Broadcasting by Granada Television began on 3 May 1956 under the North of England weekday franchise. It was marked by a distinctive northern identity, and used stylised letter "G" logo forming an arrow pointing north, often with the tagline "Granada: from the north". Granada plc merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004 after a duopoly had developed over the previous decade. The Granada name, as with those of the other former Channel 3 regional licence holders, has completely disappeared except for the regional news bulletins and weeknightly regional news magazine; ITV Broadcasting Limited operates the service with national ITV branding and continuity. Granada Television Ltd still legally exists. Along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, it is listed on www.companieshouse.gov.uk as a "Dormant company". Other companies listed are Granada Television International and Granada Television Overseas Ltd, but these are either dormant or non-trading.
The North West region is regarded as ITV's most successful franchise. The Financial Times and The Independent once described Granada Television, the former franchise holder, as "the best commercial television company in the world". Nine Granada programmes were listed in the BFI TV 100 in 2000. Some of its most notable programmes include Coronation Street, Seven Up!, The Royle Family, The Jewel in the Crown, Brideshead Revisited, World in Action, University Challenge and The Krypton Factor. Notable employees have included Paul Greengrass, Michael Apted, Mike Newell, Jeremy Isaacs, Andy Harries, Russell T Davies and Leslie Woodhead.
Granada Television, a subsidiary of Granada Ltd, originated in Granada Theatres Ltd, which owned cinemas in the south of England. It was founded in Dover in 1930 by Sidney Bernstein and his brother Cecil. The company was incorporated as Granada Ltd in 1934 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1935; Granada Theatres Ltd became a subsidiary of the new company. It is named after the Spanish city of Granada.
The Bernsteins became involved in commercial television, a competitor to the cinema chains. Bernstein bid for the North of England franchise, which he believed would not affect the company's largely southern-based cinema chain. In 1954, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) awarded Granada the North of England contract for Monday to Friday, with ABC serving the same area on weekends. The companies used the ITA's Winter Hill and Emley Moor transmitters covering Lancashire and the West and East Ridings of Yorkshire, including the major conurbations around Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Doncaster.
The North and London were the two biggest regions. Granada preferred the North because of its tradition of home-grown culture, and because it offered a chance to start a new creative industry away from the metropolitan atmosphere of London ... the North is a closely knit, indigenous, industrial society; a homogeneous cultural group with a good record for music, theatre, literature and newspapers, not found elsewhere in this island, except perhaps in Scotland. Compare this with London and its suburbs—full of displaced persons. And, of course, if you look at a map of the concentration of population in the North and a rainfall map, you will see that the North is an ideal place for television".