ITV Granada (previously known as Granada Television) is the Channel 3 regional service for North West England, the licence for the region being held by ITV Broadcasting Limited since November 2008. It is the largest independent television franchise producing company in the UK accounting for 25% of the total broadcasting output of the ITV network. Previously it was held by Granada Television which was founded by Sidney Bernstein and based at Granada Studios since its inception, and which was the only surviving company out of the original four Independent Television Authority franchisees from 1954 before it merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004. It covers Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, northwestern Derbyshire, part of Cumbria and North Yorkshire, and from the 15th of July 2009, the Isle of Man (even though it is not part of the UK).
Broadcasting by Granada Television began on 3 May 1956 under the North of England weekday franchise and was marked by a distinctive northern identity. 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 as ITV Broadcasting Limited operates the service with national ITV branding and continuity. Granada Television Ltd still legally exists and is, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed on www.companieshouse.gov.uk as a "Dormant company". Other companies listed are Granada Television International, Granada Television Overseas Ltd and Granada Television Productions Ltd, but these are all either dormant or non-trading.
The North West region is regarded as ITV's most successful franchise, and 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 and 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. Past employees include Paul Greengrass, Michael Apted, Mike Newell, Jeremy Isaacs, Andy Harries, Russell T Davies and Leslie Woodhead. The northern operation of ITV Studios is currently based in the former Granada Studios on Quay Street in Manchester, but many productions have already made, or are making, the transition to new studios at MediaCityUK.