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

Bashing the Bishop

Tomorrow’s budget has prompted a steep rise in sales of television sets and “not necessarily the cheapest models” according to a Times correspondent in Birmingham.

Blame for some of this is laid at the door of commercial television by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose words are reported in the Daily Express. Dr Fisher, whose son is a television producer for the BBC, does not have a television but is concerned that “many millions of pounds” have been spent to give Britain commercial television.. He said, “It is disturbing that this outpouring of capital should come just when the Government is doing all it can to intensify ‘restraint of capital expenditure.'”. The purpose of ITV advertisements, he says, “is of course to persuade people to spend more and buy more goods. But this comes just a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is saying ‘We have been using up too much at home.'” Dr Fisher will soon be seen at Lambeth Palace in the BBC series At Home.

It’s an interesting point, but one wonders how much of it’s true or whether Dr Fisher is talking nonsense. How much extra spending it actually does generate? Presumably commercials for toothpaste, washing powder and the like don’t increase overall sales volume so much as result in a switch from the unadvertised brand X to the advertised brand Y. No doubt there are figures for all this somewhere or other. I’d be interested in seeing them.

Meanwhile there’s news that the BBC and the ITA may be co-operating on the use of the Crystal Palace site as a home for both of their transmitting stations. The London County Council has given the ITA approval in principle, as has the Postmaster-General.

The ITA are currently broadcasting from a temporary station at Beaulieu Heights (which The Times‘ radio correspondent has rendered phonetically as “Beulah Heights”) but this was always intended to be a temporary home. The main tower is already strong enough to carry the additional load, but the makers will be examining the topmost parallel section in case it needs strengthening. This will delay completion by some months but a temporary mast – the one which was previously in Glencairn, Northern Ireland, until rendered redundant by the new the Divis station – will shortly be erected.

Elsewhere, The Guardian brings the news that the British Dental Association is concerned by the claims being made in some toothpaste advertisements. Whether these concerns are solely related to television advertising isn’t clear but this is certainly part of it and the statement was made on the recommendation of the Association’s representative on the body within the Independent Television Authority responsible for scrutinising advertisements submitted for television.

In just under a month’s time the BBC will transmit their first live broadcast from Northern Ireland where Lord Brookeborough, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, will be shown in his room in Stormont being questioned by journalists. This to take place on 17 November.

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