ITV is a commercial TV network in the United Kingdom. Since the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990 its legal name has been Channel 3, to distinguish it from the analogue channels at the time, namely BBC1, BBC2. ITV is a network of channels that operate regional television services as well as sharing programmes between each other to be displayed on the entire network. In recent years, several of companies have merged so currently the fifteen franchises are in the hands of two companies. With the exception of Northern Ireland, the ITV brand is the used by ITV plc for the Channel 3 service in these areas. In Northern Ireland, ITV plc uses the brand name UTV, STV Group plc, uses the STV brand for its two franchises of central and northern Scotland. The origins of ITV lie in the passing of the Television Act 1954, the act created the Independent Television Authority to heavily regulate the industry and to award franchises. The first six franchises were awarded in 1954 for London, the Midlands, the first ITV network to launch was Londons Associated-Rediffusion on 22 September 1955, with the Midlands and North services launching in February 1956 and May 1956 respectively. Following these launches, the ITA awarded more franchises until the country was covered by fourteen regional stations. Following the 1993 changes, ITV as a network began to consolidate with several companies doing so to save money by ceasing the duplication of services present when they were all separate companies. The ITV Network is not owned or operated by one company, since 2016 the fifteen licences are held by two companies, with the majority held by ITV Broadcasting Limited, part of ITV plc. The network is regulated by the media regulator Ofcom who is responsible for awarding the broadcast licences, the last major review of the Channel 3 franchises was in 1991, with all operators licences having been renewed between 1999 and 2002 and again from 2014 without a further contest. However, due to amalgamation of several of companies since the creation of ITV Network Limited. Approved by Ofcom, this results in ITV plc commissioning and funding the network schedule, all licensees have the right to opt out of network programming, however many do not due to pressures from the parent company or because of limited resources. The network also needs to produce accessible output containing subtitles, signing, in exchange for this programming, the ITV network is available on all platforms free to air and can be found at the top of the EPG of all providers. Since the launch of the platform in 1998, all of the ITV licensees have received gifted capacity on the terrestrial television platform. At present, the companies are able to broadcast additional channels and all choose to broadcast the ITV plc owned ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV in their region. UTV and STV previously broadcast their own services – UTV2 in Northern Ireland and S2 in central and northern Scotland – until 2002, the broadcasters all make use of the Digital 3&4 multiplex, shared with Channel 4
The London Studios near Waterloo was originally the base for the ITV London weekend contractor LWT but is now ITV's main London headquarters.
Granada Studios was the oldest TV studios in the UK, having been built in 1954 to house the broadcaster of the same name. The studios were closed in June 2013. Granada is the only franchise to remain an ITV contractor since creation in 1954.