In the news: ITV goes on strike

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - The Way We Were -

Not a sin­gle car com­mer­cial was shown on main­land Bri­tish TV for 75 days in 1979 – and it wasn’t be­cause our ail­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers were too em­bar­rassed about what they had to of­fer.

In fact, no ad­verts were shown at all, as ITV went off the air on 10 Au­gust, fol­low­ing a tech­ni­cians’ dis­pute. At the time Bri­tain had just three tele­vi­sion chan­nels: BBC 1, BBC2 and ITV. The lat­ter was a net­work of re­gional con­trac­tors with a to­tal mo­nop­oly on TV ad­ver­tis­ing, be­com­ing very rich in the process.

In­fla­tion stood at 13.4% and the tech­ni­cians’ union ACTT wanted a 25% pay rise. ITV of­fered 9% and the re­sult­ing in­dus­trial ac­tion meant view­ers were de­nied new episodes of Corona­tion Street, Em­merdale Farm and, in an es­pe­cially cal­lous act, Cross­roads. No scream­ing Capris ei­ther, be­cause The Pro­fes­sion­als was on ITV. View­ers could only watch BBC TV, lis­ten to the wire­less or give their Chrysler Sun­beam an ex­tra pol­ish.

ITV even­tu­ally re­turned with some ter­ri­ble theme mu­sic and, with deep irony, the first pro­gramme af­ter the news was The Mup­pet Show. Oh well, at least Min­der made its de­but a few days later.

Ev­ery as­pect of the above makes 1979 seem like the Stone Age. The thought of be­ing lim­ited to three TV chan­nels when you can now spend the en­tire day watch­ing back-to-back episodes of Stor­age Wars on one of the dozens of free dig­i­tal chan­nels or else spend an en­tire week­end watch­ing a non-stop marathon of all five se­ries of Break­ing Bad on blu-ray is hi­lar­i­ous.

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