Feature

Media: Lifeline - TV Times

The television listings guide has survived deregulation and sale in its 50-year history.

1955: As Associated-Rediffusion launches ITV in London, it sets up a division to publish TV Times. While newspapers are allowed to publish details of TV programmes, few do. The first issue of TV Times, priced 4d, is in black and white throughout. On its cover is the actress Lucille Ball (pictured).

1968: The ITV network has spread nationwide by the early 60s, and TV Times has shadowed its expansion to become a national publication - now in colour. By 1968, it hits its peak circulation of more than three million. Although newspapers are giving TV more prominence on a daily basis, TV Times still guards its schedule copyright jealously (as does the Radio Times for the BBC).

1989: ITV, realising deregulation is in the offing, sells TV Times (which has evolved into a massive money-spinner) to IPC. With new channels arriving (Channel 4 launched in 1982 and Sky in 1989), the Government decides that new broadcast legislation should break the TV Times-Radio Times duopoly, allowing rival publishers to print weekly TV schedules.

1991: Deregulation indeed arrives with the Broadcast Act and newspapers are the first to take advantage with listings supplements. But a new wave of specialist weekly titles also arrives, including the IPC stablemates TV & Satellite Week and What's on TV, plus new entrants such as H Bauer with TV Choice and TV Quick. Circulation of the TV Times halves almost overnight to around 1.5 million.

2006: TV Times relaunches and raises its coverprice in a repositioning exercise instigated by Mike Soutar (pictured), IPC's group editorial director. To reflect the proliferation of digital channels, it ups its editorial pagination and develops a new page design for "simpler navigation".

Fast forward ...

2012: Analogue switch-off has gone ahead as scheduled with the number of channels on digital platforms well over the 1,000 mark. Most viewers now plan their viewing via electronic programme guides, so listings titles have become something of a niche market - but TV Times is one of two survivors alongside ... its old rival, the Radio Times.