Think again! 

3 April 2018

From the Daily Express for 21 December 1966


Colour TV looks like being stillborn in Britain if the Government sticks by its full-stop television policy outlined in yesterday’s White Paper.

TV stands still — no extra channels, no colour except on B.B.C.2 a year from now. After two years of waiting, gambling millions on the colour TV market, the Industry has been handed the biggest dud squib it ever got from any Government.

James Thomas, television critic of the Daily Express

There is not even the incentive of extra programme hours for the TV show-makers, who stand by in nail-biting frustration while the world export market slips away.

Decisions like the one to deny colour TV to the ITV channel seem to have been made in the face of all responsible advice, both from the equipment manufacturers and the programme planners.

And indeed, some of the top men behind the TV scenes claim that the Postmaster-General was merely getting his well-digested White Paper out of the way before studying fresh proposals to give colour the chance of a fair start.

This very week a new plan to give colour to ITV will be considered by the Post Office — making the White Paper look slightly ridiculous.

No hint

It is, in fact, the plan I have been advocating here for months — to use the extra aerials which already exist on B.B.C.2 masts in the big population areas for the future ITV channel and so give millions colour on both B.B.C.2 and ITV2 by 1968.

Though the Postmaster-General gave no hint of this yesterday as he stonily put the ban on ITV colour for three years, both the industry and the ITV companies believe that permission to get on with ITV colour stations will come in a matter of weeks.

For a fortune is already either spent or in the pipeline for ITV colour programmes. More than £1 million has already been committed to colour studio development and colour mobile camera units by such companies as A.B.C. and ATV, and Granada has placed heavy orders for colour gear.

But the colour decision was only one shock for an uncertain industry which sees its markets slipping as the European countries move much more decisively towards colour and more channels.

Only two

This puny pup of a White Paper, a mere eight pages long after two years of investigation, makes only two concessions to expansion — and neither of those is liable to cheer up the nation very much.

The idea the B.B.C. should run an all-day light music programme is likely to get a rough ride from the Musicians’ Union.

And the plan to give nine towns experimental radio run by the B.B.C. and local authorities reeks of boredom.

Anyone who has ever heard the only legal local radio station — in Douglas, I.O.M.— catches on at once to the fact that a good deal of its success and appeal are strictly because it is commercial.

It isn’t the records which tempt the listeners from Radio Caroline — it is the small ads about lost dogs and bicycles for sale, the swop-shop programmes which help Mrs. Williams lose an unwanted sewing machine and gain an ironing board.

There is also the vital fact that radio stations are not run on charity. Who is going to foot the bill for Radio Heckmondwyke — the Co-op ?

But the main thing about this depressive White Paper is the lack of reasons for delaying the long-overdue advance of the TV service.

There may be a credit squeeze — but what is more than £6 million of public money doing in the ITA’s bank if it is not specifically for re-investment in the television service ?

This nest-egg is enough to give the massive ITV public in the North, the Midlands and London colour programmes within a few months of the start of colour on B.B.C.-2.

I do not feel disgusted merely because I shall be denied the sight of Charlie Drake in colour — it is because the future growth of broadcasting has its own importance in the state of the nation.

For prestige

A healthy colour TV Industry, like America’s, is vital if we are to export our equipment for hard cash and our programmes for both hard cash and prestige.

Within months, colour programmes will be flying over the satellites from Tokyo to Sydney, to San Francisco to London. But their only outlet in Britain will be for the selected viewers of B.B.C.-2.

That and a £10 licence will keep the audience small — and a small audience means a small industry.

I hope the television advisory committee can persuade the Postmaster-General to think again.

This is no time to goodbye to the millions and the effort which have already gone into colour TV.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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