of discriminatory taxation in the history of British industry.
It would be idle to pretend that the effect of the levy on your Company’s profits will not be adverse. It cannot be otherwise. On the other hand, it would be totally misleading to attempt any direct equation between the amount of the levy and the resultant amount of the profits.
In the first place, your Company’s revenue from advertising is substantially higher than it has been at any time in its history: this is due to the exceptional performance of the ATV Sales department. Secondly, internal economies affecting every phase of the ATV operation except programme production have already shown good results. Thirdly, the benefits of diversification are apparent in the form of additional revenue coming from sources which are not subject to the television levy.
ATV’s policy has been one of planned expansion in those fields in which your Directors and their Management have the widest background of experience and therefore the greatest contribution to make for the future. It was in line with that policy that your Company made its largest and most important single investment by acquiring the whole of the share capital of the Stoll Theatres Corporation Ltd , and of Moss Empires Ltd.
In London, the Stoll Theatres Corporation controls — either freehold or leasehold — the following theatres Coliseum (leased to Cinerama Ltd); Palladium; Victoria Palace; Hippodrome (leased to “Talk of the Town”); Apollo; Her Majesty’s; Globe; Queen’s; Lyric; Phoenix; and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. And in the provinces: Birmingham Hippodrome; Bristol Hippodrome; Brighton Hippodrome; Liverpool Empire; Manchester Palace; Manchester Hippodrome (site awaiting development); Morecambe Winter Gardens; Nottingham Empire (closed); Nottingham Theatre Royal; and Stoll Picture Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Considerable as these interests are, they do not in any sense constitute a monopoly of the live theatre, either in London or in the provinces. Nevertheless they do provide a wide and substantial bridge between Television and the Theatre, and I am fully satisfied that this is to the advantage of both.
Still pursuing our line of planned expansion within the entertainment industry, in October of last year your Company purchased a controlling interest in M Berman Ltd., one of Britain’s leading firms of film and theatrical costumiers.
The change in government has put paid to ATV’s lofty plans for a seven-day outlet in London, and with it all the other ideas, mostly bonkers, for making it work. The subject is abruptly dropped – there’s little point attempting to convince the new Postmaster General, one Anthony Wedgwood Benn, that there would be any benefit in expanding any commercial service in any field in the UK.
And there’s no chance, again on Mr Benn’s watch, that the Levy is going away any time soon. It’s still an object of hate (not just for ATV, nobody in ITV as a whole liked it) but the change of government has led to something of an economic boom, meaning more advertisers, meaning more money, meaning that the effects of the Levy are felt less. And they’ve now been factored in to ATV’s thinking, both at board level and by shareholders. The Levy exists, they don’t like it, but it is a fait accompli that they are fated to comply with.
Throughout the country the programmes produced by Independent Television have been preferred to those produced by the BBC in the ratio of 64% to 36%, and the programmes of ATV have greatly contributed to this success. Indeed, never before have so many distinctions for programmes been earned in any one year by the artists, personalities, writers and producers connected with a single Company.
The Guild of Television Producers and Directors made four ATV awards; The Screen Writers Guild made four ATV awards; The Variety Club of Great Britain made three ATV awards; and The Television Society two ATV awards. The awards constitute the acceptance of the outstanding position of Mr. Bernard Braden as the ITV personality of the year, and of “The Plane Makers” as the outstanding dramatic series of the year.
The Authority’s transmitter in the London area, where ATV is responsible for the week-end operation, reaches a potential audience of 13.8 million. In the Midlands, where ATV is responsible for the week-day operation, the audience has — as a result of the opening on 30th April, 1965, of the Authority’s Membury relay transmitter — now risen from a potential audience of 8.7 million to one of 9.2 million. This increase in audience potential will in due course be reflected in the revenue-earning potential of the Midand operation.
During the year we have entirely reshaped the pattern of our regional programmes in the Midlands. At a regular time throughout the week-days, our viewers now see a daily Midlands news and news magazine programme (“ATV Today”). ATV Midlands moreover has established the first successful five-day-a-week serial in British television. This programme, “Crossroads”, originating in the Alpha Studios in Birmingham, has now spread across almost the whole national network, and regularly appears in the regional Top Ten ratings. A national critic recently went so far as to say: “‘Crossroads’ is the biggest television success of 1965”.
In the past I have indicated that our investment in television companies in Canada has proved disappointing because of the heavy initial losses which these companies incurred. I am now, for the first time, able to report that the companies are soundly profit-making and that the value of ATV’s Canadian holdings has correspondingly increased.
ATV (Distributors) Pty. Ltd., is in the happy position of having been able to arrange sales in Australia of all the major ATV series and programmes which they have been asked to handle.
ATV has continued to produce three fully networked programmes for schools. These have been well received throughout the entire country In the Midlands, where ATV maintains its own Education Officer, the number of schools in which there are provisions for regular viewing has increased during the year from 1,130 to 1,480.
Outstanding in the field of adult education was the series devised by Mr. Harold Wiltshire, Director of Adult Education at Nottingham, and produced by ATV in co-operation with that University. For the first time in the history of adult education on television in this country, the series (on basic economics) offered viewers the opportunity to enrol for a correspondence course based on the programmes and to have personal contact with tutors. Over 1,600 viewers enrolled, and a further course on a national basis is now being planned.
Pye Records, which is 50% owned by ATV, has enjoyed a year of overall success and of individual successes.
On no fewer than five occasions, records under the Pye label reached the Number One position in the British Top Ten listings. Moreover, during this period British pop discs in general, including those of Pye Records, achieved a new fashionable status in the American market. No one would ever presume to predict how long any trend will continue in the pop record field particularly in the U.S.A. but, as a result of the sudden British boom — described by some critics as a “cult” — the dollar earnings of Pye Records more than doubled. Elsewhere in the world, where the trends are usually steadier, overseas sales of Pye Records have shown on increase of more than 50%.
Ambassador Bowling profitably operated 10 Tenpin Bowling Alleys with a total of 273 bowling lories. Three new Centres were opened during the course of the year — in Hounslow, Wolverhampton, Edgware.
Approximately 250,000 people visit our Centres each week. Tenpin Bowling is a sport which covers all age groups but, it should be noted, by far the greatest numbers fall between the ages of 16 and 26.
The new weekly Midlands programme journal, “TV World,” published by Odhams Press Ltd. and jointly owned by ATV which provides the week-day programmes in the Midlands and by ABC Television Ltd. which provides the Midlands week-end programmes, was launched on 26th September, 1964. Its success was immediate. The circulation has grown consistently and now stands close to the 700,000 mark.
Though in the post the growth of this service of background music for offices, factories and public areas has proved slower than anticipated, the position has appreciably improved during the past year. The total value of contracts secured stands at a figure in excess of £1,000,000 [£16.1m], and is now growing rapidly as the benefits of the service become more widely appreciated.
MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
It would have been impossible for me to write in such confident terms of ATV’s overall buoyancy and prospects for the future if it were not for the vigorous, zealous and able leadership given to the Company by the Managing Director, Mr. Lew Grade. I also send my most sincere thanks and those of my colleagues on the Board to all the Staff throughout the Group for their loyal and hard work.
About the author
As a public company with shareholders, ATV was required to publish a detailed Annual Report at the end of each financial year. It was common to also publish a Chairman's Statement, summing up the report in more readable language.