Following the Television Act of 1954 which made commercial television in the UK possible, ITV first began broadcasting in 1955 on Channel 3 in the London area. By 1973 there were 15 separate Channel 3 regional broadcasting licences and each of the regional licences was run by a separate company.

The Broadcasting Act of 1990 allowed regional companies, under specific conditions, to merge for the first time. It paved the way for the consolidation of ITV and the first merger took place in 1994 when Granada bought LWT. By the new millennium Granada plc owned six regional licences, Carlton owned five, Scottish Media Group (SMG, now STV) owned two and Ulster and Channel remained independent.

The merger of Granada and Carlton became an obvious next step. The necessary changes in legislation were introduced by the Communications Act and the Competition Commission approved the merger plans. In February 2004 ITV plc, owner of eleven of the fifteen regional licences, was born. Today ITV plc sells advertising on behalf of all fifteen of the licences and produces much of the programming broadcast on ITV channels.

Since the merger ITV has expanded its family of channels with the launch of ITV2 in 1998, ITV3 in 2004, ITV4 in 2005 and CITV in 2006.

February 19    ITV acquires US production company DiGa                                                

July 26 ITV acquires UK producer Big Talk
June 19 ITV acquires US producer Thinkfactory Media
May 13 ITV acquires US producer High Noon
April 22 ITV acquires UK production company The Garden
January 14      ITV launches company wide rebrand                                                           
December 22 ITV expands US production arm with acquisition of Gurney Productions
October 08 ITV acquires Finnish producer Tarinatalo
August 30 ITV acquires independent UK producer So Television
July 26 ITV acquires Norwegian producer Mediacircus
July 26 ITV agrees production partnership with Israeli broadcaster Reshet
January 11 ITV1+1 is launched
November 11 ITV acquires Channel Television
October 1 ITV Digital channels ITV2,3,4 launch in HD
September 28 ITV plc sells stake in Screenvision for £50m
August 3 ITV launches 5 year Transformation Plan
April 26 Adam Crozier joins ITV as Chief Executive
March 25 ITV confirms completion of the sale of Friends Reunited
January 1 Archie Norman joins ITV as Chairman
November 26 ITV secures full ownership of GMTV, the national breakfast-time channel 3 licensee
September 29 ITV acquires 51% of the shares in Imago, a Berlin-based production business
July 10 Completion of sale of certain assets of Carlton Screen Advertising
May 15 ITV acquires Scandinavian Independent producer Silverback
May 6 Freesat, the free UK digital satellite television service launches
April 7 ITV completed the sale of Arsenal Broadband
March 5 ITV sells its stake in Liverpoolfc.tv
December 4 ITV plc acquires independent producers 12 Yard
November 16 ITV sells stake in MUTV to Manchester United
August 2 ITV sells shares in ITFC
May 9 ITV plc acquires controlling stake in Jaffe/Braunstein entertainment LLC
April 5 Disposes of Interest in Arsenal FC
February 6 ITV announces the disposal of its shareholding in Liverpool FC
August 23 ITV disposed of its stake in TV3 for £70 million
May 23 ITV disposed of its stake in Seven Network for £87 million
March 11 ITV launches CITV the first dedicated commercial children’s channel on Freeview
December 6 ITV plc acquires Friends Reunited
November 1 ITV4 launched
September 22 ITV Celebrates 50 years of broadcasting
April 27 ITV plc acquires SDN, a UK digital terrestrial television (DTT) multiplex operator
November 1 ITV3 launched
October 12 ITV plc acquired SMG’s 25% stake in GMTV
February 2

Granada and Carlton plc merged to form ITV plc The combined company owned 90% of ITV and 11 of the fifteen licences. 

October 7 It was announced that the merger had been given approval to proceed, subject to appropriate undertakings.
October 16 The boards of Granada and Carlton Communications announced that they had agreed the terms of a proposed merger
October Freeview, the provider of free-to-air digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services is launched

Granada History

Granada plc acquired the Border ITV licence The demerger of Granada Compass became effective which completed the separation of Granada Compass’s hospitality and media businesses to create Granada plc and Compass Group plc.
Granada Media acquired the television interests of United News and Media - Meridian Broadcasting and Anglia TV
December 7, ITV2 launched
Acquisition of Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television forming Granada Media Group
Acquisition of LWT
Granada was awarded one of the UK’s first commercial television broadcasting licenses, for the North of England weekday franchise
The company entered the London Stock Exchange
Granada created. Its initial aim was to acquire the theatre and cinema operations owned by Bernstein Theatres

Carlton's History

HTV was acquired in 1991 in a swap transaction from Granada in return for a 20% stake in Meridian TV. In the same year, Carlton sold Technicolor, its feature film processing
Carlton had acquired an 81% stake in Central and Westcountry TV
Carlton acquired a 20% stake in GMTV (increased to 25% in December 1999) and an 18% stake in ITN
Carlton was granted the London weekday ITV licence
Carlton moved into mainstream British television broadcasting by acquiring a 19% stake in Central Independent Television. During the 1980s and 1990s, Carlton expanded into various media activities from television broadcasting to programme production, and distribution to cinema screen advertising
Carlton became a listed company
Carlton was incorporated