Here are the facts of the merger situation at the time of going to press. (November 1967)
Lord Hill announced the details of the new contracts offered by the ITA. The announcement included the proposed merger of Rediffusion Television and ABC Television. ‘Mergers’, he said, ‘are always difficult to arrange…’
It was announced: ‘Agreement has today been reached, subject to contract, to lease Wembley Studios to London Weekend Television Ltd. for at least three years from May 6, 1968.
‘London Weekend Television has indicated that it expects to use three studios and that its union-graded staff will be recruited in the main from Rediffusion staff.
‘The arrangements made in respect of the studios will materially assist and accelerate the conclusion of the negotiations relating to the formation of the new ABC/Rediffusion company.’
Following talks with the unions, two statements were made. The first, which concerned A.C.T.T. members, said :
‘The following agreement was reached between the Independent Television Companies and the A.C.T.T. as a result of recent meetings:
- The companies fully accept that every A.C.T.T. member in Independent Television subject to re-deployment will be employed in the network under the new contract allocation.
- The companies guarantee to employ in London, with the minimum of disturbance, all A.C.T.T. staff presently employed by Rediffusion Television, and A.B.C. Television, in London in at least their present grades.
- Yorkshire Television, will employ all A.C.T.T. staff presently employed at A.B.C. Television’s Didsbury Studios.
- There will be early discussions to deal with problems arising particularly in relation to 2nd and 3rd schedules grades.
- While this situation maintains, there will be no recruitment from outside the Independent Television Companies and no one employed by one company shall undertake work in television for other organisations.
‘It was also agreed that discussions should take place between the union and each of the new companies, London Weekend Television, A.B.C./Rediffusion joint company and Yorkshire Television, as soon as possible on the question of their general terms and conditions of employment and staffing.’
The second statement was agreed between the Independent Television companies and the E.T.U. and N.A.T.K.E. It said: ‘In connection with the re-allocation of I.T.V. contracts the companies recognize that they must use their best endeavours to re-employ E.T.U. and N.A.T.K.E. members affected by the re-allocation.
‘With this in mind they undertake that in the first instance recruitment will be made from within the industry, with first preference being given to staff directly affected by the reallocation and with the minimum of disturbance.
‘The new companies are sympathetic to the problems involved in the re-deployment of staff and undertake to commence discussions individually with the unions as soon as possible on the general terms and conditions of employment to be applied within their respective companies.’
Also on October 19 a company advertisement stated: ‘Rediffusion Television’s contract ends on July 29, 1968. Until that time it is the company’s policy and firm intent to continue to improve its programme content and to give its advertisers still better service during the next nine months.
‘Already it has been stated that our programme budget has been increased by over 10 per cent. Both the programme and sales departments have been reorganised to adapt to the changing situation.
‘The sales department is geared to give the maximum service to our clients, both directly and through their advertising agencies.
‘Between now and July 29, 1968, the demand for time on Rediffusion Television exceeds anything we have previously known. With the aid of our computer our sales service has been further improved and the whole operation speeded up. We shall continue to be very much in the forefront of the television advertising scene until the completion of our operation.’
Notice boards were put up at Television House and Wembley for staff to read. They said:
‘ABC Television Limited and Rediffusion Television Limited have reached agreement with the Independent Television Authority on the formation of a new company to operate the London Weekday contract from July 30, 1968.
‘The company will be called Thames Television Limited, and will be based at ABC’s Studios at Teddington-on-Thames with central London studios and offices at Rediffusion’s Television House. The capital of Thames Television Limited will be approximately £6,000,000 divided equally between ABC Television Limited and Rediffusion Television Limited.
‘The board of the new company will be as follows:
- Sir Phillip Warter, chairman (chairman of the Associated British Picture Corporation, and of ABC Television.)
- Robert Clark, M.A., LL.B., deputy chairman (deputy chairman and chief executive of the Associated British Picture Corporation, and deputy chairman of ABC Television.)
- Howard Thomas, C.B.E., managing director (managing director of ABC Television and director of the Associated British Picture Corporation.)
- Brian Tesler, M.A., programme controller (director of ABC Television.)
- A. W. Groocock, F.C.LS., director (director and secretary of Rediffusion Television.)
- George A. Cooper, sales director (director of ABC Television.)
- B. R. Greenhead, controller of studios and engineering (director of ABC Television.)
- J. T. Davey, F.C.A., director (chief accountant of Rediffusion Television.)
- D. R. W. Dicks, director (controller of production of Rediffusion Television.)
- Group Capt. H. S. L. Dundas, D.S.O., D.F.C., director (director of Rediffusion.)
The following senior staff appointments were announced: Jeremy Isaacs, current affairs and children’s programmes (Rediffusion); Lloyd Shirley, drama (ABC); Guthrie Moir, education and religion (Rediffusion); Phillip Jones, light entertainment (ABC); Grahame Turner, outside broadcasts (Rediffusion); Stuart Sansom, engineering department (ABC); James F. Shaw, advertisement department (ABC); M. Lawson, accounts department (ABC).
The message continued: ‘Recruitment of staff from ABC Television and from Rediffusion Television will commence shortly. ‘The redeployment of unionised staff now engaged by Rediffusion will be conducted in exact accordance with the letter and the spirit of the agreements reached at the following National Labour Relations meetings:
a. Meeting with the A.C.T.T. – October 18
b. Meeting with ETU/NATKE – October 19
‘The company will use it’s best endeavours to find satisfying and equally remunerative work for all non-unionised members of the staff.
A company press statement said:
‘The Rediffusion ACTT shop concluded a meeting with the management at 5.30 p.m. today by registering failure to agree with the company on the amount of ex-gratia payments which the company has offered in addition to the payments required in accordance with the Redundancy Payments Act of 1965.
‘These ex-gratia payments were offered as a result of the termination of the company’s ITA contract on July 29 next year.
‘All the ACTT staff concerned have already been guaranteed further employment in ITV in London after Rediffusion’s contract ends.
‘The commercial break before the ITN News at 5.55 p.m. was blacked out by the ACTT staff.
‘The company had no warning of the action from the ACTT shop. It is considering the position.’
Later there was this joint press announcement:
‘Meetings between Rediffusion and ACTT began again tonight at 9 p.m. They will continue tomorrow in the hope, shared by both parties, that a satisfactory conclusion will be quickly reached. In the meantime normal transmission will continue.’