ITV is to give its regional television stations a single identity in a £12m campaign to win back viewers and advertisers.
From next Monday, 11 of the regional operators owned by the network's two main players, Carlton and Granada, together with one independent, the Channels Islands station Channel, will replace their names with a new ITV logo.
The rebranding – which cost £750,000 and will be promoted with an £11m marketing campaign – is a further move towards homogenisation signalled by Carlton and Granada's decision to begin merger talks earlier this month.
Designed by Bruce Dunlop, the new logo shows the words ITV in yellow lower-case letters against a light blue background, with a mirror image below. It replaces the ITV heart symbol introduced four years ago.
ITV executives have felt under pressure to devise a sharper identity to counter the growth of cable and satellite channels and an image relaunch by BBC1.
But the commercial network's marketing plan has been rejected by three independent stations: Scottish Television, Grampian and Ulster Television. They have argued that their in-house brand benefits advertising and viewing figures. In Wales, viewers will watch ITV1 Wales after HTV, which is owned by Granada, agreed to the changes.
ITV bosses say that while regional news and weather remain important to viewers, only those 55 and over are attached to the regional name.
From next week there will be new 10-second slots in which stars from established programmes promote other shows on the network.
Jim Hynter, ITV's marketing and commercial director, said he hoped the strategy would mark a turning point after a "tough" 18 months in which the network suffered from an advertising recession, the collapse of ITV Digital, a "cash-rich" BBC and a "buoyant" multi-channel market.
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