Olympics – TV’s top suspense story 

25 August 2016 tbs.pm/9472

From the first edition of TVWorld magazine, published on 24 September 1964

No event on the Olympic track in Tokyo is likely to equal the thrill of the race to flash television pictures of the Games halfway round the world to European viewers.

Millions want to see the races on the day that they are run. So, if everything goes according to plan, pictures will be bounced across the Pacific Ocean via America’s latest space satellite, Syncom III.

This will be just the beginning of a desperate race against the clock. Here are the tactics, lap by lap, starting with the opening of the games on October 10:

Recorded on tape

Cameras at the track will flash the Olympics to a huge television centre, where they will be recorded on tape.

Every day about 60 hours of tape will then have to be edited swiftly into a compact one-hour programme.

The tape is next beamed direct to Syncom III, 22,300 miles high over the Pacific.

The signal is picked up almost instantaneously by the U.S. Navy Station at Point Mugu, California, and sent 2,500 miles overland to Montreal.

There will be an hour’s furious work in a studio at Montreal Airport as a National Broadcasting Corporation [sic] team records the programme on vision tape.

And the same job will be done as a duplicate by a portable recording machine.

Both will be rushed to a DC 8 airliner, for the seven-hour run to Hamburg.

As the jet sweeps over the Atlantic, a team will edit the portable tape and prepare a commentary.


When the plane lands at Hamburg, a car will be waiting by the runway, ready to pick up the film and commentary and make the ten-minute dash to a European Television Centre.

Technicians will synchronise the tape and commentaries, some sent by ocean cable circuits from Tokyo. Then it will be on the air, networked to all Europe.

The positioning and testing of the satellite has been going very well and the experts don’t expect a hitch.

If there is one we will just have to wait until the following day for the film, which will also be flown by jet to Hamburg over the Polar route.

The coverage plan was first worked out by the ITV Olympics Committee, then adopted by the European Broadcasting Union, which handles the Eurovision link-up.

ITV will also have its own team of commentators and reporters in Tokyo to bring on-the-spot news about the athletes.

If the satellite link-up is a success ITV’s special team will be on every flight to Europe.

The speed of the satellite relay race has produced one amusing situation.

American time is three hours ahead of Japan’s. So pictures will reach California in the morning of events due to take place later that afternoon!

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