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

Population and Precipitation

Mr C. R. Attlee, as he’s named in The Guardian, the Leader of the Opposition, addressed a Labour women’s rally in Bristol yesterday where he commented, “At considerable expense Mr Butler and his friends have set up an organisation called Independent Television with the purpose of bringing into every home high-powered salesmanship so that all day, or as much of it as they can, they are urging you to spend.”

He continued, “Which voice will be heard loudest: Mr Butler speaking in the City of London to the bankers, or Independent Television speaking all day and telling you all the wonderful things you ought to buy? Why was that done? It was done simply to satisfy a small group of people who wanted to make a profit.” The Times reports this too, providing one extra line of Mr Attlee’s: “The best elements of the Conservative Party were against it too.”

According to Cyril Aynsley in the Daily Express, things aren’t so good on the ground, if the figures of Attwood Statistics are correct, for it is they who run the Television Audience Measurement system on which the commercial companies can base their rates and advertisers can make their decisions. The problem stems from a large discrepancy in numbers. Back on 22 September the Radio Industries Council estimated that there were between 500,000 and 600,000 television sets ready to receive the new commercial television broadcasts; Attwood Statistics has carried out research and believes the number to be only 169,000.

Of course even if the original figure was correct, and the RIC say that they do stand by their figures, it would still leave around one million sets in the London and south-east which could only receive the BBC. Nevertheless, the discrepancy is a large one, and someone’s going to have some explaining to do once we know who’s right and who’s wrong.

Back in The Guardian and Mr Sidney Bernstein, chairman of Granada Theatres, who hasn’t had much to say on the subject of his company’s plans for their television service, apparently told all – or at least most – to members of the Manchester Publicity Association yesterday. He explained that his reason for choosing the north following the consultation of two maps: one showing the distribution of population in England and the other the incidence of rainfall. “If commercial television was going to be a success anywhere, it would be a success in the north.”

Mr Bernstein declared that the Granada Television Centre in Manchester would be “the most technically advanced in the country” and that the advertising carried in its programmes would be “largely local.” Describing the new companies programmes all he said was, “We do not want to copy the BBC, we do not want to copy America. We shall try to give programmes of which we shall be proud and you need not be ashamed.”

He went on to explain that “Granada’s television centre in Manchester is to be built on the site between Quay Street and Water Street, had been designed by Mr R. Tubbs, the architect of the Dome of Discovery, and would consist of fifteen stories. It’s studios had been planned by Mr S. Cornberg, director of studio plant and planning for the NBC in America, in conjunction with Mr R. Hammond, formerly the chief studio planning engineer of the BBC.”

The electronic equipment, including “automatic lighting… which had never been seen in this country” would cost £600,000 and the mobile camera units – named “Travelling Eyes” – another £600,000. To use the equipment, “Granada had gathered a team of the best technical and creative assistants from England and America, and it was hoped to train young men from the North in their television school in London.”

The papers all report that the Associated Broadcasting Company and Associated British Cinemas (Television) have agreed to work together in the provision of studio facilities and that the Associated Broadcasting Company has agreed to change its name to Associated TeleVision Ltd or ATV, with effect from Saturday 8 October.

Some interesting words as part of The Guardian’s London Correspondence. In particular, that although critics have moaned about the intrusion of advertisements in ITV’s programmes, the ITA has received few complaints about the commercial service, and the majority of those have related to technical issues such as interference or a loss of sound or vision. Interestingly, the writer says that these are “no business of the Independent Television Authority” which of course may be true, but is entirely dependent on the origin of the problems to begin with, presumably such faults may originate at the Authority’s transmitters and not only at the broadcasters’ end.

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