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History of the manufacturer  

Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd.; Auckland

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Name: Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd.; Auckland    (NZ)  
Abbreviation: bellcorp
Products: Model types

Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd.
347 Queen Street, Auckland. (1948-1953)
247 Dominion Road, Mt Eden. (1953-1974)

Brands: Colt, General, Skymaster, Trutone & Wiseman’s Winner

Bell Radio-Television was the largest and fastest-growing radio company in New Zealand. They made a low-priced line of radiograms using solid oak timber instead of the usual Walnut veneer.

Al Bell started New Zealand's first experimental Television transmissions (License ZL1XQ) in 1957, this no doubt hastened the official transmissions, in the early '60s.

 From the late 1950’s they manufactured Television receivers. With the advent of colour TV, they combined with Dominion Radio & Electrical Corp. Ltd. around 1974, to form a new firm known as Consolidated Electronic Industries Ltd.


Founded: 1950
Closed: 1974
Production: 1950 - 1974

Al Bell joined Antone Ltd. around 1948. He registered Bell Radio-Television Corp. Ltd. on 22 November 1948 with a capital of £700. Bell was an astute businessman with the ambition to be first in the field in the production of television receivers. Soon after joining Antone, for unknown reasons the two original members of the group pulled out of the company leaving Al Bell in control.[1]

Due to the popularity of the Bell Colt and low-priced Truetone radiograms production facilities at Queen Street had become quite inadequate and in 1953 they moved to larger premises at 247 Dominion Road, Mt Eden.

After WW2 there was a boom in record playing and with the advent of long-playing records and demand for radiograms increased markedly and Bell opened a South Island factory in Christchurch which remained in operation for several years. [1]

In 1957 production was soaring but profits were not and in December 1957 Bell floated the company to raise £200,000 in capital.[2]

During 1957, Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd ran closed-circuit TV demonstrations around the country, starting at the Auckland birthday carnival at Western Springs.

In May Bell obtained an experimental licence for Station ZL1XQ and began broadcasting on Channel One with a 200-watt transmitter. transmitting from 7 to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

As the experimental licences restrict stations to programs of an educational nature. Al Bell gets around this by claiming that even entertainment programs are educational because he is training technicians. However, the Post Office did not agree and withheld their license in Wellington in July 1959. [3]

But Bell was still transmitting in Auckland in October 1959 transmitting from 7 to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays with interesting programs Canadian canoeing holiday, cartoon talk on road safety, and Foothold in Antarctica. Government regulations stipulated live transmissions were not allowed (only Bell staff could be involved with their transmissions) and programming had to be educational. [4]

The experimental license transmitter power limit of 200 watts resulted in a weak coverage for Bells transmission compared to the National broadcaster and put many Aucklanders out of range.

Bell felt there was a danger that the poor signal strength would damage the reputation of his manufacturing business. The last transmission was on 1 September 1960.[5]

With the introduction of colour TV Bell was faced with the problem, common to all manufacturers of the period, of having to combine with others or perish. Some companies who had previously made black and white sets individually, now amalgamated with others to produce a colour sets.  In Bell's case, the company combined with Dominion Radio & Electrical Corp. Ltd. around 1974, to form a new firm known as Consolidated Electronic Industries Ltd. For a time, production of colour sets was carried out at Dominion Road but after the initial demand for receivers had subsided production was concentrated at Otahuhu, and in 1980 the Dominion Road premises were finally vacated, thus ending Bell's 32-year history. [1]

[1] The Golden Age of Radio in the Home, Page 40.
[2] Press 10 Dec 1957, Page 19.
[3] Press 28 July 1959, Page 12.
[4] Television Transmissions in Auckland by ZL1XQ, October 1957
[5] Auckland Star 17 Apr 1962.

This manufacturer was suggested by Wolfgang Thiel.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
NZ  54 Colt 5B4 ECH81   
NZ  59 Champ ECH81  Permeability tuning. Selenium rectifier. 
NZ  63 General Cromwell 6MA-246 12BE6  5-valve (including magic eye), plus diode rectifier, dual wave superhet mantel receiv... 
NZ  59 General Purpose Oscilloscope ECF80  Small Oscilloscope produced by Bell Radio Television corp. in the late 1950's. Time base 2... 
NZ  60 Colt 5B60 ECH81  Bell (New Zealand) Model Colt 5B60 Known colours: Cream White, Light Green, Burgund... 
NZ  50 Cadet Unk 4 valve AC ECH42  This model was originally sold under the Antone brand.  The cabinet design is the ... 
NZ  67 Belinda 19 (Super 19) TV 202-19 EF183  This 19 inch B&W television tuned the VHF channels standard in New Zealand at the time... 
NZ  55 6P7 DF91  AC/DC/battery portable radio with push-pull output. B battery Eveready 490P. Referre... 
NZ  61 General La Fayette 6MA-308 12BE6  Made by Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd (NZ) under licence from Yaou Radio Mfg. Co. ... 
NZ  61 Colt 5B61 ECH81   
NZ  67 Colt 5B67 ECH81  This model is the last of the valve Bell Colts. Solid state versions followed. 4 valve ... 
NZ  52 Model 1 DF91  5 valve, AC or battery powered superhet with an RF stage. Uses a selenium rectifier of AC ... 


Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

[2] Press 10 Dec 1957, Page 19. Image sourced from Paperpast -National Library of New Zealandtbn_nz_bell_2_press_10_dec_1957_page_19.jpg
[3] Press 28 July 1959, Page 12. Image sourced from Paperpast -National Library of New Zealandtbn_nz_bell_press_28_july_1959_page_12.jpg
[5] Auckland Star 17 Apr 1962.tbn_nz_bell_5_auckland_star_17_apr_1962.jpg

Forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand
Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd.; Auckland
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Television Transmissions in Auckland by ZL1XQ, October 1957
Gary Cowans


The Press” Special Service

 AUCKLAND, October 27. At least 6000 Aucklanders sit in hushed and darkened rooms at their homes three nights a week to watch television. Although television transmissions in Auckland are experimental, they provide seven hours of viewing a week for about 14,000 people. In these transmissions is enough worthwhile content to make television quite rewarding entertainment.

Films provide almost all the fare. Some are old and almost fraying at the edges, most are very presentable, and many are extremely interesting.
Two channels are in use. One is used by the 1YA studio of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service and the other by ZL1XQ, the call sign of the Bell Radio and Television Corporation.

Within a couple of weeks, these stations will be joined by transmissions from Seddon Memorial Technical College, using the same channel as Bell.
The 1YA service transmits from 8.15 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays. The Bell transmissions are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, from 7.15 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays, and from 7 p.m. to about 9.30 p.m. on Thursdays.
Seddon College will transmit for about two hours on Wednesday nights. The addition of its transmissions will give viewers about nine hours of television a week.
Government regulations stipulate that only educational material may be seen on television. The same regulations rule out live transmissions.

As an alternative to films, 1YA shows the announcer. Both studios show test charts to enable sets to be tuned.


By way of variation, there are odd happenings, such as when the picture turns over or dissolves into lines and flashes. Although this is usually done for experimental reasons, viewers do not think this is amusing. They mutter as they leap from their chairs to adjust dials.  
If a set is working properly, once it is correctly tuned it should give an uninterrupted picture as long as the studio equipment is also working properly.
Interference can be a bugbear. A sewing machine next door or a car going past the home can sprinkle the screen with black spots, “snow” or white lines. Similar interference may also affect the sound.
A three-night watch last week gave a good idea of what is now available to viewers in Auckland. Apart from a live five-minute sketch to test studio cameras, the transmissions were made up entirely of films. Many were travelogues, a few were made by an American religious organisation and a number were truly educational features.
Some were films originally made for the cinema and others were true television films. Those films originally made for television are noticeable for a better contrast between black and white, thus affording a better image. Cinema black-and-white films suffer from some lack of contrast, but coloured cinema films are better.
Another disadvantage of cinema films is that the television camera cuts off some of the frame. Not all these films transfer well to television because they are conceived for a larger screen than that of a television set. Crowd scenes, for instance, tend on television to appear crammed.


These were the programmes for last week: —

October 18.—ZL1XQ: 7 p.m. Bible making; 7.30: Schooling in Aitutaki; 7.45: Religious film; 8.15: Canadian canoeing holiday; 9: Cartoon and talk on road safety; 9.5: Close down.

October 19.—ZL1XQ: 7.15 p.m.: Travelogue Panama; 7.45-8: Travelogue—England. IYA: 8.15: London airport; 8.30: Uses and history of paraffin; 8.50: 1956 Commonwealth Games, Cardiff; 9.25: Foothold in Antarctica; 9.45: Canadian social study; 10: Close down.

October 22.—ZL1XQ: 7 p.m.: Sights of London; 7.30: Rubber manufacture; 7.55: Dances of the South Pacific; 8.20: Religious film; 8.55: Metal machining; 9.20: Close down.

The five-minute sketch was stuck haphazardly in the middle of the film “Dances of the South Pacific.” Three young men, apparently technicians, took part in it.
After two or three hours of watching television, unaccustomed eyes may feel a little strained. The strain is eased if a soft light is on in the room at the same time; there is then less contrast between the screen and its surroundings.
About two or three sets a week are now being sold in Auckland. One with a 17-inch screen costs about £150 and one with a -21inch screen between £208 and £216.

One television technician estimates that a good receiver will give up to five years’ good service, but as a television set has three times as many parts as a radio receiver it may need repairs three times as often.

Press 28 Oct 1959, Page 7.

Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd.; Auckland
End of forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand


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