The Broadcasting Act of 1990 changed the workings of the ITV Network. For the first time companies could now own more than one franchise and were free to merge and consolidate with other companies. In a desperate attempt to hang onto their franchise, Tyne Tees Television massively overbid. Their only rival bidder, North East Television (backed by Granada Television) bid 5 million pounds, 10 million less than Tyne Tees. Unfortunately this was not the end of Tyne Tees’ troubles. The cash-strapped company was left with no choice other than to merge with the also financially troubled Yorkshire Television. The two companies had previously came together in an arrangement known as Trident Television in the 1970s. However, this new arrangement was a very different affair to Trident. The very name Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television left little doubt as to who was ‘wearing the trousers’. Yorkshire had a much greater say in the new company as YTV shareholders owned 75% of the business, with neglected Tyne Tees owning an almost insignificant 25%. Sadly, this was where it all started going downhill for the beleaguered North East station. YTV began using TTTV as a guinea pig for their ridiculous money-saving schemes, with no regard for the loyal North East viewers.
Behind the Giant 3
‘This is Tyne Tees Television, broadcasting to the North East on Channel 3’
Reduced to nothing more than a tiny strap line, Tyne Tees Television was as good as gone. In its place was a tacky, gigantic golden 3 placed over an even tackier pale blue background. When the C3NE brand was introduced Monday 2nd September 1996, an identity crisis hit the North East station. For contractual reasons, the ident still had to refer to Tyne Tees, so a tiny strap line reading ‘Tyne Tees Television’ was added along the bottom. In reality, TTTV was now known as Channel 3 North East although, strangely, the ident referred to it as ‘North East 3’. The continuity announcers were clearly equally confused with statements such as ‘This is Channel 3 North East Tyne Tees Television’ regularly heard.
So how had it come to this? Down at Yorkshire Television the accountants had moved in and proposed renaming Tyne Tees to C3NE and Yorkshire to C3Yorkshire. This may seem pointless but the sinister element behind this rebranding exercise will be revealed later in this article. The Yorkshire bosses were not too keen on renaming their station but agreed to once again use poor TTTV as a guinea pig. A campaign fronted by North East broadcasting legend Mike Neville, then newly poached from Look North, soon began. A rather nice video showing North East people and objects in groups of three took to the airwaves. In fact, if Yorkshire had put even the slightest bit of effort into the presentational aspect of the rebranding, then there was every chance C3NE would have succeeded. But they didn’t. So it failed. North East viewers reacted furiously to the sudden change. Of course, many had grown up with the iconic Tyne Tees name and were not too pleased by its sudden abandonment. But YTV stuck by C3NE despite its unpopularity for a very good reason, from an accountant’s perspective. Their long term plan was to run a generic service between the two regions, with the same announcements, the same idents and the same name. However, in 1997 the troubled YTTTV group was bought out by the Granada Media Group who proclaimed that Tyne Tees required a strong visual identity. Many thought GMG had saved Tyne Tees and that the good times were back. In reality, TTTV was in big trouble.
The ident was rather garish, a big golden 3 spinning into view, with a soundtrack best suited to a blockbuster movie.
1998 – 2000
Their new presentation paid homage to the idents used between 1968-1988, with the use of a yellow on blue colour scheme and the traditional rivers-themed premise. TTTV’s new ident was clearly a rushed job and incomparable to the high quality presentation airing over on the Beeb at the time but it was certainly an improvement over the giant 3. The Daytime ident is shown below; a Night-time variant, which featured a darker background, aired after 6pm. Later in 1998, special news and sports variants were produced to bolster the package. The name reversal was met with much praise from viewers. As North East Tonight anchor Mike Neville put it: ‘It feels good to be able to say that name again’.
On 9 March 1998 the Tyne Tees name returned to North Eastern screens. The ident last appeared in August 2000
Tyne Tees celebrated their 40th anniversary in January 1999 and used a special ident for this event.
Hearts Idents, Introduced on 8 November 1999.
The last truly regional idents from Tyne Tees only used into local programmes. Introduced on 4th September 2000.
Tyne Tees was rebranded as ITV1 Tyne Tees on 28 October 2002. The name “Tyne Tees” only appeared before regional programmes – with “ITV1” shown at other times.