It was a baffling move, merging the brands of Thames Television and Talkback Productions to form ‘TalkbackThames’, however it seems the two brand identities are to split.
Thames Television has often been voted one of ITV’s most recognised brands, the company’s roots stretching back to the earliest days of Independent Television in 1955. Thames was formed in 1968 by a merger of founding ITV broadcasters ABC Television and Rediffusion London. It held an ITV broadcast franchise for London weekdays until the end of 1992, there after the company became an indie producer and has continued to produce programming for the ITV network and other channels such as BBC One and Channel 5.
Parent company FremantleMedia is to have its London base, currently the TalkbackThames company, re-branded as FremantleMedia UK which brings it in line with other divisions such as FremantleMedia Australia.
The Fremantle name was introduced in 2001 as the production arm brand a year after Pearson Television merged with CLT-UFA to form RTL Group, initially the Thames name was to be replaced entirely with the Fremantle identity however research by RTL discovered the name was still a well-respected brand and ultimatley was kept. Other old brands were not so fortunate, the long-established Grundy Television, producers of Neighbours, was ditched entirely.
Thames Television, or simply on-screen often seen as just ‘Thames’, will become the company brand for entertainment series, such as The X Factor which it currently co-produces for ITV.
Talkback Productions before the merge into Thames was best known for its popular comedy output, it will return to that genre for Fremantle. Scripted comedy will be produced under the brand Retort while factual entertainment, features and specialist series such as Channel 4’s Grand Designs will air under the Boundless label.
“Simply the departments of the UK operation of Fremantle will be branded with these names.” says our media expert Vivian Summers, adding “So instead of the entertainment department of Freemantle UK being called that it will simply be known as Thames.”
The re-launch of the Thames and Talkback brands, along with the introduction of Retort and Boundless, will take place on January 1st 2012.