New TV system needed 

11 July 2017

Present 25-Year-Old System Is Obsolete

By Paul Adorian, Managing Director

Associated-Rediffusion, Ltd.


From the US Radio Annual and Television Yearbook for 1962

If we had to start a television system today from scratch, I am sure it would be entirely different from the one we have now. Many people forget this when talking about how many lines or extra colors we should add to our picture. The real problem today is the much more basic one — have we got an efficient system?

I think the answer to this question is a categorical “No.” During the next 10 to 15 years, we could develop and put into practice a completely new system which would, of course, run parallel with the existing system as would a color or a higher line system.

At present, we send out 25 complete pictures a second. The view of a person speaking, for example, is scanned 25 times a second, even though the background has not changed. In fact, less than 10 per cent of the average information in a television picture is new — 90 per cent of the information we transmit is repetitive and wasteful.

This is because we have inherited a system which is 25 years old. It was extremely good 25 years ago, but with all the scientific knowledge available in this country today, it is possible to develop a new system which would certainly compress that useful signal twofold, even if not tenfold.

If this were done, it would enable us to double the channels available for television transmissions in the limited range of Bands I and III — despite the fact that we could still make use of Bands IV and V.

Several suggestions have been made for the future and several new lines of thought are already being developed. I believe that if we are going to have a change, we should have a real change which will allow us to make the maximum use of the wavebands available. There is absolutely no reason why such a new system, using 625 lines, should not be interchangeable with other countries. In this way, we would get the full advantages of a 625-line system while at the same time making better use of our available bandwidth space.

If Britain led the world in this, I am sure that other countries would eventually follow. It will cost us between 750 and 1,000 million pounds to make any sort of change. Between half and three-quarters of that expenditure will be incurred anyhow, due to sets becoming obsolete, but probably between a quarter to one-third will be incurred whatever alternative is decided upon. That will involve millions of pounds, so we might as well have a good change.

I believe that the idea of adopting this system is the most materialistic and realistic solution. Just as we in this country produced the first working television system in the world, so we now have the chance to produce an even more efficient system, firstly to our own good and subsequently to the general benefit of the whole world.

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