1922 BBC 1962 

21 March 2023 tbs.pm/78619


From 2LO to ‘Go’

On 14 November 1962 public service broadcasting in Britain will be forty years old. That means that about half the population is older than broadcasting itself. Yet within those forty years the microphone has emerged from the confines of the studio to accompany man into Outer Space: and it has been partnered during the last twenty-six years by the television camera, with its special ability to open the window on the world for us all.

The first programme put out by the BBC (then the British Broadcasting Company) came from station 2LO in London. The idea of listening to the wireless caught on. Within six years of starting the wireless had acquired an audience of two million, and the microphone was now getting about among the big outdoor events. The BBC began to design the pattern of broadcasting that we know today when the listener and the viewer are given the best of drama and other entertainments; talks, discussion and documentaries to stimulate thought; the enjoyment of a musical tradition created by the BBC; and news reported with honesty and impartiality. Broadcasting is, in fact, part of the fabric of our society.

The BBC is a public service. It is as interested in serving the remotest listener and viewer as it is in serving the urban populations. It has been described as ‘the main instrument of broadcasting in the United Kingdom’. As such, it is national in its coverage and in its character, providing the best in broadcasting to the infinite variety of people, with their different interests, opinions and preferences, who make up the nation. The listener and viewer may choose Panorama or Family Favourites, a poetry reading or The Dales: the policy in BBC broadcasting is that the programmes should be diverse and that the minorities as well as the mass of people should be satisfied.

In its fortieth year the BBC provides three services in sound radio, a national television service and an extensive service of broadcasting to other countries. More than 25 million people look at some BBC television in the course of a day and over 26 million people listen to some sound radio.

The BBC also broadcasts to the world in forty languages. As a public service the BBC is free to concern itself only with those things that the viewer and listener want. And to move forward, with its accumulated experience, to a future as exciting as the past.


The BBC expands

1922 14 Nov Daily broadcasting began from the London station of the British Broadcasting Company (2LO)
15 Nov Regional broadcasting began from Birmingham and Manchester
1923 30 Dec First Continental programme contributed by landline from Radiola, Paris
31 Dec First broadcast of chimes of Big Ben to usher in the New Year
1924 4 Apr Broadcasts for schools began
23 Apr First broadcast speech by King George V from the opening of the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley
1932 19 Dec Empire Service from Daventry inaugurated
25 Dec First Round-the-Empire Christmas Day programme and broadcast message by King George V
1936 2 Nov High-definition Television Service from Alexandra Palace officially inaugurated
1938 3 Jan First foreign-language service began (in Arabic)
1945 29 Jul Light Programme introduced
1946 29 Sep Third Programme introduced
1950 27 Aug First television outside broadcast from the Continent (Calais)
1955 2 May First VHF sound broadcasting transmitting station opened at Wrotham
10 Oct Colour television test transmissions began from Alexandra Palace
1959 18 Jun First transatlantic transmission by BBC cablefilm process
1961 22 Aug First demonstration of live colour tv to public by BBC
1962 20 Feb First messages from space (U.S. astronaut Col. Glenn’s messages) retransmitted by BBC


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