The 14th Annual General Meeting of Associated Television Corporation Limited was held at ATV House. Great Cumberland Place. London, W.1. on 25th September, 1969 at 12 noon.
The following ore extracts from the Directors’ Report for the year ended 30th March, 1969.
Sir Lew Grade. Your Board was truly delighted to learn on January 1st that Her Majesty hod bestowed the honour of a knighthood upon Sir Lew Grade for his services to export. This wos a magnificent recognition of the untiring efforts Sir Lew has mode on behalf of your Corporation in overseas markets.
Queen’s Award. The Company’s 1968-69 year is memorable for another reason, for we were notified that your Company was to receive a second Queen’s Award to Industry for its export achievement.
The profit for the Group before levy and taxation is £11,042,000 [£152.5m in today’s money allowing for inflation – Ed] a decrease of £1,327,000 [£18.3m] from last year. After the payment of £5,431,000 [£75m] for Levy and £2,498,000 [£34.5m] in taxation, the Group profit is £3,113,000 [£43m], which is £300,000 [£4.1m] less than last year. The Board has considered these results and has decided to recommend a final dividend of 12.9625%, making the total distribution for the year 28.4625% (same).
Shareholders’ Funds are £24,238,000 [£334.8m], compared with £23,812,000 [£328.9m] for 1968.
Last year’s report faithfully parroted the line that the seven-day Midland contract was worth more than the 5-day Midland/2-day London one ATV had previously held. Certainly on paper, from the ITA’s analysis, that should have been true.
But moving ABC’s pushy sales staff from working their Birmingham and Manchester beat to become the sales department of new London weekday contractor Thames had upturned those calculations. The troubles at London Weekend Television hadn’t helped either: with audiences deserting the upmarket company, advertisers had followed and they had flocked to Thames. Success begets success and Thames was able to point to the surge in advertising as a reason to advertise on Thames, sucking ad spend away from ATV, Granada and Yorkshire as well.
Meanwhile, the Corporation continues to expand away from television interests by buying a share of the Lennon-McCartney song catalogue. Whilst The Beatles would officially split at the end of next year, that slice of Northern Songs would remain one of the most valuable parts of the Corporation, with radio play and album purchasing of the group’s music continuing until today. ATV Music appears to be the last part of the empire to keep the ATV name – long after even the Associated Television Corporation had dropped the name. Sony/ATV Music wouldn’t drop the ATV name until 2019, which is why it remained normal to see ATV credited in the end titles of movies and television programmes – including in the titles of Neighbours.
BENEFITS OF DIVERSIFICATION
It must be recognised that ATV Network’s seven-day licence in the Midlands will be less profitable than the two-day London and five-day Midlands licence which ATV previously held. Not only is the income from advertising inherently lower, but servicing of the capital required to provide the new Midlands studios complete with equipment for colour, rising costs, the heavy incidence of S.E.T. and, above all, the increased rote of the Turnover Levy combine to produce a situation which cannot be regarded as other than financially unsatisfactory.
It is because the margin of profits of the television operation is bound to be severely reduced that your Directors are pleased to be able to report the success of their policy of diversification. In the year under review the profits of ATV’s non-television subsidiaries already amount to no less than 51% of your Group’s total profits and, in the current year, the advantages to your Corporation of planned expansion outside the television network operation will become increasingly apparent.
TELEVISION AND RELATED ACTIVITIES
New Midland Studios. We ore well pleased with the progress in completing our new television studios of Paradise Centre in Birmingham which will be available for transmissions from the target date next month. However, it will not be before the early part of 1970 that all parts of the Paradise Centre Television Studios will be fully operational.
Programmes. The centre of ATV Network’s activities is in its programmes. In spite of the many difficulties of the post year, ATV has once again produced a wide range of programmes of all types. There hove been indications of o reduction in the total amount of viewing for television programmes. The largest proportion of the decline has fallen to BBC programming in spite of its control of two channels ond monopoly of free advertising for its television programmes on BBC rodio. In the last six months, ATV Network’s proportion of the total television audience has risen substantially, ond now stands at approximately 56%, with BBC 1 and BBC 2 combined having 44%.
FILM PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION
During the course of the year, this division of the Group further extended the already wide ranqe of its activities.
ITC’s sales effort embraces every category of film ond television programmes — from documentaries ond religion on the one hand through the whole range of drama series to international variety, sport ond feature films.
It is unprecedented for any British company to have four major variety shows and four filmed series on the American networks in the same year.
The Stoll Theatre Corporation has had another successful year. Total admission receipts were slightly up although, due to rising costs and in particular the unfair burden of S.E.T., profits were marginally down.
MERCHANDISING AND PUBLISHING
Your merchandising and general publishing activities are now grouped together under Century 21 Enterprises. The merchandising division has been successful in obtaining exploitation rights for properties both inside ond outside the field of television. We hove been appointed exclusive licensees to handle a majority of CBS properties in the U.K. A new children’s comic titled ‘Joe 90’ was successfully launched and ‘TV 21,’ our other children’s weekly, celebrated its fourth anniversory.
RECORDS AND MUSIC
Pye Records. During the year, we completed a re-equipment of our recording studios with the most modern equipment and we are now able to record in eight track. This technical improvement hos attracted a great deal of further business to our studios from other record companies and third parties.
New overseas licensing arrangements have been made in many overseas countries, including Japan, Denmark, India and Pakistan. We are also delighted to report that exports increased by 41% over the previous yeor.
Soho Record Shops. During the year we completed negotiations to acquire the remaining 49% of the Alex Strickland chain of retail shops called Soho Record Shops.
Other Developments. Negotiations hove been completed with General Recorded Tape Company of California to form a joint record company in the States and negotiations are progressing to form a joint company in the U.K. for the manufacture of recorded tapes, cartridges and cassettes. This is a development of major importance for our record ond music division.
Music Publishing. In line with our policy of planned expansion in the music publishing field, on agreement was reached for the purchase of a 32.1% share in Northern Songs, additional to the 2.7% which ATV already owned. As part of the agreement, an offer was made for the purchase of the remaining shareholding in the company. This offer has now lapsed and your Board is keeping the position under review. Meanwhile, Mr. Jack Gill and Mr. Louis Benjamin have been elected to the Board of Northern Songs to represent your interests.
Welbeck Music continues to flourish. It has extended its agreements with the Music Corporation of America and has also formed two new music companies with M.C.A.
PROPERTY AND INVESTMENT
Bentray’s first major development, Paradise Centre in Birmingham has got off to a good start. The television studios will be fully complete in the Autumn, approximately twelve months after a start was made.
We are now embarking on the second stage, the building of car parks, restaurant and multi-purpose Hall/Theatre together with some offices ond a canteen for ATV Network. The foundations of the tower block are also being laid at the present time and we hope this great feature in Birmingham will be completed in 1972. Negotiations for an hotel are also well advanced.
British Relay Wireless and Television Ltd. BRW, in which we have on important investment, continues to move steadily ahead. The Group is one of the largest rental and relay organisations in the U.K. and long-term prospects remain extremely bright.
Canada. During the year a contract was mode with Western Broadcasting Company of Vancouver to sell our investment holding company in Canada — Canastel Broadcasting Corporation — at a price around $2½million [C$20m]. The necessary Government consents have been obtained and completion was effected at the end of July. This sale represents a profit on the original investment of approximately $1 million [C$8m].
Ambassador Bowling. In spite of the very adverse conditions in the Bowling Industry which resulted in the closure of twenty bowling centres operated by competitors, your subsidiary company, Ambassador Bowling, has remained profitable.
Planned Music. Soles of contracts for Muzak continue to improve and hove now reached a record level with a 20% rise on the preceding year.
Bermans. The post year turned out to be outstandingly successful for Bermans. Its profits increased by 70% to a record level. The Company’s established position as a leading costumier to the theatrical industry outside the United States has been further strengthened.
MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
The past year has been a difficult one for the United Kingdom’s economy as a whole and this has produced many snags and problems for the managements of your Group of Companies. In particular the problems arising in Independent Television have been extreme. Your Boord wishes to express its gratitude to the management of all ATV’s companies and their staff for their efforts over 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.