TV-AM was one of eight bids for the new early morning broadcast franchise to broadcast in previously unoccupied airtime on ITV. It was backed in part by one of its initial five presenters, Sir David Frost.
The regulator of the time, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, refused to let TV-AM launch so soon after the start of Channel 4. When BBC One announced plans for a similar venture, the IBA allowed TV-AM to start three months earlier than planned on 1 February 1983.
Roland Rat, a creation of 'David Claridge' and Anne Wood, is widely reported as being TV-AM's savior in the face of financial ruin. In reality, it was Greg Dyke who made more subtle changes to TV-AM's format and show overall to improve ratings - Roland Rat was the "final touch". Roland built up a cult following during his time on TV-AM and this helped matters enormously.
Technical staff staged a one-day strike at TV-AM in November 1987 because of a dispute centered on a charity feature. Such industrial action would ordinarily have forced the show off-air, but the management responded by locking out those affected. The show went ahead using entirely pre-recorded programming from the USA and Australia, most notably _"Batman" (1966/II)_ and Flipper (1964) episodes from the 1960s. These were transmitted by a small management team and ratings actually increased as children began to switch on midweek. Over time, the management were supplanted by other members of staff and new recruits, and the live show gradually replaced the pre-recorded elements. The locked out staff were sacked in February 1988, and despite many on air problems the station continued to transmit until losing its licence in the 1991 franchise round.
TV-AM was limited company from 1980 - 1986 and a public limited company thereafter. In 1993, after ceasing its broadcasts, there was a reverse takeover by Crockfords (a London-based Casino operator). Crockfords (now Capital PLC) were interested in obtaining a stock market listing. However, everything it produced as part of TV-AM (including Daybreak) is archived with Moving Image Communications Limited, a library sales concern. TV-AM is, however, listed as a non trading company in Companies House.
TV-AM's headquarters, where the programme came from, are still standing on Hawley Cresent in London. The building was sold to music broadcaster MTV Europe, who own it today. The "eggs on the roof" of TV-AM's old home are still there, visible from the canal back at the rear of the building. The building, designed by Sir Terry Farrell is listed. MTV were forced to keep the Eggs, and distinctive metalwork framing over the entrance. However in a compromise, the large letters at each end of the frontage, vertically spelling out TV-am were allowed to be disguised by shrouding them in cylindrical sheet metal covers.