Adjusting your aerial

HTV began transmissions on this day in 1968.

Harlech Television was awarded its contract by the Independent Television Authority in July 1967, replacing the incumbent TWW. While no official reason was given for the decision, it was believed TWW’s preferral to base its corporate headquarters in London, rather than within the region, played a key factor. Harlech would base its headquarters within the transmission area, based out of TWW’s former studios at Pontcanna in Cardiff and Bath Road in Bristol. TWW refused to purchase shares in the new consortium and opted to cease broadcasting early on Sunday 4 March 1968, selling its remaining airtime to Harlech for £500,000. As the new service was not ready to launch, an unbranded emergency service was provided by former TWW staff until Harlech’s launch on Monday 20 May 1968. The opening night was marked by a networked variety special.

Initially, the station used the name Harlech Television (after the head of the company, Lord Harlech), but from the introduction of colour on 6 April 1970, this was dropped in favour of the shortened acroynym HTV, which was simpler and largely ended concerns from the West of England, that the Harlech branding was only associated with the Welsh part of the dual region.

Harlech’s first ident on 20 May 1968 featured two words ‘Harlech’ spinning in opposite ways and which eventually met up to form one word. This design would have been clearly seen to viewers of the service then, however viewers today would have encountered lots of black lines and a barely noticeable ‘Harlech’. This is due to the fact that the ident was designed for 405-line television system used at the time, and due to the use of 625-line UHF system, the ident appears differently on sets that receive the 625-line transmission.

When colour broadcasting commenced on 6 April 1970, a new logo was unveiled. Due to criticism from viewers in the West of England, concerning the bias towards Wales that Harlech presented, the new logo featured the letters ‘HTV’. The symbol created, named “The Aerial”, featured the letters HTV in such a way that it looks like a television aerial – the logo went on to become HTV’s longest serving identity, surviving until December 1992. The aerial would animate on through use of lines, accompanied by the same jingle as used before. The white logo on blue background was seen plain when both Wales and the West received the programme, but would otherwise have the region name included. For the west, this was ‘West’ at the top of the logo between the ‘H’ and ‘V’, whereas for Wales, the caption Cymru Wales was placed at the bottom of the logo, as a reference that Welsh programming was still shown on the channel.

These idents continued until 1987, when the idents were dropped in favour of an updated computer generated sequence. On 28 September 1987, by this time the blocks flew out of a large suspended blue surface and landed to form the HTV aerial logo on a dark blue background.

HTV adopted the first ITV generic look on 1 September 1989, and it was their slanted ‘H; that appeared in their regional section of the ITV logo. Despite the video sequence being the same, there were three variations of the ident, all featuring a different lower caption; HTV, HTV Wales and HTV West. In addition, HTV also made their own variation where the HTV logo remained on-screen the whole time. The corporate idents were dropped on Thursday 31 December 1992.

In their place, a new HTV logo was designed and unveiled on Friday 1 January 1993, featuring an upright, but stylised HTV, with two triangles for the ‘V’ section. Originally this logo was seen as a translucent blue logo moving back onto a multi-coloured blue background accompanied by an ambient tune. This was later changed to a more upbeat tune, ending in a more noticeable crescendo. This ident package marked the end of specific idents for Wales and the West, as all of the idents that followed used the single HTV brand, though separate continuity for the two services, albeit now out of vision, was retained, this presentation package remained popular until 1 January 1995.

On Monday 2 January 1995, the ident was re-altered to include small triangles which grew and combined to form the triangular ‘V’ and the remainder of the HTV logo. The accompanying music was stronger than its predecessor, and the colours were warmer than previous, with a gold HTV and a changing blue, green background and remained on screen for four years until 7 March 1999. Around this time, a large number of specialised idents were introduced – such as variations on the main sequence, specific genre idents and a special presentation package to mark HTV’s 30th anniversary in 1998.

On Monday 8 March 1999, HTV introduced what would be its last in-house presentation package, featuring the camera panning over the HTV logo in dark blue against a bright yellow background and accompanied by two remixes to its predecessor (although the tune from the previous ident was used on some occasions).

Nine months later, HTV, as part of UNM, adopted the second ITV generic look based on the theme of ‘Hearts’. However, when UNM was merged into Granada, the broadcasting arm of HTV was sold to Carlton to comply with competition laws. As a result, from 2 July 2001 HTV adopted, in part, Carlton’s star branding. The resultant idents featured Carlton’s ‘Star’ opening films, before the screen flashed white, drawing back to become the ‘V’ in the HTV logo against the spinning hearts background as used previously.

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