“POLICY OF PLANNED EXPANSION WILL BE VIGOROUSLY PURSUED”
Before I comment on the year’s results — which, for the fourth successive occasion, I must describe as truly excellent — let me refer to four important events in your Company’s history.
(i) ATV Network Ltd., your wholly-owned subsidiary, has been awarded the seven-day-a-week Contract for the Midlands from 30th July, 1968, for a period of six years. This is the major Contract offered by the Independent Television Authority.
(ii) Associated Television, the first television, film and programme producing Group to be recognized in this way, has been honoured by being chosen as a recipient of the Queen’s Award to Industry for Export achievement in 1967.
(iii) The range of your Company’s operations is now so extensive that your Board has felt for some time that a new title would be more proper Accordingly, it is being proposed that Associated Television Ltd., the parent Company of the Group, should be renamed Associated Television Corporation Ltd.
(iv) Mr. Lew Grade has been appointed a Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of your Company, and Mr. Robin Gill has been appointed Managing Director.
The consolidated Profit and Loss Account shows a profit for the Group, before Levy and taxation, of £11,838,787 [£179.3m in today’s money, allowing for inflation – Ed], an increase of £779,476 [£11.8m] over the results of the previous year (£11,059,311 [£167.5m]).
The Levy on Television Advertising Revenue amounts to £5,761,068 [£87.2m] and is £328,702 [£5m] higher than last year. After deducting this levy, the profit before taxation amounts to £6,077,719 [£92m] (last year £5,626,945 [£85.2m]).
Taxation for the year is £2,348,188 [£35.6m] as against the previous year’s figure of £2,780,325 [£42.1m]. After adding back £528,697 [£8m] in respect of a provision for depreciation no longer required, the Group profit after deducting the Levy and taxation amounts to £4,258,228 [£64.5m] as compared with £2,846,620 [£43.1m] last year.
The Shareholders’ funds, at £22,708,000 [£344m], are more than £5,000,000 [£75.7m] greater than at the end of the previous year. The total increase since 1963 now amounts to £12,589,000 [£190.7m].
ATV GROWTH FACTOR. In an article, entitled “British Business Growth League,” published in the June, 1967, issue of “Management Today,” ATV was shown as the top company in the country for percentage increase in pre-tax profit for the period 1957-66.
In the same article, ATV was included in the list of Top Ten companies for percentage increase both in net capital employed and gross cash flow for the same period.
FUTURE PROSPECTS. I must refer to the disturbing economic conditions which prevail, but in your Company’s affairs, two major factors, both highly encouraging, now colour the whole situation.
In the first place, the matter of the ATV Network Licence is satisfactorily settled, and your subsidiary’s profitable working into the mid-1970s can realistically be predicted.
Secondly, in the year under review, the non-licence operations within your Group contributed some 42% to the Company’s overall profits; and the high level of these non-licence earnings should be at least maintained.
I am able, therefore, to inform shareholders that I find both sides of your Company’s activities in good order, and can assure them that our announced policy of Planned Expansion will be vigorously pursued.
ATV had been told it was on a hiding to nothing on its long-cherished plans for seven days in London a couple of years before. Then it was told that there was no chance of it even keeping a toe-hold in London: it would not be getting the expanded London weekend contract that would have Friday evenings added to it. That, unless something absolutely startling happened, would be going to ABC.
But the newly redivided central areas of ITV would not be the roughly even thirds of the 1955-68 four companies in three regions system. There was no way to do that with five companies in four regions.
Of the new contact areas, the Midlands was the plum. It would have the biggest population and viewership over 7 days. The previous top contract, London weekdays, would be second as it had lost the profitable Friday evening whilst retaining the loss-making public service stuff during the day. Only if slow and gentlemanly Rediffusion was replaced by something more dynamic in the advertising sales department would this not be so.
And ATV could keep making its variety shows in London for weekend nights, as the London weekend company would still want them and there was no chance of the new contractor deciding to junk the popular stuff and choosing to compete with BBC-2, of all things, by running opera and arts programmes and impenetrable drama on Saturday and Sunday nights.
So this was not bad news for ATV, and anyway, in a shareholders’ report like this, even unwelcome news needs to be talked up.
THE NEW MIDLAND CONTRACT. I have already referred to the new seven-day-a-week Contract for the Midlands (10.4 million population) which the Authority has awarded to your Company.
This is the Contract for which your Company applied. It enables us to enlarge our long-standing interest in the Midlands, and also to maintain the greatest possible output of programmes for the national network.
From the outset of Independent Television, ATV has urged undivided weekly working as preferable in every way to the weekday/week-end split; and your Company is delighted that it will now be able to provide the unified and unbroken seven-day-a-week service which the Midland viewer deserves.
Shareholders will appreciate that the previous short Licence period of three years, the extension of one year, and uncertainties as to the future shape of Independent Television, rendered long term planning impossible. For the first time, your Company con see a clear course ahead of it, and a new studio complex will be erected. Plans for this were commissioned over three years ago. The studios will be the most up-to-date in the country and will be built with all the requirements of Colour in mind.
Now that the Authority has clarified the whole position, and ATV Network con concentrate its interest on the Midlands viewer, the Board of ATV Network will be strengthened by the addition of leading Midlands figures, and resident Executive Directors from within the Company.
I am very happy indeed that it should be Mr. Bill Ward, for so long one of the key men in ATV who becomes an Executive Director of ATV Network. Mr. Leonard Mathews, who, as Midlands Controller, has played such an important role for the Company, has also been appointed to the Board.
THE MIDLANDS. Both local and nationally networked programmes hove shown a notable increase during the past year.
The daily serial, “Crossroads,” continues to enjoy top programme ratings, and the televising of the 500th episode in 1966 was celebrated by a dinner in Birmingham attended by viewers drawn from all parts of the United Kingdom.
ATV’s weekday network programme for children, “Tingha and Tucker Club” — the most popular in British television — has been joined by a Sunday network programme, “Tree House Family,” which is now seen in over 4 million homes.
The new regular weekly programme, “Midland Member,” enables a Member of Parliament from one of the 107 constituencies in the area to give a first-hand account of the work at Westminster; this is now recognised os providing one of the most important political contributions to Midlands life.
The magazine programme, “ATV Today,” continues to attract an audience of well over three million viewers; and, during the year ATV’s film unit covered more than 70,000 miles in collecting items for “Midland News.” No fewer than 66 Midland news stories provided by ATV appeared in the national news service of ITN.
In co-operation with the Midlands Police Forces, ATV has presented 52 episodes of the weekly “Police Five” programme. Over 250 crimes have been reported, and the police regard the information provided by television viewers as responsible, in at least ten per cent of the cases, for the successful outcome of police enquiries.
For the fifth successive year, ATV’s presentation of the Royal Show from the National Agricultural Centre, Kenilworth, received nation-wide coveroge.
VIEWING HOURS. ATV shareholders and the viewing public at large should be aware of the fact that your Company, in common with all other Independent Television companies, is denied the right to provide the full and comprehensive service which it is naturally anxious to present. Hours of transmission ore rigidly restricted by order of the Postmaster General, and protests from the Company have proved unavailing. The Authority has listened sympathetically, and is fully aware of the extra programmes which your Company is seeking to provide. Your Company has all the facilities for the immediate provision of the extra hours. Nevertheless, the ban remains, in spite of the fact that the BBC with its two services now provides some thirty more hours of broadcasting each week than is permitted to Independent Television.
COLOUR. In my last Report I stressed the fact that the ATV Network studios at Elstree would, by the autumn of 1966, be fully equipped for Colour operations in the various international line standards. This has been accomplished, and major drama productions electronically recorded in Colour now include three plays, namely “Ivanov” with Sir John Gielgud; “The Tormentors” starring James Mason and Stanley Baker; and “Present Laughter” with Peter O’Toole and Honor Blackman.
Light entertainment productions in Colour include the two-hour programme, “The Heart of Show Business,” in aid of the Aberfan victims; a series of 13 one-hour productions, “Piccadilly Palace,” with Morecambe and Wise, and Millicent Martin; and a series of 26 one-hour programmes, “Spotlight,” with British, American, and other international star artists.
All these productions are additional to the Colour programmes on film, to which I have referred earlier, and to mony documentary programmes made in Colour. Taken together, they constitute the largest library of TV Colour productions in Great Britain.
I am delighted that one of our news film teams, Mr. Gary Hughes and Mr. Noel Smart, should have won the Bronze Medal in the “hard news” section of the 1966 British Television News Film awards. This is the second year running in which ATV network has won on award.
ALPHA STUDIOS, ASTON. ATV Midland transmissions are co-ordinated through the Presentation Centre of Aston, either for networking or for routing to the Authority’s transmitters at Lichfield and Membury.
The Alpha Studios accommodate nearly one hundred hours of rehearsals, recordings and transmissions each week.
SALES. During a year in which there was a standstill in television advertising rates under the tight economic conditions of the “Squeeze,” the Sales Department of ATV Network nonetheless achieved an increase in net revenue of some 4½%. This growth was accomplished in a year when total national advertising appropriations fell for the first time since 1946.
ATV Network has developed the whole scope of television advertising. Holiday Tours, Fashion, and the Big Stores ore all now represented on the London screen; and, in the Midlands, the service has been extended to small businesses, retail shops and garages. Local advertisements now amount to some 1,500 a year. Moreover, industry throughout the Midlands responded warmly to the introduction by ATV Network of a Staff Recruitment Bureau, and viewers have been informed of over 500 vacancies, ranging from drivers and clerks to management accountants and project engineers.
ATV’s “Midlands Merchandiser,” a trade paper for grocers, now reaches more than 8,000 shops, and provides the only service in the industry which forms a direct link between television and the retailer.
“TV WORLD.” The programme journal for the Midlands is owned jointly by ATV Network and ABC Television, and is published by Odhams Press.
From the outset, this magazine set up new publishing records. The circulation has risen steadily from 640,000 when the magazine first appeared in September, 1964, to the figure of over 737,000 at which it stands today. A long and prosperous future had, therefore, confidently been foreseen. Under a new ruling by the Authority, however, separate programme publications will cease after July, 1968, and a national weekly, with regional editions, published on behalf of all companies will supersede them.
I must, on behalf of viewers in the Midlands, enter a plea that the distinctive character and individuality of “TV WORLD” should be preserved intact in the new publication.
QUEEN’S AWARD FOR EXPORT ACHIEVEMENT. “Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased to confer Her Award in 1967 upon Associated Television Ltd., London, W.1, for export achievement” — I quote the wording of the official citation which gave the world of British entertainment its first Queen’s Award to Industry.
The formal presentation of the Award was made by Major-General Sir George Burns, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Hertfordshire. The ceremony, which the Postmaster-General and members of the Independent Television Authority attended, took place on 4th July in your Company’s Elstree Studios.
I will not attempt to conceal my feelings of pride when I first read the Royal message. Nor will I conceal the fact that I regard it, in unique degree, as public recognition of the untiring work and devotion over the years of one man, your joint Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr. Lew Grade.
Shareholders should know that the establishment of a television export market for films has been a long, arduous and, at the outset, a heart-breakingly frustrating business. One by one, Mr. Grade has overcome the objections raised by foreign buyers when offered British products; and it is not too much to say that, through his efforts, your subsidiary, Incorporated Television Company, is now one of the most sought-after production sources in the world.
Knowing the strains that are involved in the many and complex transactions I am glad to think that, on his visits abroad, Mr. Grade should have your Managing Director, Mr. Robin Gill, there beside him. Together I believe, they represent the world’s strongest partnership in television film production and international distribution.
ATV EXPORTS TODAY. The turnover figure for your Company’s export of television programmes continues to rise steadily. U.S. dollar sales have passed the $10,000,000 [$91.1m] mark and sales in the European Hemisphere have correspondingly increased. There is every indication that this present trend will not only be maintained, but will be improved upon.
INDEPENDENT TELEVISION CORPORATION. This year your Company will have no fewer than five Colour television series on the American networks. This is the highest number in the history of the Company. In addition, a number of individual plays and documentaries have been sold to the American networks.
These results in the United States could not have been achieved without your Company’s American subsidiary, Independent Television Corporation.
INCORPORATED TELEVISION COMPANY. Nor could these export results have been obtained had it not been for the magnificent work of your production group, Incorporated Television Company. The schedule of work in hand has never been so extensive as at the present moment, and the following series, all in Colour, are currently reaching completion: “Man in a Suitcase”; “The Prisoner”; “The Saint”; “Spotlight”; “Piccadilly Palace”; “The Champions.”
The wealth of British talent among producers, directors, script writers and actors available to I T C has led to a deal with United Artists for three feature films starring Roger Moore. Further feature film productions are in negotiation. All of these are for distribution to cinemas throughout the world.
In addition to its production activities, Incorporated Television Company is responsible for Eastern Hemisphere television sales where the year produced record results. Your company’s programmes are now being shown in 62 countries on this side of the Atlantic alone.
STOLL THEATRES CORPORATION. I am happy to be able to report that this Group, under the chairmanship of Mr. Prince Littler, has enjoyed another successful year.
The current production, “Fiddler On The Roof” at Her Majesty’s Theatre has proved a triumph, and “There’s A Girl In My Soup” at the Globe Theatre has established itself as one of the outstanding attractions of the West End stage. Earlier in the year the centre of theatrical London was to be found at the Queen’s Theatre, which housed Noel Coward’s “Suite In Three Keys,” and the National Theatre Season.
The London Palladium pantomime, “Cinderella,” again broke all records, and “The Black & White Minstrel Show” at the Victoria Palace continues undiminished into its sixth year.
The satisfactory results of the Stoll Theatres Corporation have been achieved despite the dual burdens of Selective Employment Tax and rising costs. Elsewhere in the West End, however, and among the provincial theatres the effects of rising costs and S.E.T. have been most damaging.
PROPERTIES — CENTURY 21 — PYE RECORDS — MUSIC PUBLISHING – MUZAK — BOWLING
PROPERTIES. During the year we have brought our many property interests together within Bentray Investments. We now have a steady programme of improvement and expansion planned for the years ahead.
CENTURY 21. On both sides of the Atlantic it is acknowledged that the “Thunderbirds” series of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson established entirely new levels in film-making ingenuity. Equally remarkable technical advances have now been achieved with a new range of puppets which will be seen for the first time in “Captain Scarlet,” a series of 32 half-hour episodes currently in production in Colour.
CENTURY 21 MERCHANDISING LTD. — PUBLISHING LTD. — TOYS LTD. The business of these three companies is the exploitation of subsidiary rights in television and motion picture properties.
In conjunction with City Magazines Ltd., a subsidiary of the “News of the World,” four children’s weeklies are now being produced and “TV Century 21” and “Lady Penelope” in particular enjoy outstanding success.
PYE RECORDS. The year’s trading has been highly satisfactory. Among Pye Records successes are the First and Second Prize winners in the Eurovision Song Contest. Pye Records has, furthermore, established its Marble Arch Label in the forefront of the growing market for lower-priced LPs.
Overseas, the sale of Pye Records has increased by nearly 9%.
MUSIC PUBLISHING. Our joint companies with Chappells are progressing well.
MUZAK. Over 180 leading companies, practically all household names in British industry, now have the Muzak service of background music installed in one or more of their premises. The rate of recruitment to the Muzak service is greater than at any previous time in the company’s history, and shows recognition of the fact that Muzak provides the only programmed background music service with completely non-repetitive new programmes every day.
AMBASSADOR BOWLING. This company continues to operate profitably despite reduced attendance at bowling centres throughout the country.
TOP DIRECTION — YOUR BOARD – INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS — ATV STAFF
TOP DIRECTION. The rate at which your Company has developed and the steadily widening scope of what I have referred to in earlier Reports as our policy of “Planned Expansion,” has necessitated a new framework at the top.
The new post of Chief Executive has been created, ond this will naturally be filled by Mr. Lew Grade. Knowing, as I do, what every phase of your Company’s activities owes to the brilliant direction of Mr. Grade, let me add that it is only fitting that he should also be appointed a Deputy Chairman of your Company.
The name of Mr. Grade is synonymous with the emergence, over little more than a decode, of the name of ATV as a Company of world-wide standing; and I am delighted to have this opportunity of congratulating him.
I can, moreover, regard myself as fortunate in having on the Board a Deputy Managing Director in the person of Mr. Robin Gill, to whom the wider duties of Managing Director can so confidently be entrusted. I om happy to add my thanks to Mr. Gill for the great part which he is playing in your Company’s affairs. The partnership between Mr. Grade ond Mr. Gill to which I have referred earlier in connection with our Overseas Sales, is one which I am happy to say extends also to every aspect of your Company’s business.
During the post year. Mr. Grade become Chairman of Independent Television’s Network Planning Committee, and Mr. Robin Gill hos been asked to continue for a further period as Chairman of the Independent Television Companies Association.
My thanks, too, must go to the Company’s Finance Director, Mr. Jack Gill whose contribution to the running of the Company has proved of immense value.
Finally, I have to report that, owing to other business commitments, Mr. R. P. T. Gibson has tendered his resignation from your Board. Mr. Gibson has been a Director of your Company since 1957, ond I om only sorry that this long connection should now be broken.
BOARD OF ASSOCIATED TELEVISION. Let me say how deeply appreciative I am of all the help which I have received over the year from the various members of your most distinguished and experienced Board.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS. Despite the unprecedented problems set by the Government’s Prices and Incomes policy, the Group has been able to continue its progressive approach towards the Unions, and has maintained good relations with its staff and with the Unions with which it negotiates.
A completely new system to productivity payments on the part of ATV Network Ltd. was worked out with the Unions and has been approved by the Ministry of Labour. New inter-Union arrangements were negotiated for Century 21 Productions, and these will eliminate various awkward lines of demarcation.
MANAGEMENT AND STAFF. My co-Directors join me in expressing their warmest thanks to everyone at all levels: Managerial staff, sales staff, accountancy staff and secretarial staff play their part equally with the technicians, the skilled craftsmen and the artistic producers and directors within the Company, and without their loyal and untiring efforts these admirable results could never have been attained.
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.