Exciting news today carried in all the papers – the Independent Television Authority have accepted, subject to contract, the application by the Associated British Picture Corporation Ltd to provide weekend programmes from its stations at Lichfield, Rivington Moor (Lancashire) and Yorkshire. The contract is formally awarded to Associated British Cinemas (Television) Ltd, a subsidiary of the Asssociated British Picture Corporation. Minority shareholders in the venture include the Birmingham Post and Mail, the Birmingham Gazette and Despatch, the Bradford and District Newspaper Co Ltd (publishers of the Yorkshire Observer) and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Mr John Dunkerly, controller of the BBC Midland Region said yesterday, “We feel quite convinced that to do a real job with a good choice of alternatives one does need a separate BBC television network, and it has always been envisaged that the regions will make a substantial contribution to that second programme when it comes.” The BBC is currently developing a new studio in Birmingham which it hopes will be in operation by the end of the year.
The Guardian’s Radio Critic (RC – will they ever get a television critic?) is not convinced by the BBC’s response to the threat of commercial television – that “six programmes and half an hour of news are now crowded into three and a half hours of television every night.”
RC thought that “from last night’s session Zoo Quest in Guinea stood out a mile” and that the Welsh play Davy Jones’s Dinner “was amusing” and “it was, however, heartening to hear genuine Welsh accents”.
The Daily Express’s TV Reporter was watching something quite different: the test card and he reports that at 6.15pm last night a test card appeared on sets capable of receiving the signal. It had tuning gradations and bore the letters ITA. The Mirror’s Clifford Davis had the news that tests of the coverage of the high-power 60kW transmissions from Croydon gave the commercial service “coverage in the South of England equal to the BBC’s own transmitter at Crystal Palace.” The latter works on 35kW, Davis explained, but had a better site and a higher aerial. The power of the ITA transmitter will be doubled in December while the BBC’s new 200kW Crystal Palace transmitter will open in March 1956.
The too interested The Times which reported reception across an area including Welwyn (to the north), Tilbury (to the east), Horley (to the south) and Henley (to the west). A firm of radio dealers in Margate, approximately 70 miles away, reported strong signals too.
Also in The Times was a report on a fall in the sale of television sets in June. These averaged 5.3 sets per shop (compared to 5.7 in May and in June 1955, and 6.0 in May 1954) while the percentage sold on hire purchase was 58.4 compared to 59.7, 52.6 and 51.7 respectively.
After animals yesterday it’s sport today and this evening’s television is bookended by Sportsview and Association Football, the latter consisting of the second half of today’s Charity Shield match between last season’s league champions, Chelsea, and the F. A. Cup winners, Newcastle United. Chelsea have home advantage, which might count for something. Kenneth Wolsenholme is the commentator. These two aside, there’s an hour of September “a review of the month with music” introduced by Bernard Miles and featuring Dulcie Gray, Fenella Fielding, the George Mitchell Singers and others. Douglas Moodie produces.