TV-am sign-off, switch and Central startup | 20 May 1983
From the archives of
TV-am’s launch was brought forward thanks to the BBC coming up with Breakfast Time as something of a spoiler. The new channel had to slot into a system where the infrastructure was not ready for it – it wouldn’t be until their planned May launch date. This meant TV-am had to go off-air at 0915 to allow British Telecommunications a 10 minute gap to switch control back from London to the individual transmitters. We’ve edited that interlude down, but left in the switch from London to Birmingham.
Incidentally, TV-am’s original hours were 0555 to 0925 – the five minute drift each way was to allow for a startup sequence (for TV-am 0555-0600, for the ITV companies 0925-0930). TV-am’s financial woes meant they moved their start to 0625 and later, only going back to 0600 when things picked up, losing them those 5 minutes. Meanwhile, start-up sequences were made optional by the IBA and started to drop away, but to this day we’re left with a shadow on the pavement – ITV’s Daybreak still ends at 0925.
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