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1979 ITV Strike

The message viewers received when attempting to access the ITV channels.

The 1979 ITV strike was a strike that took place between 10th August 1979 and 24th October 1979. Emmerdale Farm was majorly affected by this, coming off air for it's normal break on 5th July 1979 and not returning until much later on 8th January 1980.

Throughout the 1970s, England suffered high inflation rates (with a peak at 24.2% in 1975), but through this period, ITV remained highly profitable - continuously beating BBC with their ratings and earned large amounts of advertising revenue. As a result, ITV employees were paid well, however, the rise of inflation meant that high pay claims were still made by employees. In July 1979, Emmerdale Farm went on it's normal summer break.

In July/August 1979, with the inflation rate at 13.4%, ITV made a 9% pay offer, which was rejected by the unions, which wanted 25% - claiming that their members' pay over the years had been decreased dramatically by inflation. This resulted in a ten-week industrial dispute, which began with the EETPU members (the electricians at London's Thames Television) refusing to accept this pay increase. The management there attempted to continue the service, but the other transmission staff (ACTT) refused to co-operate as they pointed out that the equipment used by the EETPU members may be dangerous. The management staff ordered the ACTT staff to return, however the ACTT staff ended up encouraging all it's other members to leave as well on 8th August 1979. The unions at Westward Television decided against striking, whereas the unions at Channel Television were forced into not striking as it could put the channel out of business (the purpose of a union is to maintain employment for its members).

On the 9th August 1979, all the ITN staff (except for the employees at Channel Television) walked out and as a result, viewers encountered black screens on the morning of the 10th. ITV threatened a lockout if the staff didn't return by 23rd August 1979, which the staff didn't return and were effectively sacked. Channel Television broadcated a time-restricted service consisting of of local programming, films and imported TV series (on film, as Channel Television had no videotape facilities at the time). Yorkshire Television temporarily interrupted their strike card in order to air police appeals on behalf of the West Yorkshire Police for their hunt of the Yorkshire Ripper.

ITV strike return

ITV returns in October 1979 following the ten-week strike.

In October 1979, the ITV management made an offer of 17.5%, with a promise of 7.5% in January 1980 and 15% in July 1980, which was accepted. It was reported that the strike lost ITV revenue of around £100,000,000. However, ITV were challenged with the task of bringing back their viewers from the BBC, which proved difficult due to the production of original programmes such as Coronation Street and Crossroads had halted and new episodes would not be available for some time yet.

ITV return schedule

Viewers were informed that ITV would return on 24th October.

Upon ITV's return, users were greeted with a message reading "ITV IS BACK TODAY" with a schedule beginning from 5:45pm. Viewers tuning in before the news were greeted with a jingle performed by the Mike Sammes Singers. This strike was the last major strike for ITV (however there would be some minor disputes; see 1981 ITV Strike).

Despite shows such as Coronation Street managing to return around 24th October 1979, Emmerdale Farm would not return until 8th January 1980 with Episode 543. This was mostly due to the show's expected return in October, however the summer break had prevented episodes from being made to air for October. However, some episodes had been made and Episodes 543-548 were set in the summer of 1979. However, at the beginning of episodes 543 and 548, a short introduction was given by Sheila Mercier as Annie Sugden to explain the timescale. For episodes 543 and 544, Anne W. Gibbons, who was intended to take over the role of series producer from Michael Glynn, was credited as executive producer. However, afterwards, Gibbons and Glynn were both correctly credited in their roles as series and executive producer.

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