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Olympic games: BBC television broadcasting of 1948

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Vincent de Franco
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08.Aug.12 21:06

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Check this video below on the YouTube Channel of the Alexandra Palace Television Society (APTS) showing the first television broadcast of Olympic Games made by the BBC in 1948.

It also shows the "latest" outside broadcasting equipment used for the olympiad (EMI cameras and trailer)... as well as a copy of the image as seen on screen at that time... by only a few viewers.

Comment to this video (from the APTS Channel):

The XIV Modern Olympiad opened in London on 29th July and closed on 14th August 1948.

The event came to be known as the Austerity Games because of the economic climate and post-war rationing. No new venues were built for the games, and athletes were housed in existing accommodation instead of an Olympic Village. A record 59 nations were represented by 4,104 athletes, 3,714 men and 390 women, in 19 sport disciplines. Because of their roles as aggressors in World War II, Germany and Japan were not invited to participate; the USSR were invited but chose not to send any athletes. The United States team won the most total medals, 84, and the most gold medals, 38. The host nation won 23 medals, three of them gold.

The modest amount of around £1000 which was paid by the BBC for the broadcast rights of the 1948 Olympics in London, is dwarfed by the huge sums paid for TV rights in recent Olympics. In 1948 there were very few television receivers in London able to pick up broadcasts from the events taking place in the Wembley stadium; nevertheless, over 60 hours of coverage were broadcast by the BBC to the 50,000 homes within range. The Radio Times of 23 July 1948 predicted that 'the broadcasting and televising of the London Olympiad will be the biggest operation of its kind that the BBC has ever undertaken'; and in the BBC Year book for 1949 Mr Hotine, the BBC's Senior Superintendent Engineer, claimed that broadcasting the Games presented 'a planning and operational problem which had never before been encountered in the history of any broadcasting organization in the world' International interest in the event was naturally high, and was reflected in the provision made for the foreign media. The BBC's Broadcasting handbook for foreign correspondents provides a schedule of events, details of how to get to venues, and describes the broadcasting procedure (journalists were divided into groups, each of which had a BBC 'service organiser' based at the radio centre who would book radio facilities, tickets and so on). The radio centre itself had 8 studios and there were 12 mobile recording cars. There was also an information room with 'the official Olympic Games teleprinter service'. Journalists were expected to take public transport to get to the events.

The BBC Television coverage and details of the BBC Olympic Broadcasting Centre can be seen in this APTS Archive upload HERE.

This film footage is from the Archive Collection held by the Alexandra Palace Television Society.

~ APTS ~
Preserving the televisual past for the digital future

  
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