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

Station Timetable

The Guardian reports that the GPO’s television control centre in the Museum Telephone Exchange, London will have “twenty visual monitors to watch for faults in programme transmissions, and by the end of the year the number of monitoring dials will have doubled.” A Mr L. C. Appleyard said that “90 percent of faults were dealt with before they got to viewers’ screens” and that even a navvy driving a pick or stake through a cable “could be restored in half an hour.”

Robert Cannell of the Daily Express is disappointed by “another American guessing game” which “came to British television last night.” Apparently it “was saved from flopping by the quick wits of comedian Jack Train and actress Sally Rogers.” “At other times,” he writes, “it would have been embarrassing if chairman Eamonn Andrews had not been ready with amusing clues.” The Mirror’s Fergus Cashin was less taken with Andrews, reporting that the programme, “was terribly punny. And the terrible part was, the puns uttered by Eamonn Andrews were deliberate.”

The Times’ Radio and Television Supplement begins with much talk about the BBC with a concentration on sound broadcasting, even if not to the exclusion of television. The supplement’s third major feature is headed COMMERCIAL TELEVISION subtitled “A Guide to the Constitution and Working of the New Service” and written by someone described simple as “a correspondent”. The initial part deals with the formation of the Independent Television Authority, and the advertising, applications and awarding of the four main contracts all of which are well-documented. The next section provides a nice summary of the technical setup vis-a-vis the transmitting stations, some of which has been reported here, but the rest gives a neat snapshot of the current and short-term plans and that area, and rather than précis it, I hope they will forgive an extended quotation.

To turn to the engineering side of the activities, it was generally assumed when the authority was formed that it would be able to share the B.B.C.’s television masts at Sutton Coldfleld and Holme Moss. (No such assumption was made about the London station because of the B.B.C.’s projected move to Crystal Palace.) The authority discovered that for technical reasons it would not be possible to give a fully satisfactory service from Sutton Coldfield and Holme Moss on a sharing basis, and it was obliged to plan the erection of separate stations for the Midlands and the North as well as London, The first station will cover the London area and will be sited on South Norwood Hill. It is officially known as the Croydon station and will begin programme transmissions on September 22. This station is designated as a temporary one only, but it will operate with an effective radiated power of 60 kW, and this, it is hoped, will be increased later. The estimates of its coverage so far issued show that it will-have a range of up to 50 miles to the north, west, and east, but rather less to the south. because of the screening effect of the North Downs. The number of people in the estimated coverage. area exceeds 11 million. The present plan is that the station will operate for about 18 months, when the authority has announced that its permanent transmitter for the London area should be ready. The permanent station is expected to have a much higher aerial than the present one of 175ft (and it may well share the B.B.C.’s new 640ft mast at the Crystal Palace after all) and a power some three or four times that of the temporary station. The site for the permanent station has not yet been announced.

The next station will be sited five miles south-east of Lichfield. This station is expected to begin programme transmissions in January or February next year. Its effective radiated power when transmissions begin will be around 150kW, but this may be increased later to 200 kW or more. The site of the station is 500ft above sea level and the signals will be transmitted from a 450ft mast. Work on clearing and excavating the site began in the middle of last month. The Lichfield station will bring into range places some 50 miles distant in the west, near Shrewsbury; some 45 miles away in the north, near Bakewell and Chesterfield, and in the east, near Grantham and Oakham; and nearly 60 miles away in the south, in the Gloucester and Cheltenham areas. The population in the coverage area is estimated to exceed six million.

The third transmitter for which definite plans have been announced by the I.T.A. will be sited on Rivington Moor, which is 1,450ft above sea level and five miles to the north-west of Bolton. The station is expected to go on the air during the spring of next year. The mast, like that at Lichfield, will be 450ft high and the station will have an effective radiated power of 100kW, which may be increased later to about 200kW. The range of the station is expected to vary somewhat because of the hilly nature of the surrounding country. The authority estimates that in the north, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancaster, and Settle will be in range; in the south, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, and Wrexham; and in the west, Liverpool and Colwyn Bay (nearly 60 miles away). Eastwards effective coverage will be curtailed by the ridge of the Pennines and is not likely to extend much beyond Rochdale. The area served by the station has over seven million people living in it.

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