Independent Television in Britain: Politics and Control by Jeremy Potter (auth.)

By Jeremy Potter (auth.)

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Additional resources for Independent Television in Britain: Politics and Control 1968–80

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Its operations were financed out of the 24 POLITICS AND CONTROL, 1968-80 ordinary rentals paid by the companies and in assessing them it was continually struggling to implement lim even-handed policy of equalising profitability between the companies, so far as the unpredictable incidence of the levy would permit. At this time rentals were based on capital employed or, more precisely, 'capital reasonably employed'; later it became Authority policy to base them more closely on revenue. Whereas the government enjoyed the freedom to vary the scales of the levy annually, or even more frequently if it chose, under its contracts with the companies the ITA, not anticipating the extraordinary circumstances of 1969 and 1970, had denied itself the opportunity of revising its rentals (apart from cost-of-living adjustments) more than once during the six-year contract period running from 1968 to 1974.

The programme plans, as set out in the company's application, had been drawn up, not by Peacock (who was still Controller of BBCl at the time), but by Frost and Irving, assisted by information from Rediffusion supplied by Bennett. Most prominently featured in these were weekly Frost programmes on successive evenings: Frost on Friday, Frost on Saturday and Frost on Sunday. Peacock was not pleased when he discovered the terms of Frost's contract. For his exclusive services as a performer, for his three programmes a week for twenty weeks a year and for acting as adviser and overseas sales consultant, Frost was receiving £100,000 the first year, rising to £120,000 the second, and (if the company exercised its option) £130,000 38 POLITICS AND CONTROL, 1968-80 for a third.

29 In all it took nearly eight years of argument to convince the Treasury that a levy related to profits was to be preferred to one imposed on income irrespective of profit or loss. The decision to legislate accordingly, along lines proposed by the Authority, was taken by a Conservative government towards the end of 1973 and accepted by an incoming Labour government the following year. If there had to be levy, it was now to be less of an incubus and more of a cushion, offering a fair chance that programmemaking could be adequately financed even during economic blizzards.

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