Eurovision Network in 1967 

11 May 2018

By J. Treeby Dickinson
Chief Engineer, Technical Centre of the E.B.U.

From the World Radio TV Handbook for 1968

Eurovision in 1967 will be memorable for the most extensive and elaborate programme that has yet been shown on the screens of the world’s television receivers. This was “Our World”, the first programme to be originated and broadcast simultaneously in five continents. Work on this two-hour transmission started in April, 1966, when the initial proposal prepared by Aubrey Singer of the B.B.C. was discussed by the E.B.U. Television Programme Committee. The idea of using all the available telecommunication satellites to link as many television services as possible in a programme illustrating the different aspects of life around the world, required the active co-operation of twenty-four television services, as well as of numerous telecommunication authorities and the organisations exploiting communication satellites.

Altogether 500 million viewers are estimated to have seen “Our World” — a greater number even than that for the Final of the World Cup Football Championships in 1966.

Although the technical problems posed by this programme were in their nature similar to those already tackled for earlier large-scale Eurovision productions, the combination of rapid switching between widely-separated sources and the multiplicity of transmission standards implied that the circuit-planning arrangements were the most complicated yet undertaken. Four satellites were used, two over the Atlantic Ocean, one — the main circuit — between the Earth-stations at Andover (United States) and Goonhilly Downs (United Kingdom) and the other — the reserve circuit — between the Earth-stations at Mill Village (Canada) and Pleumeur Bodou (France); the Pacific Ocean was bridged between the Earth-stations at Juo (Japan) and Brewster Flat (United States), which provided a three-way link between Rosman (United States), Toowoomba (Australia) and Kashima (Japan). As is well known, the efforts to associate the members of Intervision with this programme failed, as the television services of the Eastern European countries withdrew a few days before the transmission, necessitating considerable modifications to the plans at short notice.

The all-electronic converter developed by the BBC for converting colour-television signals from the American standards to those used in Europe.

Standards converters were deployed so that all contributions were distributed without double-conversion to areas using the originating transmission standards, the contributions from Australia, however, being originated on 525 lines to simplify the problem. It was necessary to provide audio-delay facilities at the arrival ends of the transatlantic and transpacific telephone cables to keep the reserve programme-sound synchronous with the picture being relayed by the satellite, which was following a much longer path. In addition to the programme-sound networks, six communication networks were provided for co-ordinating the transmission and distributing the guide commentaries.

The other main innovation during 1967 was the introduction of Eurovision colour transmissions. Several experimental exchanges and loop-tests were arranged during the early part of the year to enable Members of the E.B.U. to verify the performance obtained over the circuits between France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The first programme distributed over the Eurovision network for broadcasting in colour by E.B.U. Members was the “International Star Parade” from West Berlin on 26th August, 1967, the day after the inauguration of colour-television broadcasting in Germany. It was broadcast in colour in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden, the colour information being removed before transmission in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, where is was broadcast in monochrome. Colour reception was reported as being of high quality at all points where the colour signal was broadcast.

The number of programme exchanges in colour was limited at the beginning by the small number of organisations that had started colour-television services. By the beginning of 1968, however, regular colour broadcasting will have begun in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, thus providing a wider range of both sources and destinations for colour programmes. The problem of transcoding between the SECAM system used in France and the PAL system used in the other three countries mentioned above has been one of the handicaps which has complicated the work of Eurovision. It has been agreed, therefore, that, as a matter of principle, colour signals will be distributed over the Eurovision Network in the system in which they are originated and that organisations requiring a different colour or monochrome signal for their own purposes will effect the necessary transcoding locally. Exchanges with the countries using the 525-line NTSC-colour system, such as the E.B.U. Associate Members in the United States, Canada, , Mexico and Japan are also possible through the use of the electronic field-store colour converter developed by the B.B.C., first used on 10th September, 1967, to relay the ‘World Series’ Golf Championships from Akron, Ohio in the United States to viewers in the United Kingdom. This converter is used also when the B.B.C. broadcasts tape-recordings in colour obtained from the United States and other 525-line sources.

A new point-to-point link from München to Praha via Nuremberg and a new national distribution circuit from Strasbourg to Besancon are expected to be taken into service during 1968.

The regular exchange of monochrome programmes has continued to develop, with a total of 1845 transmissions in 1966 planned and directed by the E.B.U. Technical Centre, Brussels, having a total duration of 1146 hours — representing increases over 1965 of 19 per cent, and 18 per cent., respectively. Figures for the first half of 1967 are 1001 transmissions and 555 hours, indicating that the rise is not quite so rapid this year. The programme category showing the greatest rate of growth was again the Daily News Exchange, which was particularly busy at the time of the Middle East crisis in the Spring of 1967. An interesting trend is the increase in the average number of organisations receiving each programme. Among the entertainment programmes with the biggest audiences broadcast by E.B.U. Members were those organised by the E.B.U. Television Programme Committee, such as the Eurovision Song Contest which was won in 1967 by the United Kingdom entry; the 1968 Contest will be originated and distributed in colour.

Almost all E.B.U. Active Members having television services can now take part in Eurovision exchanges; only Iceland, cut off of the sea, and the Members in the Eastern Mediterranean are still “isolated”. Investigations into the possibilities of using a satellite system, to replace the international junctions of the terrestrial network are continuing, but, in view of extremely far-reaching technical and financial problems of both the satellite and the many Earth-stations that would be needed, this is still far from being put into effect. One of the advantages of a satellite system would be the possibility of immediately extending the Eurovision facilities to countries for which the installation of a terrestrial link would be very difficult or even impossible. The near future, however, will require a more intensive use of the existing facilities, for example, a second Daily News Exchange will be introduced from 1st January, 1968, and in this context the lease of a nucleus of terrestrial international vision circuits, to cover the period until a satellite system could be utilised, is being investigated. The Permanent Sound Network continues to be heavily used, and the conference network has been extended to Madrid.

The plans of the E.B.U. Operation Group are already well advanced for the distribution in Europe of the television coverage — probably in colour — of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.


You Say

1 response to this article

Jeremy Rogers 11 May 2018 at 2:48 pm

The listing for International Star Parade from Genome

from Berlin
A ‘ live’ programme to celebrate the opening of colour television in Germany

Artists taking part include:

Introduced by Vivi Bach and Dietmar Schonherr
South-West Radio Dance Orchestra
Conducted by Rolf Hans Muller
The Pamela Devis Ballet
Scene described by Tom Sloan
Produced by PETER LICHTWITZ for ARD, First German Television Service

Your comment

Enter it below

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Monday 8 July 2024