The 13th Annual General Meeting of Associated Television Corporation Limited was held at ATV House, Great Cumberland Place, London, W.1, on 26th September, 1968 at 12 noon.
The following are extracts from the Chairman’s Statement read at the meeting.
Since the year end we have been able to announce a further multi-million dollar U.S. deal for a new Millicent Martin television film series.
ATV Corporation is already one of the world’s greatest producers of filmed television series for international distribution. Current production costs run at some £7 million [£101.8m in today’s money allowing for inflation – Ed] a year and by 1970, when we will also be among the world’s greatest producers of feature films for international distribution, ATV’s annual expenditure will have been approximately doubled. Very large revenues indeed will by then be flowing in from overseas and these, of course, are in no way subject to the Turnover Levy which falls so heavily upon ATV Network.
A recent issue of The Financial Times quoted a table showing the major U.K. companies in order of merit judged by their net profit as a percentage of capital invested. We were delighted to see that ATV came fifteenth out of all British Industry. This is a very high tribute to your management team led by Mr Lew Grade our Chief Executive, Mr. Robin Gill our Managing Director and Mr. Jack Gill our Finance Director.
The financing of Paradise Centre and the Group’s general needs are being looked at with our advisers, so that we have the appropriate cash available for our planned expansion.
The following are extracts from the Directors Report for the year ended 31st March, 1968.
The profit for the Group, before Levy and taxation, is £12,369,000 [£179.8m], an increase of £530,000 [£7.7m] over the results of last year.
This improvement is more than offset, however, by the increased amount of Levy (£6,186,000 [£89.9m] this year as against £5,761,000 [£83.8m] last year) in respect of your Company’s ATV Network operation, and the increased amount of taxation (£2,770,000 [£40.3m] as against £2,348,000 [£34.1m] last year) for the Group as a whole. Levy and taxation together reduce the Group’s profit to £3,413,000 [£49.6m] which is £317,000 [£4.6m] less than last year.
In the light of these trading results, your Board nevertheless feels fully justified in recommending on increase in the rate of dividend for the year. The final dividend of 15.9625% will bring the total for the year to 28.4625% (as against 27.5% lost year). This represents the maximum increase permitted by the Treasury.
Shareholders’ funds are £23,812,000 [£346.2m], as against £22,708,000 [£330.1m] for 1967.
The proportion of Group Profits attributable to Subsidiaries has, during the year, risen to 45% as against 42% in the previous year and 30% for the year 1965/66. Inspection of the Group’s Financial Statistics will, indeed, reveal that progress in the Group’s trading activities outside the TV operation has been both rapid and consistent, viz., the conversion of a net loss situation of £303,000 [£4.4m] in 1962 into a profit figure of £2,749,000 [£40m] in this year’s Accounts.
The value of Group Export sales for the year totalled £5,650,000 [£82.1m].
ATV had long concentrated investment on its Elstree studios, equipping them ready for 625-line colour and the coming of their seven-day London UHF contract. With London off the menu – not just the ITV-2 part but also their existing London weekend service – attention would now have to be paid to Birmingham.
The existing studios for the region were out at Aston Cross, in a converted ABC cinema, and were jointly operated by ABC and ATV. With ABC off to London to become the driving force behind Thames, that left ATV paying for a building without sharing costs. The studios were also old, cramped by comparison with the new ones going up in Leeds and on the Euston Road in London, and need refitting for colour. Why pay for the installation of new lighting rigs and wiring and all the other things needed for colour and 625 in a building in the middle of nowhere when city centre studios are all the rage?
It would be better to build new and, ATV being ATV, why not turn this into an opportunity for expansion?
The company had paid off the mortgage on Elstree early, and owned ATV House on Great Cumberland Street outright as well. There were also patches of land – in Vauxhall, for instance – bought up in case of future need or just as something to do with all the cash on hand. This was a very good start for a property development subsidiary.
Bentray Investments is what Robert Holmes a’Court really wanted when he bought the Corporation in 1982. By that time it was sat on a huge property portfolio and there was an evident office and leisure building boom coming in that decade. But here we are at the start of things, and Bentray has one job to do to prove itself: take a parcel of awkwardly shaped and placed land in the middle of Birmingham and build a modern 625-line colour studio and administration centre. And make it profitable outside of just charging fellow-subsidiary ATV Network rent.
Birmingham, which has been knocked down and rebuilt several times over the last 150 years for various reasons and to various designs from ‘okay’ to ‘urban nightmare’, was being rebuilt again, this time in fashionable concrete. There was basically a blank slate for Bentray – the city council would accept almost anything modern that wasn’t an area of wasteland and part-demolished cinema any more. The studios, a multi-storey car park (Birmingham: motorway city of the 70s!) and a shiny tall hotel and conference centre would be very welcome indeed.
The resulting site was very nice indeed. Late, but then all construction projects are late. A bit sterile, but it’s concrete and glass. And, ATV being ATV, the ‘Paradise Centre’ name soon fell away: this was to be the ‘ATV Centre’.
TELEVISION AND RELATED ACTIVITIES
New ITA Contract. ATV Network Limited was awarded the Independent Television Authority’s Contract for the Midlands Area for six years, commencing 30th July, 1968. This is the major Contract under the current allocation of the Independent Television Authority.
New Midlands Studios. By the end of 1969, the Television Studio portion of the new ‘Paradise Centre’ in Birmingham will be complete. These studios will be fully equipped for the start of Independent Television’s Colour transmissions at the end of 1969, and will be the most modem in the world. Every advantage will be token of the latest technological developments In the television field, and of our years of experience with colour programming at Elstree.
PROGRAMMES FOR ALL SEASONS
During the year your Company mode more than 1,000 contributions to the Network, and fully maintained its leading position among the Independent Television programme makers.
One programme, the Royal Variety Performance, established a new record. Designed as a charity show in aid of the Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund, and given in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, this production was seen in 11½ million homes, representing some 40 million viewers.
‘Spotlight,’ a production for CBS of America, and ‘Show Time,’ seen on the same trans-Atlantic network, were both among the Colour programmes produced in ATV studios. Indeed, in the whole matter of Colour, ATV has been to the forefront. Even while home-viewers could see ATV programmes only in black-and-white, the Documentary department has been producing in full Colour. One programme in particular, ‘The Last Shangri-La,’ has been internationally acclaimed for the beauty of its photography.
FILM PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION
ITC—Incorporated Television Company. It is this company which is responsible for all ATV’s film productions, and for distribution of films and television programmes in the Eastern hemisphere.
The current production schedule is an unusually full one. No fewer than four series are currently being filmed. Sales, moreover, are fully abreast of production.
Independent Television Corporation. This company, which acts as distributor of ATV films and television programmes throughout the Western hemisphere, has enjoyed an outstanding 12 months’ trading. The current year promises to be equally rewarding. ATV Series ‘Man in a Suitcase,’ ‘The Saint,’ ‘The Prisoner,’ ‘Show Time,’ and ‘The Champions’ hove all been shown on the U.S. Networks.
Century 21 Productions. The puppet films made by Century 21 Productions are world-famous in television and cinema alike. A new TV series, ‘Joe 90,’ is now ready; ‘The Secret Service,’ a revolutionary piece of production in which a live actor doubles with his puppet counterpart, is already on the studio floor.
Stoll Theatres Corporation. This Group has enjoyed a record year. It is particularly pleasing to announce that your theatre, the London Coliseum, has now become the new Opera House for Sadler’s Wells.
RECORDS AND MUSIC
Pye Records. Pye Records had a conspicuously successful year with profits again reaching a new record level. In 48 weeks out of 52, it has appeared among the Top Twenty despite the increased efforts of American competitors.
Music Publishing. Our existing companies, Welbeck Music, New World Music and Jubilee Music, continue to produce excellent results, and active steps are being taken to enlarge the scope of our music publishing interests.
PROPERTY AND INVESTMENT
Properties. All the various property assets of the Group are being concentrated within our subsidiary company Bentray Investments Limited.
These properties make an exciting portfolio with every indication of steady income growth over the years. There ore also large-scale development possibilities in the long-term in connection with certain of them though, for the time being, there are Government restrictions on office development and building in city centres.
The first major development of Bentray will take place in Birmingham. This, the ‘Paradise Centre’ site adjacent to the Town Hall in the heart of the city, will ultimately comprise a 6-acre development which is unique in character, and the final cost could exceed £15 million [£218m].
Canada. Our investments in British Columbia Television and CJCH Halifax are held by our wholly owned subsidiary, Canastel Broodcasting Corporation.
British Columbia Television has commenced to pay dividends and the company has achieved excellent growth during the lost two or three years. In the cose of CJCH the progress is slower and the market a more difficult one. However, in our opinion the value of our investment is well protected.
Ambassador Bowling. This company has continued to be profitable. Indeed, the general recession in the industry which has led to the closure of a number of competing bowling centres has proved a direct benefit to Ambassador Bowling.
Planned Music Group. Substantial progress was mode during the past year. It is calculated that approximately 3½ million people in the United Kingdom listen to Muzak every week, and this number is growing steadily. Worth-while contracts for the supply of equipment hove been obtained from Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and Israel.
Bermans. This company has hod the most successful year in its history. On the continent, Bermans is now recognised as the major film and theatrical costumiers of Europe.
MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
The Board wishes to express its most sincere thanks to those members of ATV’s staff at all levels who have so conscientiously served the Corporation during the past year.
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.