The Independent Television Commission (ITC) licensed and regulated commercial television services in the United Kingdom except S4C in Wales between 1st January 1991 and 28th December 2003. It was set up under the terms of the Broadcasting Act 1990, which reorganised British commercial broadcasting.

Between 1st January 1991 and 31st December 1992, the ITC operated under the powers of the former Independent Broadcasting Authority (under the Broadcasting Acts 1954-1981), and regulated the ITV network, and operated Channel 4. It used this time to auction the Channel 3 licences for the fifteen ITV regions and breakfast time. Most of the Channel 3 licences were awarded to the incumbent ITV companies, however there were some controversial decisions:

  • Carlton Television outbid Thames Television for the London Weekday licence.
  • GMTV (Sunrise Television) outbid TV-am for the Breakfast Time licence.
  • Television South and Television South West were deemed to have overbid for their licences, and hence their franchises were awarded to lower bidders Meridian Broadcasting and Westcountry Television.

The ITC also during this time appointed the board for the new Channel 4 Television Corporation, a public corporation which would take over the operation of Channel 4 from the ITC's subsidary, Channel Four Television Company Limited.

On 1st January 1993 these new arrangements came into force, and the ITC began its job of "light touch regulation". During this time, the ITC regulated the Channel 3 system as well as Channel 4. It issued licences to new satellite broadcasters and awarded the Channel 5 licence in the late 1990s. It also regulated cable TV.

However the British government, in a White Paper, declared its intention to merge the ITC with the Radio Authority, Office of Telecommunications, and Radio Communications Agency. This merger, under the Communications Act 2003, took effect on 29th December 2003. The powers of the ITC are now excercised by the Office of Communications (OFCOM).

See also: UK topics