Technical operations 

27 January 2023

Two men being winched up a tower

NEARING THE TOP. Men go up more than 1,000 ft [305m] in an erector’s chair during the erection of one of the ITA’s new transmitting masts.


The cover of ITV 1966

From ITV 1966

Early in 1966, thirty transmitting stations owned and operated by the Independent Television Authority will be bringing programmes to ninety-nine per cent of the population of the United Kingdom. Early in 1965 a new Welsh service was provided in South Wales. Nine other new or modified stations opened during 1965 or opening early in 1966 will fill some remaining major gaps in the coverage of Independent Television’s VHF (very-high-frequency) service. In addition a UHF (ultra-high-frequency) station network is being jointly developed by the ITA and the BBC, both at new and existing sites.

Station Operation

Twenty of the Authority’s stations have engineering staff for operations and maintenance purposes for sixteen hours per day; one has maintenance staff only for eight hours per day; and eight are unmanned programme relay stations. The manned stations are equipped with duplicate sets of transmitters, each set composed of one vision and one sound unit, for the purpose of reliability. One station, St Hilary, which broadcasts two programmes, has two duplicate sets.

The unmanned relay stations also have duplicate equipments; they receive programmes on one channel from a ‘parent’ station which, after amplification, are re-broadcast on another channel. They are supervised and, normally, controlled by staff at the respective ‘parent’ stations but, should control be lost, can continue to operate automatically. The unmanned stations are very successful in the role of gap-filling or area extension for main stations.

Vision and Sound Links

A network of vision and sound circuits provides the links between the various ITV areas and between the studio centres and the ITA’s transmitters. This network is rented by the Authority from the General Post Office. The vision circuit totals about 3,100 miles [4898km], about half of which is built up by microwave radio systems and half by undergound coaxial cables. To carry signals to the more remote transmitting stations and to meet short-notice requirements, the Authority has itself installed a number of microwave links which are fed by an ‘off air’ signal emitted from another transmitter.

Research and Development

There has been further study by the Authority’s staff of the various proposals on line standards and colour. Senior engineers of the Authority and the programme companies have taken part in inter- national meetings convened by the European Broadcasting Union in an attempt to select the best system of colour television for public broadcasting through- out Western Europe.

Some of the more specialized engineering problems in television broadcasting and in the point-to-point radio communications field are studied by the Telecommunications and Experimental Group in the Authority’s engineering department. Various aspects of radio propagation in the television bands have been under study during the past year. Much field work has been done in connection with the development of new methods of predicting the service areas of television broadcasting stations. Equipment for the measurement of signal strength variation with height has been completed and a number of successful field trials have been made in which measurements in Band III to a height of 2,000 ft [610m] have been obtained. Work on equipment for the remote monitoring of unattended stations has continued and a successful field trial of one system was made between the Presely and Arfon stations in West Wales. Development on a number of other items of specialized video and RF equipment has been continued.

Studio Facilities

Independent Television programmes are produced and presented by the programme companies from more than sixty studios in centres at Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Carlisle, Dover, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Plymouth, St Helier and Southampton. The total working floor area of these studios is over 170,000 sq. ft [15793m²], individual studios ranging in size up to 14,000 sq. ft [1300m²]. In addition the programme companies operate extensive outside broadcast units of various kinds.


Tallest TV Masts in Europe


Early in 1966 the ITA starts transmissions from its three new cylindrical masts at Emley Moor in Yorkshire (1,265 ft [386m] tall), Winter Hill in Lancashire (1,015 ft [309m]), and Belmont in Lincolnshire (1,265 ft). The masts will provide improved reception of ITV in a number of areas and will be available for future UHF transmissions.




Outside Broadcasts


Independent Television is very well equipped to provide the facilities required for the important range of television production covered by outside broad- casts. Sport is a major category, but the whole range of television programmes draws fully on the outside broadcast – including news, documentaries, education, drama and light entertainment. On special occasions the programme companies combine their resources, for example when Independent Television covered the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill (a programme subsequently awarded the Grand Prix at the International Competition for Outside Broadcasts in Cannes).



Outside broadcasts come from a great variety of locations, both indoor and outdoor. The procedure varies according to the circumstances. Often an event is covered by several TV cameras directed from a mobile control room, with cable or micro- wave links carrying the signals eventually to the transmitters to provide a live broadcast. Alternatively the programme may be recorded on videotape, either at the studio or in a mobile unit, for later transmission. For certain assignments film cameras can be used most advantageously and make a significant contribution to outside coverage.







You Say

1 response to this article

Mike Jordan 28 January 2023 at 12:57 pm

Regarding todays page on Technical Operations and especailly the bit about building the new Emley Moor mast, it is apity it fell down on March 19th 1963 due to excess ice on the guy wires!

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