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June 4th 1993 - 1996

By the early nineties, Ulster Television looked stale and dated. Although they had had a revamp in 1988, it was not particularly modern, and since they did not adopt the generic ident, they kept this until 1993.

Ulster TV is in a special position. Many people in the Irish Republic can receive ITV, either by leakage of signal over the border or by cable or deflector systems. Until the late eighties, many of these subscription services in the Republic carried HTV Wales, even more the further you got from the border. What happened though, possibly under pressure from UTV, was the switch of region. This opened up an opportunity for UTV to get advertising revenue from southern sources. One thing which helped UTV even more was legislation brought in in the South which restricted TV advertising in the state. Obviously these restrictions did not apply North of the border, so several companies used UTV as a way to advertise products and services which were only available in the Republic.

The increased share of broadcasting in the Republic which UTV had gained meant it was no longer just thinking about its franchise area of Northern Ireland, but much beyond. They didn't want to be just Ulster Television, so changing the name to one which had been used colloquially, both on and off-screen produced a brand which could be used anywhere. What people call things in Northern Ireland can be contentious at the best of times, so UTV seemed a neutral name to use.

The revamp in 1993 was very clever, and technically superb. There were many symbols, each starting off the same, but once the UTV logo had been formed, someone would run through it or roll it up or whatever.

Each symbol had a slightly different jingle. A selection of these are shown below. Within several weeks of their introduction, most of them were withdrawn with the bog-standard one (as above) be used almost always, except for the startup at 9.25am where the "UTV is YOUR TV" symbol was used. This particular symbol was used until 1995.

The second symbol above was used in the first few days of the new look. The old music faded into the new.  The clock below was occasionally used on-screen, making UTV unique among ITV companies who'd ditched the use of on-screen clocks.

Another unusual feature of UTV's look is the fact that still uses onscreen continuity on occasion. The pictures below are of Julian Simmons, Ulster's campest presenter, and Tracy-Anne Griffiths who now does continuity for Channel 4. Note how the background mimics part of the UTV logo, with the table being the top of the 'U'. Incidentally, the same studio was used for news during GMTV.

The 1993 revamp saw a new look for UTV Live, only a few months after its launch:

Special Christmas symbols from December 1994, designed by local schools.

December 1995 Christmas presentation was complete with plasticine


> > > > > Onto UTV in 1996 > > > > >

All images, video, text and commentary written by Richard Bell for TV Zone.

Last Updated: February 11, 2020


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