The world of British television off and on the screen, as it was sixty years ago.

As Difficult as ABC

ITV, seven days to goOh dearie me, I can’t say I’m so far very impressed by the Johnnie-come-latelies of commercial television, the Associated British Picture Corporation and their TV subsidiary Associated British Cinemas (Television) Ltd. If The Times is to be believed, “the chairman and deputy-chairman of the Associated British Picture Corporation… indicated yesterday that they both agreed with the ‘fortnight rule’” which just about every other broadcaster and newspaper thinks is abominable. Their deputy chairman, a Mr Eric Fletcher, manages to find enough time to also be a Labour MP, so he would say that, wouldn’t he?

What’s more, having turned up late to the party, they have decided they want to use the ABC name on screen, and thus are already in conflict with the Associated Broadcasting Company.

Film and cinemas are not television and plenty of other businesses already use ABC in their name, so it’s hardly as though the letters are exclusive to them. Let’s hope they don’t start selling sandwiches in their cinemas or the Aerated Bread Company could be next in their sights. The Associated Belting Companies may have a longer wait. Initially, the ITA (that’s the Independent Television Authority, not the Italian Translation Agency or the Invalid Tricycle Association) were asked to adjudicate but it looks as though the courts will become involved. All this from a combination of The Times and The Guardian.

Meanwhile, The Times also reports on a meeting between the directors general of the BBC and the ITA to discuss political broadcasting – though no joint statement has so far been issued.

Aside from discussing politics, the head honchos at Associated British have been talking about their broadcasting plans and intend to supply “a much greater proportion of regional programmes than is carried by the BBC whether they be sport, interest, entertainment or general information.”

Their managing director, Howard Thomas, is reported in The Guardian commenting that “Saturday afternoons will be mainly devoted to sports programme of particular interest to the regions – not only games between Northern and Midland teams, but also such essentially North Country sport such as League cricket, Northern Union rugby and pony trotting.” There would also be a “domestic serial on North Country life”. It seems a shame that the north, who already have a dedicated broadcaster in Granada, also appear to be getting the lion’s share of Associated British’s attention too. Let’s hope that Associated Broadcasting doesn’t get too wrapped up in the London side of things or they’ll be no-one with any real interest in the midlands. I hope the ITA (no, not the Institute of Travel Agents, nor the Industrial Transport Association) keep an eye on this. At least Birmingham is to be the site of both “offices and studios” for Associated British, although the same is true of Manchester and somewhere – as yet unnamed – in Yorkshire.

The Guardian’s Radio Critic (RC) is more concerned with what’s on screen and noted that last night’s edition of The Grove Family – called “One for the Road” – combined “both a moral and a tragedy” because it seems as though Jack Grove has been drinking and driving and has caused the death of a cyclist.

RC was irritated by Sportsview which had film of the Moscow athletics meeting including Christopher Chataway’s record-breaking victory in the 5000m in Moscow. Unfortunately, from RC’s point of view, the programme continually broke away from the film and returned to it in short snatches as though they were returning to each event in some weird kind of real time.

It wouldn’t be an RC review without something reviled and this time it was the September review of the month where RC described the sketches as “poor”, “muddled” and “inexplicable”. Only Bernard Miles, who popped up “between the turns” rose above the “feeble” nature of the remainder of the show.

Lastly, a quickie from overseas reported in various papers: A U.S. Marine, Captain Robert McCutchen became the first person to win the maximum prize on the $64,000 question last night.

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