ABC logo, 1960s
Associated British Corporation or ABC Television was the British Independent Television (ITV) (commercial television) contractor on Saturdays and Sundays in the Midlands and North of England between 1956 and 1968.
ABC was one of a number of commercial television companies set up in the 1950s by cinema chains in an attempt to safeguard their business by getting involved in television which was taking away their cinema audiences. In this case, the parent company was the Associated British Picture Corporation which obtained the franchise to operate commercial television in two separate areas when the ITA awarded the first franchises on 26 October 1954.
The franchises awarded were to broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays to the Midlands and to the North of England.
In less than 18 months ABC were on air in the Midlands, the service launching on 18 February 1956. Soon afterwards, they were up and running in the North - they went on air there for the first time on 5 May 1956.
ABC's original presentation style was criticised by the ITA for being bland. Taking this criticism to heart, ABC developed a strong corporate identity, effectively becoming the first British TV station to recognse the importance of corporate branding. Its new animated logo showed three triangles joining up to form a bigger triangle (in geometry the points of a triangle are often labelled A, B and C), accompanied by a xylophone playing "la-te-doh" (i. e., "A-B-C").
Weekend franchises were scrapped - except in the London area - in the 1967 round of franchise renewals. ABC then looked further afield, pinning its hopes on the London weekend franchise although they also had an offer in for the Midlands weekday contract. In the event, ABC were offered the London weekdays franchise on condition that it merged with Associated-Rediffusion. This was agreed, with profits being shared equally between the two but with ABC maintaining control over the new merged company, Thames Television.
Thames Television in its turn lost its franchise in the 1991-2 round of franchise renewals, although the company continues to exist as an independent programme producer.
Networked programmes from ABC included Police Surgeon, The Avengers, Armchair Theatre and Callan (which became a Thames production after 1968).