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What was the first broadcast television programme?

What was the first broadcast television programme?

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Was it The Queen's Messenger or The Man with the Flower in his Mouth?

IMDB claims that The Queen's Messenger was the first, but I've always understood it was The Man with the Flower in his Mouth. So which was it?

I was asked to define 'broadcast' and 'programme'…

programme - a fiction or non-fiction television show, intended to convey content of some kind, not an experimental broadcast purely for seeing if the system worked.

broadcast - sent via radio waves, available to members of the public who owned ordinary (at the time) television sets.


The earliest TV program broadcast which can be proven as not being experimental is Charles Francis Jenkins' revolving windmill segment broadcast on the 2nd of July, 1928, but there may have been others before this.

While The Queen's Messenger, broadcast in the US on the 11th of September 1928, can probably claim to be the first TV drama, it was not the first TV programme which was "not an experimental broadcast purely for seeing if the system worked." The same probably applies for the The Man with the Flower in His Mouth, broadcast on the 14th of July 1930, as the first TV play in the UK.


In the UK, John Logie Baird had been demonstrating and / or broadcasting since at least 1925(1) but this should almost certainly be considered as primarily experimental until 1928. Then, on the 20th of February 1928, the world's first TV sales department was opened in London by the American retailer Harry Selfridge Snr. in his London store to sell Baird's 'Televisors'. Baird had first demonstrated his system at the store in 1925, and Selfridge believed in the future of televison. Thus, it can be argued that, as Baird was broadcasting programmes (via a transmitter on the roof of Selfridges) to appliances sold and licensed, the broadcasts were not purely experimental. Pinpointing the moment at which this became true, though, is effectively impossible.

From the British "Journal of The Television Society", September 1941. Courtesy of Steve Dichter

Interestingly, in 1929 Baird's broadcasts could be seen as far away as Capri (Italy) and Madeira:

… a young Bessarabian engineer… ordered two sets from England, one to pick up sound and the other vision… early broadcasts, some of which reached even further than Capri. On the island of Madeira, off the north African coast, W. L. Wraight, an amateur English engineer and member of the newly formed Television Society, built an aerial from copper tubing, installed it on top of his house in the island's capital, Funchal, and got fairly good pictures from the mast over 1,500 miles away on top of Selfridge's [London]

Source: Joe Moran, Armchair Nation

Meanwhile, in the US, General Electric (W2XB) began broadcasting in January 1928. In May 1928, an article appeared in The Washington Post informing the public of broadcasts "three afternoons weekly" on General Electric's "Radio Picture Service", and announcing "Opera stars to sing". There is also a reference "For the benefit of those who wish to experiment with television reception",: the context seems indicate potential viewers trying out the service. Then, in September, came the first TV drama The Queen's Messenger, but sources do not indicate whether this was in any way experimental; at any rate, only 4 television sets were 'tuned in'.

Also in the US, Charles Francis Jenkins started the first commercially licensed TV broadcasting station (W3XK) on the 2nd of July, 1928, and made his first broadcast on the same day:

Jenkins's first program consisted of a ten-minute segment of a revolving windmill.

According to an article in the Washington Post dated June 6th, the broadcasts to be made from July 2nd onward had been tested during 'the past three weeks'. Thus, the windmill program and (presumably) those which followed it were not experimental broadcasts as the equipment had already been tested.

Source: earlytelevision.org

Jenkins can also lay claim to the first studio exclusively for TV productions where productions were initially filmed in silhouette as this was all the technology was capable of at first.

Nov 6th, 1929 "note that the performers are shown in silhouette, that being the form in which the pictures are received over the air" Source: Early Television Museum

The company continued broadcasting until 1932, when it shut down due to its failure to make a profit.

Back in the UK, after witnessing a demonstration broadcast by Baird in September 1928, the BBC (reluctantly by most accounts) had it's first scheduled TV programme of comedy and music on the 30th of September 1929 at 11.04am(2). Baird himself estimated 29 people saw it(3), 20 of them using sets they had built themselves. According to the BBC's own TV history page,

by the end of 1929 Baird was running a programme of regular television broadcasts which would continue for the next six years.

It was during this time (14 March 1930) that The Man with the Flower in His Mouth (link to video) was broadcast. This site calls it the first "official sound and vision television broadcast" but the BBC itself makes no such statement. Rather, it was the first broadcast using the BBCs new radio transmitter. The BBC does not refer to a first official broadcast until 1936 (“a bulletin of British Movietone News”).


If we accept any of the following as "not an experimental broadcast purely for seeing if the system worked" then the first TV program(me) would be either (1) one of Baird's broadcasts in the first half of 1928, or (2) one of Jenkins' broadcasts starting in July, or (3) one of General Electric's (W2XB) broadcasts made prior to The Queen's Messenger. Of these, it would seem that only Jenkins' broadcasts can be proven as not experimental.


If, ultimately, it is unclear as to what were the first non-experimental TV program(me)s in the US and the UK, there are a few interesting TV 'firsts' which are generally not disputed:

  • 1930 Jenkins is fined for a breach in regulations for broadcasting the first TV commercial.
  • April 1931 First movie broadcast on television (Police Patrol, made in 1925). (4)
  • 02 June 1931 First outside broadcast (Epsom Derby, England) in the world.

Footnote references:

(1) Russel Burns, John Logie Baird

(2) ibid

(3) Joe Moran, Armchair Nation

(4) Patrick Robertson, Film Facts

President Truman makes first transcontinental television broadcast

On September 4, 1951, President Harry S. Truman’s opening speech before a conference in San Francisco is broadcast across the nation, marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast. The speech focused on Truman’s acceptance of a treaty that officially ended America’s post-World War II occupation of Japan.

The broadcast, via then-state-of-the-art microwave technology, was picked up by 87 stations in 47 cities, according to CBS. In his remarks, Truman lauded the treaty as one that would help 𠇋uild a world in which the children of all nations can live together in peace.” As communism was threatening to spread throughout Pacific Rim nations such as Korea and Vietnam, the U.S. recognized the need to create an ally in a strong, democratic Japan.

Since the end of World War II in 1945, Japan had been occupied and closely monitored by the American military under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. By 1951, six years later, Truman considered the task of rebuilding Japan complete. Truman praised the Japanese people’s willingness to go along with the plan and expressed his pride in having helped to rebuild Japan as a democracy. Gone was the old militaristic police state in its place was a country with a new constitution, unions for protecting the rights of laborers and voting rights for women, among many other positive changes.

The Launch of ITV

ITV started broadcasting to the London area on the 22nd of September 1955. The first programme was an outside broadcast from London’s Guildhall of a dinner to celebrate ITV’s launch.

Prior to the start of regular programmes, a trailer had been shown to give viewers an idea of what the new service would be like.

Immediately before the outside broadcast, a 4-minute film was shown, featuring scenes of London and voiced and written by Cecil Lewis.

Both the trailer and the film are available below for you to download and enjoy. The trailer was voiced by Leslie Mitchell and in it he refers to Associated Broadcasting. This was the original name of Lew Grade’s company. Unfortunately its initials, ABC, were also used by another company, so after a court case, the original ABC changed its name to ATV.

Click on the screen shots below to view them, in MPEG 1 format.

Unless you have a very fast Internet connection, right-click the pictures below and choose “Save Target As” to download the file so you can view them off-line.

9 When Did Regular Programming Begin?

In the United States, popular culture history paints the 1930s as a decade of radio listening, and it's true that many families gathered around to hear President Roosevelt's fireside chats. Although NBC had fifteen hours of programming a week by 1939, this "regular program schedule," as described by Hutchinson in Here is Television, seems thin compared to the networks' offerings a decade later.

The late 1940s drew more eyes to the television set after World War II, and the 1950s solidified the medium's popularity. Hutchinson notes in his book that England was far ahead of America, airing King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's Coronation procession, London stage plays, sporting events, and more from 1936 to 1939.

DuMont Television Network

Did you expect the fourth network to be Fox? You may be shocked to learn that Fox didn’t exist as a TV broadcast entity until 1986. DuMont launched in 1946. It’s fair to say that DuMont was grown in a lab, as the company was founded out of Dr. Allen B. DuMont’s DuMont Laboratories.

The Laboratories started in DuMont’s basement and focused heavily on the technical side of TV. They were creating receivers by 1938 and figured out how to make cathode ray tubes last for 1000 hours, a 976-hour increase over their original life span. This new tube made consumer TV sets a practical reality. DuMont also made millions during World War II working on radar for the U.S. armed forces.

DuMont’s interest in television extended to his launch of TV station W3XWT in Washington, D.C. in 1945 this was backed in part by Paramount Pictures, which was a major shareholder in DuMont Laboratories. Though the network started slowly and they had no pre-existing radio network to draw on for shows or talent, DuMont had a number of ideas that adapted well to TV. They would run shows from Broadway. They were the first network to broadcast a feature film (Talk Fast, Mister), and also the first network with a regular situation comedy (Mary Kay and Johnny). DuMont can also claim the first televised soap opera, (Faraway Hill, which innovated the “Continued Next Week” end-title card) and the first science fiction show, Captain Video and His Video Rangers. The network also broke ground with the first shows featuring minority leads: The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, starring Anna May Wong, and The Hazel Scott Show, a music program hosted by Trinidadian-born performer Hazel Scott, the first black person with an American TV show.

Unfortunately, even with a portfolio of groundbreaking shows, DuMont struggled. A combination of intense competition, a lack of resources that other networks had from diverse interests in radio, and ever-shifting FCC regulations hurt the company’s cash flow. Some concerns were incredibly political, such as the fact that AT&T would only allow DuMont to broadcast 37 weekly hours of prime time content along their coaxial lines, whereas they allowed NBC and CBS 100 hours each per week. Other concerns had to do with the machinations of Paramount the company eventually took over DuMont completely, even though it had a complex web of relationships with the other networks, notably ABC. By 1956, the network had been shut down completely.

From the 1950s until the 1980s, the so-called “Big Three” dominated American television. The advent of HBO in the 1970s, the proliferation of cable stations in the early 1980s, and the arrival of the Fox Television Network in 1986 altered the landscape. Two more networks, The WB and UPN, came up in the 1990s, but eventually merged to form The CW, which remains on air today. The five broadcast networks still manage to survive, and even thrive, in a crowded content space that includes direct competition from an ever-increasing number of streaming outlets.

However, even that game continues to change. In 2014, CBS announced CBS All Access it was the first subscription streaming service mobilized by an American broadcast network. With shows like Star Trek: Discovery and upcoming programs like Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot appearing first on CBS All Access, and word that the other networks may be developing their own platforms, the future of the networks isn’t entirely clear. Even if we aren’t sure where TV is going, history has proven that the American public will, without a doubt, be watching.

Featured image credit: DuMont’s program We, the People broadcasting live in 1952. (Photo by Judd Sheppard Wikimedia Commons)

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Launch Edit

British television at the time of BBC2's launch consisted of two channels: the BBC Television Service and the ITV network made up of smaller regional companies. Both channels had existed in a state of competition since ITV's launch in 1955, and both had aimed for a populist approach in response. The 1962 Pilkington Report on the future of broadcasting noticed this, and that ITV lacked any culturally relevant programming. It therefore decided that Britain's third television station should be awarded to the BBC. [1]

Prior to its launch, the new BBC2 was promoted on the BBC Television Service: the soon-to-be-renamed BBC1. The animated adverts featured the campaign mascots "Hullabaloo", a mother kangaroo, and "Custard", her joey. Prior to, and several years after, the channel's formal launch, the channel broadcast "Trade Test Transmissions", short films made externally by companies such as Shell and BP, which served to enable engineers to test reception, but became cult viewing.

The channel was scheduled to begin at 19:20 on 20 April 1964, showing an evening of light entertainment, starting with the comedy show The Alberts, a performance from Soviet comedian Arkady Raikin, and a production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, culminating with a fireworks display. However, at around 18:45 a huge power failure, originating from a fire at Battersea Power Station, caused Television Centre, and indeed much of west London, to lose all power. BBC1 was able to continue broadcasting via its facilities at Alexandra Palace, but all attempts to show the scheduled programmes on the new channel failed. Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday ITV franchise-holder, offered to transmit on the BBC's behalf, but their gesture was rejected. At 22:00 programming was officially postponed until the following morning. As the BBC's news centre at Alexandra Palace was unaffected, they did in fact broadcast brief bulletins on BBC2 that evening, beginning with an announcement by the newsreader Gerald Priestland at around 19:25. [2] There was believed to be no recording made of this bulletin, but a videotape was discovered in early 2003. [3]

By 11:00 on 21 April, power had been restored to the studios and programming began, thus making Play School the first programme to be shown officially on the channel. The launch schedule, postponed from the night before, was then successfully shown that evening, albeit with minor changes. In reference to the power cut, the transmission opened with a shot of a lit candle which was then sarcastically blown out by presenter Denis Tuohy. [3]

To establish the new channel's identity and draw viewers to it, the BBC decided that a widely promoted, lavish series would be essential in its earliest days. The production chosen was The Forsyte Saga (1967), a no-expense-spared adaptation of the novels by John Galsworthy, featuring well-established actors Kenneth More and Eric Porter. Critically for the future of the fledgling channel, the BBC's gamble was hugely successful, with an average of six million viewers tuning in per episode: a feat made more prominent by the fact that only 9 million were able to receive the channel at the time. [ citation needed ]

Technological advancements Edit

Unlike BBC1 and ITV, BBC2 was broadcast only on the 625 line UHF system, so was not available to viewers still using sets only capable of receiving the 405-line VHF system. This created a market for dual standard receivers which could switch between the two systems. Set manufacturers increased production of UHF sets in anticipation of a large market demand for the new BBC2, but the market did not materialise. The early technical problems, which included being unable to transmit US-recorded videotapes due to a lack of system conversion from the US NTSC system, were resolved by a committee headed by James Redmond.

On 1 July 1967, during the Wimbledon Championships, BBC2 became the first channel in Europe to begin regular broadcasts in colour, using the PAL system. [4] The thirteen-part series Civilisation (1969) was created as a celebration of two millennia of western art and culture to showpiece the new colour technology. [5] BBC1 and ITV later joined BBC2 on 625-line UHF band but continued to simulcast on 405-line VHF until 1985. BBC1 and ITV simultaneously introduced PAL colour on UHF on 15 November 1969, although they both had broadcast some programmes in colour "unofficially" since September 1969.

In 1979, the station adopted the first computer-generated channel identification (ident) in Britain, with its use of the double striped, orange '2' logo. The ident, created in-house by BBC engineers, lasted until March 1986 and heralded the start of computer-generated logos.

As the switch to digital-only terrestrial transmission progressed, BBC Two was (in each region in turn) the first analogue TV channel to be replaced with the BBC multiplex, at first four, then two weeks ahead of the other four channels. This was required for those relay transmitters that had no current Freeview service giving viewers time to purchase the equipment unless they had already selected a satellite or cable service. The last region for BBC Two to end on analogue terrestrial television was Northern Ireland on 10 October 2012.

At the 2012 Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC Two was named "Terrestrial Channel of the Year". [6]

A high-definition simulcast of BBC Two began broadcasting on 26 March 2013, replacing the standalone BBC HD channel. [7] As of 29 November 2018 [update] , there are three variations of BBC Two HD (Wales, Northern Ireland, and England). [8]

The channel controllers have been:

  • 1964–1965: Michael Peacock
  • 1965–1969: David Attenborough
  • 1969–1974: Robin Scott
  • 1974–1978: Aubrey Singer
  • 1978–1982: Brian Wenham
  • 1982–1987: Graeme MacDonald
  • 1987–1992: Alan Yentob
  • 1992–1996: Michael Jackson
  • 1996–1999: Mark Thompson
  • 1999–2004: Jane Root
  • 2004–2008: Roly Keating
  • 2008–2014: Janice Hadlow
  • 2014–2016: Kim Shillinglaw[9]
  • 2017–present: Patrick Holland

Adam Barker served as Acting Controller of the channel after Janice Hadlow left the channel in March 2014 and until Kim Shillinglaw began as the new permanent occupant of the post.

From 2013, the Controller of BBC Two was given the expanded title Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, with ultimate oversight of the BBC Four service added to their duties (a BBC Four "Channel Editor", reporting up to this Controller, was allocated day-to-day operational control of Four).

The channel forms part of the BBC Television executive group and is answerable to the head of that department, and to the BBC Trust.

On 20 January 2016, Kim Shillinglaw announced that she had decided to leave the BBC as the Controller of BBC Two & BBC Four, as a result of the reorganisation, the posts of Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four were closed. [10]

Patrick Holland became Channel Controller of BBC Two in March 2017, following his earlier appointment as Channel Editor in July 2016. [11]

BBC Two's remit is to be a mixed-genre channel appealing to a broad adult audience with programmes of depth and substance. It should carry the greatest amount and range of knowledge building programming of any BBC television channel, complemented by distinctive comedy, drama and arts programming.

BBC Two's historical scope was arts, culture, some comedy and drama, and appealing to audiences not already served by BBC One or ITV. Over its first thirty or so years the channel developed a reputation for screening highly praised and prestigious drama series, among these Boys from the Blackstuff (1982), 1991's highly successful The Men's Room, a spectacular costume drama Middlemarch (1994) or 1996's critically acclaimed Our Friends in the North. The channel's "highbrow" profile is also in part attributable to a long history of demanding documentaries of all types, beginning with Civilisation and The Ascent of Man in the 1960s. Like the early Channel 4, BBC Two also established for itself a reputation as a champion of independent and international cinema, under the Screen 2 brand.

The channel has sometimes been judged, increasingly in more recent years, to have moved away from this original role and closer to the mainstream. Since the launch of the digital-only BBC Four, the BBC has been accused in particular of shifting its more highbrow output to the new channel, which, until the end of the UK's digital TV switchover in October 2012, [13] a minority (7.5% in the final quarter of 2010) [14] of viewers did not receive. BBC Four's remit is very similar to the earlier remit of BBC2, and contains many documentaries and arts programmes. It has been perceived by some that this strategy is to allow BBC Two to show more popular programmes and to secure higher ratings. [15] Since 2004 there have been some signs of an attempt to return closer to parts of BBC Two's earlier output with the arts strand The Culture Show. Its most popular programme at the moment is Top Gear, which now moved to BBC One.

Much of BBC Two's output has previously or subsequently been shown on other channels. Some of these programmes are repeats of popular or flagship programmes from BBC Four in a late-night strand, originally called BBC Four on Two but now unbranded, for the benefit of audiences without access to BBC Four. Other programmes are moved to the channel as a result of their success on BBC Three or Four, so that subsequent series are well received. An example of this is the BBC Three series Torchwood, which was transferred to the channel following the success of the first series. BBC Two is also used as a testing ground for programmes prior to their moving to the flagship BBC One: such examples include Have I Got News for You and popular comedies Absolutely Fabulous and Miranda, which moved to BBC One after success on Two. Also in August 2014, The Great British Bake Off moved to BBC One, due to its success the previous year on BBC Two. In 2017, Bake Off moved from BBC One to Channel 4.

Another founding part of BBC Two was to provide educational and community programming on the BBC, as part of its public service remit. The educational section of this commitment saw BBC2 broadcast a large amount of programming for the Open University, who co-produced programming with the corporation, and saw the channel broadcast BBC Schools programmes from 1983 until the programmes were transferred to the BBC Learning Zone in 2010.

As a result of the channel's commitment to community broadcasting, the channel produced the symbolic Open Space series, a strand developed in the early 1970s in which members of the public would be allotted half an hour of television time, and given a level of editorial and technical training in order to produce for themselves a film on an issue most important to them. BBC2's Community Programme Unit kept this aspect of the channel's tradition alive into the 1990s in the form of Video Diaries and later Video Nation. The Community Programmes Unit was disbanded in 2004.

In January 2013, BBC Two ceased to show children's programmes and replaced the weekday morning schedule with repeats of the previous BBC One daytime schedule. It also began showing Sign Zone in the early hours prior to 2013, this had been broadcast by BBC One.

From October 2013, BBC Two has shown classic programmes like Bergerac, Cagney and Lacey, The Rockford Files, 'Allo 'Allo!, and Are You Being Served? on weekday afternoons, with the retro logos from 1970s and 1980s, between the current programmes.

In October 2014, Russell Howard's Good News and Backchat moved to BBC Two from BBC Three.

In 2014, BBC Two commissioned Britain's first transgender sitcom, Boy Meets Girl, which follows the developing relationship between Leo, a 26-year-old man, and Judy, a 40-year-old transgender woman. [16]

From 7 April 2015, the morning Sign Zone was shown before Victoria Derbyshire between 8:00am-9:00 am including See Hear on Wednesday morning.

BBC Two is also known for broadcasting some news and current affairs programmes. It broadcasts BBC News updates every morning at 9 am, simulcasting the BBC News channel after it stops simulcasting BBC Breakfast on BBC1. At 12:15 pm during the Parliament session, political debate programme Politics Live is broadcast on BBC Two. On Wednesdays, due to the Prime Minister's Questions, the programme is broadcast at the earlier time of 11:15am. The programme is not broadcast on Fridays or when Parliament is on a holiday break, so the simulcast of BBC News continues until 1:00pm for the BBC News at One on BBC One. At 10:45pm, current affairs programme Newsnight takes a look at the day's headlines and talks to the people about it. BBC Two doesn't broadcast any news and current affairs programming at the weekend.

From 2017 until 2019, it broadcast the UK selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest, Eurovision: You Decide. The channel stopped broadcasting the show after the 2019 edition due to the fact that the BBC opted for an internal selection in collaboration with BMG Rights Management.

In 2020, it was reported that the programme Victoria Derbyshire would end, owing to the BBC's £80m cuts. [17] Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Victoria Derbyshire has been presenting the first hour of BBC News, which continues until 13:00.

BBC Two is also known for broadcasting some BBC One programmes in a change to the schedules when that channel is broadcasting a BBC News Special. For example during the COVID-19 pandemic, BBC1 aired press conferences from the UK government about big developments from the pandemic and the scheduled BBC One programming during those News Specials was broadcast on BBC Two. However on 9 April 2021 - the day of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh - BBC Two and BBC One both simulcast BBC News for the whole day.

As well as programmes, BBC Two has also proved memorable for its numerous idents—various short sequences shown between programme junctions that serve as the channel identity. Nearly all of the identity packages used since the channel's launch in 1964 have featured a prominent numeral 2 in the design. Notable designs include the electronic double-striped 2, the white TWO ident (the only ident not to use a numeral 2), and most notably the 1991 2s.

The 1991 idents featured a sans-serif numeral 2 at the centre of an initially art-related scene however, the idents moved away from this style as the station's style changed. Although highly praised, this expansive set of idents was ended in November 2001. The BBC corporate logo was updated within the idents in October 1997, though the idents moved away from the original viridian colour scheme in these latter years. The subsequent presentation style was introduced on 19 November 2001 and kept the same figure 2, but in a yellow background and given a personality. At the time, BBC Two became the first BBC channel to feature a box logo.

In 2007, BBC Two debuted the new theme, a "Window on the World", with the 2 numeral providing that view. Introduced on 18 February 2007, the new look also had the channel adopt a teal-coloured box logo, featuring the BBC logo above the word TWO, in the font Avenir.

In 2014, in honour of the channel's 50th anniversary, some of the 1990s idents were re-introduced and from 2015, BBC Two Northern Ireland opted to use nearly forty idents from the 1991–2001 set.

On 27 September 2018, the 1991–2001 idents were retired once again and BBC Two introduced a new set of idents, based on scenes incorporating a curve motif resembling the number 2. The new branding is designed to reflect BBC Two's "constant evolution, constant eclecticism, [and] constant sense of quality". The new idents are produced by various artists and studios, including Aardman Animations, The Mill and others. The new identity was co-developed by BBC Creative and Superunion. [18] [19] [20]

Regional variations Edit

BBC Two also has regional variations in Wales and Northern Ireland. These versions of BBC Two share the same idents, but with the nation name in the BBC Two box. BBC Two Scotland showed a lot of specifically Scottish programming on the channel, as well as its sister channel BBC One Scotland, and the schedules were often mixed around to match. BBC Two Northern Ireland and BBC Two Wales both have the option to opt-out of the main network schedule but generally stick to it, only opting out a couple of times each week. Until December 2008, BBC Wales broadcast a special, digital-only channel, BBC 2W, which contained more opt-outs than analogue-only BBC Two Wales. BBC Two Scotland existed until February 2019 when it was replaced with the national BBC Two feed in preparation for the launch of the BBC Scotland channel.

In England, many of the BBC English regions were combined to form "super-regions", such as the entire North or Midlands. These had the option to opt-out of the network programming on the analogue feed, and replace it with local programming. However this was usually only done in exceptional circumstances, as all regular regional programming has been transferred to BBC One, and the English regions are not available on digital on BBC Two. There is no specific "BBC Two England" this role is fulfilled by the network version of BBC Two.

The Northern Irish version of BBC Two is widely available in the Republic of Ireland on satellite and cable, as well as being received directly in areas bordering Northern Ireland, or in coastal areas from Wales. The networked version of BBC Two is also available on cable and IPTV in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco and Liechtenstein. The channel is registered to broadcast within the European Union/EEA through the Luxembourgish Broadcasting Regulator - ALIA. [21] [22]

On 27 March 2013, it began being carried by British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) to members of HM Forces and their families around the world, replacing the BFBS2 TV channel, which already carried a selection of BBC Two programmes. [23] It shares a channel with CBBC, which broadcasts from early morning until the early evening. [24]

All feeds of BBC Two in both SD and HD are broadcast unencrypted on the Astra 2E and 2G satellites, allowing viewing across Belgium, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland and parts of France, Germany and Spain. [25] [26]

The BBC announced in May 2008 that it had achieved its aim for all programming to have subtitles for viewers with hearing difficulties. [27] [28] These are available on the BBC Red Button, and until 23 October 2012, via the Ceefax teletext service.

The BBC also offers audio description on some popular programmes [29] for visually impaired-viewers as well as sign language interpretation on some of its programmes for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. The percentage of the BBC's total television output with audio description available is 10%, having been increased from 8% in 2008. [30]

Originally, programmes from BBC Two were shown in high definition on the dedicated BBC HD channel, alongside programmes from BBC Three and BBC Four, as well as some select series from CBBC and CBeebies. However, in plans outlined by the director general Mark Thompson on 6 October 2011, BBC HD would close to be replaced by BBC Two HD, a high-definition simulcast of BBC Two that would work much the same way as BBC One HD. [31] This move allowed the corporation to save £2.1 million, used to count towards its budget deficit following the freezing of the licence fee and the additional financial responsibility of addition services. [32]

On 19 February 2013, it was announced that BBC Two HD would replace BBC HD from 6.05 am on 26 March 2013. [33] Channel numbers for the BBC's HD channels also changed on Sky, to allow BBC One HD and BBC Two HD to sit side-by-side on channels 141, and 142 respectively on the EPG. [33] [34]

On 16 July 2013, the BBC indicated that it wants to launch Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh variations of BBC Two HD however, this would require the approval of the BBC Trust, with a proposal due to be presented within six months. [35]

On 10 December 2013, BBC Two HD was swapped with the SD channel in England on Sky's EPG for HD subscribers. [36]

In October 2018, the BBC announced that regional variants of BBC Two HD in Wales and Northern Ireland would launch at the end of November that year on terrestrial, satellite (Wales only) and iPlayer. BBC Two HD in these regions were swapped with the SD channel on Sky's EPG for HD subscribers. Due to the impending launch of the new BBC Scotland channel in February 2019, replacing the opt-outs on BBC Two Scotland, no Scottish HD variant was required.

Timeline: The History of Public Broadcasting in the U.S.

Public broadcasting in the U.S. has grown from local and regional roots at schools and universities into a nationally known source of news and entertainment for millions of listeners and viewers. Our timeline of public broadcasting’s history traces its growth from the earliest radio broadcasts to its days as the home of Big Bird, Frontline and Terry Gross. We hit the landmark events, like the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act, and include lesser-known milestones as well — like the airplane circling over Indiana that broadcast educational TV shows to six states. Dive in and discover how public media became what it is today.

This is a revised and updated version of the timeline that appeared in our book A History of Public Broadcasting , published in 2000. Look for a new version of the book coming in 2022 .

Entries by Karen Everhart, Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens

With the Morrill Act, Congress endows state universities with land grants, creating what some observers believe was a philosophical precedent for public broadcasting and its public funding.

Guglielmo Marconi sends a wireless signal from his family estate in Italy.

Iowa State College’s station 9YI (named WOI since 1922) experiments with broadcasting in Morse code.

The University of Wisconsin begins voice broadcasting with radio station 9XM, forerunner of WHA, under an experimental license.

The federal government issues the first license to an educational institution, Latter-day Saints University in Salt Lake City.

A forerunner of PBS and NPR is formed: the Association of College and University Broadcasting Stations (ACUBS). It later becomes the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York, with NBC, creates the National Advisory Council on Radio in Education (NACRE) to promote a “Cooperation Doctrine” — alliances between commercial radio and educators.

ACUBS asks Congress to reserve channels for education.

ACUBS changes its constitution and renames itself the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.

The FCC establishes a new class of noncommercial educational radio stations in the high-frequency band.

The FCC reserves five of the 40 channels in the new high-frequency band for noncommercial educational stations. Though planned for AM, the stations go to FM as technology develops.

The FCC moves FM service to the VHF band and expands noncommercial FM reservation to 20 channels (88-92 MHz) of the total 100 FM channels.

WNYC begins a “bicycle network,” shipping taped radio programs from station to station.

Pacifica begins operation of KPFA in Berkeley, claimed to be the first listener-supported station.

The FCC allocates local TV channels and reserves 242 for noncommercial educational TV.

The Ford Foundation funds the Educational Television and Radio Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., to distribute programs.

The University of Houston signs on the first noncommercial educational TV station, KUHT.

KQED in San Francisco pioneers the public TV fundraising auction.

Congress passes the National Defense Education Act, which aids numerous instructional TV projects.

Under new president John White, Educational Television and Radio Center adds “National” to its name. It later moves to New York City and becomes National Educational Television, NET.

Taped live with an early videotape machine recently installed at Denver’s KRMA, The Ragtime Era premieres. It becomes NET’s most popular show, adding fun to educational TV’s arts programming and making Max Morath a star.

Eastern Educational Television Network (EEN) incorporates after a 1959 demonstration of a hookup between Boston and Durham, N.H. Founded by WGBH President Hartford Gunn to boost the supply of programs available to stations in the Northeast, it was the first regional public TV network. Julia Child’s The French Chef, produced at WGBH, later becomes one of EEN’s most successful programs. EEN later grows into the national distributor now known as American Public Television.

The Midwest Program for Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) experimentally broadcasts instructional television programs to six states from an airliner circling above Indiana.

The Educational Radio Network achieves regional interconnection to distribute Kaleidoscope, a daily newsmagazine that originates in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Educational TV stations begin airing the BBC’s An Age of Kings, a 15-part combination of Shakespeare’s history plays that becomes one of public TV’s earliest hits.

President Kennedy signs the Educational Television Facilities Act, bringing the first major federal aid to public broadcasting. The act was a predecessor of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

The All-Channel Receiver Act is signed into law, aiding reception of UHF stations, including many educational stations.

New York City finally gets a public TV station, as WNDT, later WNET, signs on.

KRAB-FM, the first of community-radio pioneer Lorenzo Milam’s “Krab Nebula” of stations, signs on in Seattle.

WGBH begins airing Julia Child’s first French Chef series, later distributed nationally.

The FCC authorizes the first statewide educational TV translator network, in Utah.

The FCC allows Instructional Television Fixed Service microwave transmissions for education. Public TV stations were among the educational institutions awarded licenses for the channels, which delivered ITV programs to receivers in public and private schools, colleges and universities.

NAEB’s First Conference on Long-Range Financing proposes a presidential commission on future funding. The idea for a study of educational TV’s financial needs is suggested, which later becomes the Carnegie Commission.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York establishes the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television (Carnegie I).

The Ford Foundation proposes to the FCC that profits from a nonprofit communications satellite system for all broadcasters would go to public broadcasting. The proposed “Bundy Bird,” named after Ford Foundation President McGeorge Bundy, was quashed at the FCC by “bureaucratic torpor” induced by opposition from “all the giant communications companies,” James Day writes in The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television. But media coverage of the “Bundy Bird” called attention to educational TV’s funding needs. The proposal also helped make the case for an interconnection system to transmit programs to stations.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuts on Pittsburgh’s WQED. It premieres nationally on NET Feb. 19, 1968.

Carnegie I releases a report proposing federal aid and an extension of educational TV called “public television.”

WETA premieres Washington Week in Review. It goes national on PBS in 1969.

An NAEB report, The Hidden Medium, promotes aid to educational radio as well. Though the Carnegie report and original legislation would have aided only TV, the final Senate bill creating CPB also includes radio, thanks to a concerted campaign by Jerold Sandler and other radio advocates.

The Ford Foundation launches Public Broadcast Laboratory, a live Sunday-night magazine program. (CBS starts 60 Minutes a year later.)

President Johnson signs the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, authorizing federal operating aid to stations through a new agency, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB funding decisions would be made year to year Congress wouldn’t consider endowing a long-term funding source.

CPB incorporates. Its first president, John W. Macy, signs on in January 1969.

Newsroom, a daily local news program that KQED in San Francisco launched as Newspaper of the Air during a newspaper strike, returns with funding from the Ford Foundation. Staffed by a team of print-trained reporters and anchor Mel Wax, the show pioneered the roundtable format of journalists discussing news of the day. Newsroom won duPont-Columbia and Peabody Awards during its nine-year run, but KQED couldn’t sustain it when Ford’s grant ended.

NET begins regular interconnection for educational TV the BBC drama The Forsyte Saga is a hit.

CPB begins general support grants to stations, later called Community Service Grants.

Fred Rogers makes a successful appeal for CPB’s first appropriation with a moving plea to Sen. John Pastore (D-R.I), who says afterwards, “Looks like you just earned $20 million.” Hartford Gunn accompanies Rogers at the witness table.

The Public Broadcasting Service is incorporated.

Sesame Street debuts. The show’s creator, Children’s Television Workshop, developed Sesame with new levels of collaboration among writers, producers and researchers, and extensive testing on young viewers to determine how effectively the program achieved its educational goals. An instant success, Sesame Street goes on to win two Peabody Awards, dozens of Emmys and many other honors.

The PBS Board chooses Hartford Gunn as the network’s first president.

NPR incorporates. Don Quayle is to become its first president.

NET and WNDT merge, creating WNET.

PBS carries NET’s Banks and the Poor by Morton Silverstein, generating controversy.

WGBH’s Masterpiece Theatre debuts with “The First Churchills,” a BBC drama about the 17th-century forebears of Winston Churchill.

WNET debuts The Great American Dream Machine, a groundbreaking variety TV show featuring contributions from Kurt Vonnegut, Albert Brooks, Studs Terkel and others.

NPR begins service with a live broadcast of Senate hearings on ending the Vietnam War.

NPR launches All Things Considered with a 24-minute sound portrait of protests against the Vietnam War that took place that day in Washington, D.C. Robert Conley hosts the program. In 2017, the broadcast was inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

CPB announces the creation of the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) as a headquarters for public affairs programs covering the nation’s capital. Sander Vanocur, an experienced NBC journalist, is hired to co-anchor programs with Robert MacNeil, a Canadian broadcast journalist and international correspondent. In his book The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television, James Day writes that the hiring of Vanocur and MacNeil enraged President Nixon, who was nursing a grudge over Vanocur’s aggressive questioning during his 1960 presidential campaign.

Nixon aide Clay Whitehead challenges public TV in a speech at an NAEB meeting. Criticizing local broadcasters for betraying the vision of the Carnegie Commission, he assails decisions to create PBS and NPACT as moves to centralize program decisions and turn over control of public-affairs programming to the Ford Foundation.

President Nixon vetoes a two-year CPB authorizing law a reduced one-year bill is enacted later. John Macy resigns as CPB president over the board’s refusal to protest the veto. Macy is succeeded by Henry Loomis. Frank Pace, CPB’s first chairman, also quits, succeeded by Tom Curtis.

To shield program funding decisions from political interference following Nixon’s veto of CPB’s authorization, PBS President Hartford Gunn proposes the Station Program Cooperative, a marketplace for stations to choose which national programs they would support. PBS manages the SPC until 1989.

PBS airs WNET’s first Great Performances with a production of The Rimers of Eldritch, a Lanford Wilson play featuring the up-and-coming actress Susan Sarandon.

WNET airs verité documentary series An American Family.

Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer team up on NPACT’s coverage of Senate Watergate hearings.

Public radio stations form the Association of Public Radio Stations to lobby for their interests.

CPB and PBS resolve a dispute over interconnection and program decision-making with the Partnership Agreement, which allows PBS to manage program feeds and requires CPB to consult with PBS on programs it proposes to fund.

With Texas businessman Ralph Rogers as chair, PBS reorganizes its governance by adding a board of lay leaders — prominent citizens usually involved with their local stations — to balance the oversight of a station manager board. The change solidifies PBS leadership as it cuts parental ties with CPB.

A Prairie Home Companion debuts at the Janet Wallace Auditorium at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Hosted by Garrison Keillor, the show charges $1 admission, 50 cents for kids. “There were about 12 people in the audience,” according to the show’s website.

KERA in Dallas begins airing a discontinued British comedy series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. WNET soon follows, and in October 10 additional stations license the offbeat show from distributor EEN.

NPR expands All Things Considered to the weekend with Mike Waters as host.

PBS launches the first national pledge drive, Festival 75.

Terry Gross becomes host of Fresh Air, a talk show airing on WHYY-FM in Philadelphia.

The National Federation of Community Broadcasters incorporates.

WNET starts The Robert MacNeil Report, in 1976 renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report.

President Ford signs a five-year funding act anticipating a new feature: advance appropriations. In 1976, Congress follows up with appropriations through fiscal 1979.

The Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium is formed to support Native programming for public broadcasting, making it the first of the system’s five minority consortia to incorporate. In 1995 it changes its name to Native American Public Telecommunications in 2013, it becomes Vision Maker Media.

NPR takes on public radio’s lobbying functions, merging with APRS.

Frank Mankiewicz begins work as NPR president. The son of Herman Mankiewicz, a co-author of the screenplay for Citizen Kane, Frank Mankiewicz had worked for the Peace Corps under President Kennedy’s Administration and for Sen. Robert Kennedy. He also helped run George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign and wrote two books about Watergate before joining NPR.

Public TV’s satellite interconnection begins operation.

The Supreme Court upholds an FCC indecency ruling against an afternoon broadcast of George Carlin’s “filthy words” routine on Pacifica’s WBAI in 1973.

In a reorganization that further separates PBS’ role in national programming from stations’ interests in federal policy in Washington, public TV splits lobbying functions from PBS to create the National Association of Public Television Stations, later renamed America’s Public Television Stations. David Carley is its first president.

The Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting releases a report calling for a fundamental restructuring of what it sees as a flawed system. It proposes a Public Telecommunications Trust to supplant CPB and a semi-autonomous Program Services Endowment to invest in programming. The Commission also calls for more federal funding to public broadcasting from general tax revenues and a spectrum fee levied on all users of the public airwaves. Neither Congress nor the Carter administration picks up on the recommendations.

In response to the Carnegie report, CPB President Robben Fleming proposes to create an insulated program fund within the corporation to be headed by a director who will make final decisions about the programs CPB supports. The board approves, and the plan for the CPB Television Program Fund takes effect in January 1980.

NPR launches Morning Edition with Bob Edwards and Barbara Hoctor as co-hosts. Edwards becomes the sole host in April 1980.

Closed captioning, developed by PBS, premieres on three networks, including PBS (Masterpiece Theatre).

NAEB launches a trade newspaper, Current. [Read a timeline of Current’s history.]

Minnesota Public Radio begins national feeds of A Prairie Home Companion.

“Death of a Princess” airs nationally on PBS. The docudrama about a 19-year-old Saudi princess executed for adultery in 1977 is broadcast as part of World, a WGBH-produced documentary series that was the forerunner to Frontline. In the weeks leading up to its U.S. premiere, the Saudi government pressured PBS through the U.S. State Department and Congress to drop the film. Mobil Oil, a major corporate underwriter of Masterpiece Theater on PBS and a partner in the Arab-American oil venture Aramco, criticized the film in newspaper ads. Some stations — including KUHT in Houston, Alabama Public Television and South Carolina ETV — choose not to air it.

NPR completes the first national satellite network for radio.

Asian-American activists from around the country gather in Berkeley, Calif., to discuss creating an organization to bring their community’s voices to public media. A steering committee is formed on the last day of the conference that becomes the board of the National Asian American Telecommunications Association, founded later in the year. NAATA changes its name to the Center for Asian American Media in 2005.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, a groundbreaking science series from KCET, debuts.

President Reagan seeks a cut of $88 million to CPB funding and achieves a $35 million cut in fiscal year 1983.

The weeknight newscast Nightly Business Report debuts nationally on public television, produced by WPBT in Miami. The half-hour show goes on to be television’s longest-running business news broadcast. CNBC took over production of the show in 2013 and announced in 2019 that it would stop producing the show at the end of the year.

The membership of NAEB votes to dissolve the bankrupt association.

WNET lets Nature loose on PBS.

A station consortium raises the curtain on American Playhouse.

WGBH and a consortium of public TV stations launch Frontline.

Thomas C. Warnock, executive VP of NPR, reports to President Frank Mankiewicz that the network faces a potential deficit of $3.3 million due to overspending and a failure to achieve revenue goals. In following weeks, the estimate is revised to $5.8 million.

American Public Radio incorporates. It changes its name to Public Radio International in 1994.

NPR President Frank Mankiewicz steps down from his management role as word spreads about the financial crisis at the network [GAO summary, 1984] he resigns May 10. An interim management team takes steps to bring operations under control, with Ron Bornstein filling in as CEO. The network lays off 84 employees, cuts newscasts and drops Sunday Show, a weekly program of arts and music.

CPB agrees to loan NPR $7 million to aid its recovery from the budget crisis.

The first hourlong nightly news program debuts: MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

Vietnam: A Television History, a 13-part documentary series produced by WGBH, debuts on PBS. Nearly 9 percent of all TV households tuned into the premiere episode, and an average of 9.7 million Americans watched all programs in the series, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

The Christian Science Monitor launches Monitor Radio, beginning with a weekend broadcast. It is later expanded to a daily afternoon program in 1985 and an early-morning show in 1989.

The FCC loosens sponsorship rules to allow “enhanced underwriting.” The revised regulations follow up on recommendations from the commission’s Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing, authorized by the Public Broadcasting Amendments Act of 1981. Under the new rules, sponsorship announcements can include logos and slogans that identify but do not promote or compare locations, value-neutral descriptions of a product line or service, trade names, and product or service listings. But the regulations uphold prohibitions on interrupting programs for underwriting spots or fundraising activities “on behalf of any entity other than itself.”

The Supreme Court overturns a law prohibiting editorials on CPB-assisted stations, acting in a case brought by Pacifica and others.

Chicago’s WTTW becomes the first station to air TV stereo sound full-time.

In a meeting at the Wingspread conference center in Racine, Wis., a group of lay trustees and professional station managers develop a statement of editorial integrity for independence from state governments. The boards of PBS and the National Association of Public Television Stations later endorses the statement.

CPB begins aid to the Public Television Outreach Alliance, a station-led effort to create programs and outreach materials that deal with “pressing social issues of interest to many or all segments of American society,” according to CPB’s annual report. Kentucky Educational Television led the alliance with KCTS in Seattle, WQED in Pittsburgh, Nebraska’s NET and WETA in Washington, D.C. In 1986, the alliance mounted “Generation at Risk,” a follow-up campaign to The Chemical People, a 1983 limited series about drug and alcohol abuse.

Public radio stations approve an NPR business plan: They receive the funds that CPB previously sent directly to NPR.

A CPB-funded study led by researcher David Giovannoni reveals that almost 90 percent of public radio listeners don’t contribute direct financial support to stations. The study, nicknamed “Cheap 90,” found that listeners’ perceptions of the importance of public radio in their lives was key to differentiating those who donated from those who didn’t. Current begins publishing “Radio Intelligence,” Giovannoni’s regular column on audience research, in January 1987.

Public broadcasting revenues pass $1 billion by the end of fiscal year 1985, according to CPB.

NPR debuts Weekend Edition on Saturdays with host Scott Simon.

CPB establishes the Radio Program Fund, designed to provide large grants to radio shows with national potential. Fresh Air, a WHYY show hosted by Terry Gross, is among its first beneficiaries. The fund provided $875,000 to support its national launch.

WGBH introduces a Descriptive Video Service for vision-impaired viewers.

Susan Stamberg, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered since 1971, leaves the show.

NPR makes its final payment on its $7 million debt.

Bill Moyers, who departed public TV in 1981 to join CBS News, announces his return to PBS by unveiling a $10 million slate of nonfiction programs.

NPR launches Weekend Edition Sunday with Susan Stamberg as host. The broadcast also marks the debut of auto mechanics Tom and Ray Magliozzi on public radio’s national airwaves. Car Talk makes its national debut Oct. 3.

Henry Hampton’s Eyes on the Prize, a landmark six-part documentary series about the U.S. civil-rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s, premieres on PBS. Producers at Hampton’s Blackside Inc., were already working on a second package of documentaries, Eyes on the Prize: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985, which premiered in 1990.

Garrison Keillor hosts his last Prairie Home Companion before a temporary departure from public radio.

WGBH launches The American Experience.

Latino Public Broadcasting, one of public broadcasting’s minority consortia, is formed. Its co-founders are actor and director Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer, co-founder and executive director of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

CPB publishes the final installment of Audience 88 , a landmark study that provides a detailed portrait of public radio listenership and introduces a research-based vocabulary for making decisions about what programs to air. Directed by consultant David Giovannoni, the research’s message that “programming causes audience” aids public radio in significantly growing listenership and donor support in coming years. Giovannoni shares CPB’s 1994 Edward R. Murrow Award with Tom Church, founder of the Radio Research Consortium, in recognition of their work. Audience 98 , a follow-up study examining the attitudes that motivate listeners to give, is completed in 1999.

Pacific Public Radio (KLON) and American Public Radio launch Marketplace, a West Coast–based look at business and economic news. Michael Creedman is host. KUSC becomes co-producer more than a year later, replacing Pacific.

Garrison Keillor returns to public radio with American Radio Company of the Air.

The Independent Television Service, a program service to aid independent producers, is incorporated. In 1988, Congress passed legislation requiring CPB to establish an independent program service “to expand the diversity and innovativeness of programming available to public broadcasting.” ITVS begins operation in June 1991.

In a restructuring of public TV’s funding and decision-making about national programs, PBS names Jennifer Lawson as its first chief programming executive. CPB adds $23 million to her budget. With her appointment, PBS implements its 1988 plan to end the Station Program Cooperative, created in PBS’s early years to let stations decide which national programs to fund. Lawson pledges to refresh PBS’ National Program Service, focusing first on children’s programming.

PBS launches PBS Home Video.

Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti appear in the first of a series of hit “Three Tenors” concerts, syndicated to public TV stations by EEN.

Ken Burns’ The Civil War breaks PBS audience records.

“Tongues Untied,” a POV documentary about black gay identity, wins applause and alarms stations with its explicit language and sexual imagery. Don Wildmon of the conservative religious American Family Association criticizes the use of public funds to produce the film.

Pacific Islanders in Communications is founded in Honolulu. The nonprofit organization works to “support, advance and develop Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture and contemporary challenges.”

Congress requires digital broadcast satellite operators to set aside capacity for noncom educational use.

EEN Interregional Program Service adopts the new name American Program Service. In 1999, APS will become American Public Television.

President Bush signs a CPB reauthorization act with a Senate amendment requiring CPB to monitor “objectivity and balance” in programming.

Congress authorizes the Ready to Learn Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), supporting production and distribution of educational programs for preschool and elementary-school children. The Department of Education, which oversees the grant program, is authorized to contract with public broadcasters to create a “Ready to Learn channel” on the public TV satellite.

The CPB Board approves President Richard Carlson’s plan to monitor balance and objectivity in programming, a mandate of CPB’s 1992 reauthorization.

California-based Radio Bilingüe starts a Satélite radio service for Latino public radio stations.

NPR moves into its new headquarters at 635 Massachusetts Avenue.

APR becomes Public Radio International.

PBS launches a pilot of its Ready to Learn Service for preschoolers.

The American Indian Radio on Satellite (AIROS) network begins operations, serving stations on reservations.

After Republicans win a majority in the House, new Speaker Newt Gingrich says he wants to “privatize” cultural institutions — including CPB, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Newt Gingrich announces that he plans to zero out CPB funding.

A House and Senate conference committee agree on a budget-cutting bill that reduces CPB’s advance-funded appropriations for fiscal years 1996 and 1997 to $275 million and $260 million, respectively. The rescissions trim 12 percent and 17 percent from amounts Congress had appropriated previously under the normal two-year forward funding process. CPB funding for 1998, to be set in the annual appropriations process, is yet to be determined.

The House votes against an amendment by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) to zero out CPB’s fiscal 1998 appropriation of $240 million. After the Senate concludes its appropriations process, the appropriation is set at $250 million.

PBS launches its website, PBS Online.

The Markle Foundation backs a proposal by former PBS President Lawrence Grossman for two nights of ad-supported weekend programming on public TV. The idea goes public in June 1997 but falters.

Your Radio Playhouse, a forerunner of This American Life, debuts on WBEZ in Chicago. The name changes to TAL in April 1996. Public Radio International begins national distribution of TAL in July 1997, with the show already airing on more than 100 stations.

The CPB Board adds radio station audience and fundraising criteria for grant eligibility, effective October 1998.

Rep. Jack Fields introduces a trust-fund bill, but it doesn’t advance.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholds the set-aside of digital broadcast satellite capacity for noncommercial programming.

A group of public TV stations pledges not to air 30-second spots others already have them on the air.

The FCC sets a 2003 deadline for public TV stations to begin DTV simulcasting.

The Christian Science Monitor closes its radio broadcasting arm, ending the 13-year run of Monitor Radio news programs.

Public broadcasting’s total revenues pass $2 billion by the end of fiscal year 1997.

The presidents of NPR and Public Radio International propose a merger their boards say no.

Minnesota Public Radio expands its endowment by selling its mail-order subsidiary Rivertown Trading for $120 million.

In Forbes v. Arkansas ETV, the Supreme Court rules that Arkansas’ state public broadcasting network has journalistic discretion to exclude a minor candidate in on-air debate, overturning an Eighth Circuit decision of August 1996.

Seven public TV stations are among the first DTV broadcasters PBS premieres Chihuly Over Venice, the first national broadcast of a program produced and edited in HDTV. The stations air a first test broadcast of “enhanced” (interactive) DTV, adapting Ken Burns’ Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Gore Commission, formed to study the public-interest obligations of digital television broadcasters, recommends an additional digital TV station in every market for noncommercial educational purposes. It also backs a trust fund for public broadcasting. The White House, Congress and the FCC take no action.

Former PBS Home Video distributor and Monkee Michael Nesmith wins a $47 million civil judgment against the network. (In July, PBS settles with Nesmith for an undisclosed amount.)

House leaders erupt as Washington hears about mailing-list deals between WGBH and the Democratic National Committee. CPB releases new rules regarding mailing lists July 30.

PBS begins transmitting a PBS Kids service for DBS and DTV multicasting.

FCC establishes a new class of noncommercial low-power FM licenses reserved for nonprofit organizations.

NPR’s first ombudsman begins work: Jeffrey Dvorkin, the network’s former VP for news and information.

PBS hires Pat Mitchell, a CNN documentaries executive, as its first woman president. She is also the first producer to hold the job.

Minnesota Public Radio expands into California — buying Marketplace Productions in Los Angeles — soon after taking on management of KPCC-FM in Pasadena.

Six years after the collapse of American Playhouse, U.S. drama returns to PBS with occasional programs on Masterpiece Theatre, with other new dramatic series planned.

NPR and other broadcasters lead a successful campaign to limit interference by restricting the number of LPFM stations that can be licensed.

PBS lays off 60 employees, the first in a series of workforce reductions that will shrink its staff by more than a quarter — from 623 to 456 — from fiscal year 2001 to FY2007.

The FCC rules that public TV stations can use a minority of their digital transmission capacity for revenue-producing services.

Channel proliferation shaves viewers from public TV’s average weekly cumulative audience. For the 2001-02 season, its full-day cume slips below 50 percent after hovering between 50 and 60 percent for many years.

NPR launches The Tavis Smiley Show, a weekday morning show developed for public radio stations with large African-American audiences. Smiley quits two years later in a dispute with NPR and later returns to public radio with a weekly show for Public Radio International.

The weekly PBS news program Now, created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, debuts with Bill Moyers hosting.

A central figure in public radio’s rise, 19-year CPB official Rick Madden, dies at age 56. The public radio system had honored him with CPB’s Murrow award in 2001.

NPR opens a West Coast production facility in Culver City, Calif. It becomes home for the new show Day to Day in 2003 and a co-host of Morning Edition in 2004.

PBS’s biggest underwriter, ExxonMobil, announces it will stop funding Masterpiece Theatre in spring 2004.

In the largest efficiency-driven combination yet fostered by CPB, the New York City area’s WNET and WLIW merge.

Relenting under pressure from the recession, the PBS Board lets the network’s biggest underwriters buy 30-second spots.

After consultants McKinsey and Co. deliver a study of public TV’s future, CPB says it will focus on projects to improve stations’ major-gift fundraising programs. A major-giving training initiative for public TV stations launches in 2004, and CPB backs a similar effort for public radio stations in 2007.

More than half of public TV stations miss the FCC’s deadline for putting digital signals on air the commission promises waivers.

The Public Radio Exchange (now PRX), a market for independent radio productions first proposed by independent producer Jay Allison in 2001, begins operations under the auspices of the Station Resource Group.

Software developer Dave Winer expands RSS web syndication technology to enable attachment of audio files. The first use of this new version of RSS is to distribute interviews recorded by Christopher Lydon, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a former host on Boston’s WBUR. Winer’s innovation paves the way for podcasting. Lydon later returns to radio with Open Source, a show building on his experiments merging radio and the internet.

A California judge approves new Pacifica Foundation bylaws that adopt a democratic governance system.

StoryCorps, developed by independent public radio producer David Isay, installs its first recording booth for what becomes a growing, nationwide oral-history project.

NPR announces that McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc, who died Oct. 12, had left the network more than $200 million.

The first PBS-commissioned Roper poll finds that the public ranks PBS among the most trustworthy national institutions and believes that it delivers “excellent value” for their tax dollars.

NPR removes Bob Edwards as Morning Edition anchor, provoking listener outcry. Edwards takes a job at XM Satellite Radio in July.

The General Accounting Office advises Congress that CPB did not have the congressional authority to spend funds from its TV Future Fund, a pool of R&D money. Anticipating the ruling, CPB had already discontinued the TV fund in January. It later ended a comparable Radio Future Fund.

Minnesota Public Radio splits with its offspring, Public Radio International, to distribute its national programming under the name American Public Media.

PBS announces a pact with Comcast, Sesame Workshop and Hit Entertainment to create a new PBS Kids channel available only to digital cable subscribers.

Margaret Spellings, the new U.S. Secretary of Education, writes to PBS with “very serious concerns” about an episode of the children’s show Postcards from Buster, an animated spinoff of Arthur. The episode in question featured its animated rabbit protagonist meeting a family with two mommies. PBS withdraws the episode, but stations covering half the country air it anyway.

The Association of Public Television Stations and the cable industry announce that major cable operators have agreed to carry as many as four multicast program streams from each public TV station in a market. Stations ratify the agreement April 14.

CPB appoints two journalists as ombudsmen, one of a series of decisions made by Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, who had privately embarked on a campaign to bring more conservative voices to PBS public affairs programming.

CPB announces it will replace Kathleen Cox, who had clashed with Chairman Ken Tomlinson in her 10 months as president.

The New York Times breaks the story of CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson’s campaign to influence PBS program decisions.

The House of Representatives votes 2 to 1 to restore cuts in CPB aid approved by its Appropriations Committee. Later the same day, the CPB Board elects Patricia Harrison as president. Major public broadcasting groups opposed the appointment because Harrison had been co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

PBS’s first ombudsman begins work: Michael Getler, a former Washington Post writer, editor and ombudsman.

CPB’s Inspector General finds that CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson violated the Public Broadcasting Act and CPB guidelines, meddling in program decisions and injecting politics into hiring. Tomlinson had resigned days earlier after the CPB Board heard the inspector general’s preliminary report.

Congress sets Feb. 17, 2009, as the shut-off date for analog TV. The act also sets Jan. 28, 2008, as the deadline for the FCC to auction TV spectrum freed by the transition but does not address public TV’s long-held cause to set aside auction proceeds for a trust fund.

Create, a multicast channel featuring how-to and lifestyle programming, begins national distribution through APT with carriage on 174 public TV stations covering nearly 63 percent of the country. World, a multicast channel with a nonfiction public-affairs focus, goes national in August 2007 .

PBS hires WNET executive Paula Kerger to succeed Pat Mitchell as president.

Robert Altman’s adaptation of A Prairie Home Companion, featuring Garrison Keillor and Hollywood stars Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline and Tommy Lee Jones, debuts in the U.S. during the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas.

Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media begins piloting use of its Public Insight Journalism network in other newsrooms.

In a pilot with Google Video and Open Media Network, PBS begins selling $1.99 downloads of its primetime and children’s shows, including Nova, Antiques Roadshow and Arthur.

Iowa Public Radio, a statewide network created through the merger of three university-owned stations, launches its news/talk service on 10 stations. It introduces a statewide classical music service in September.

Vme, a Spanish-language multicast channel, launches on public TV stations in 16 markets. The PBS-styled variety service mixes educational children’s programs and general-audience fare, including how-tos, movies, current affairs programs and a telenovela teaching financial literacy.

Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus object to PBS’s response to complaints about the omission of Hispanic and Native American veterans in Ken Burns’ documentary series on World War II.

The Public Radio Satellite System completes its years-long move to the digital ContentDepot distribution system. NPR had begun building the system in 2002.

State-funded public broadcasters take deep cuts to their annual subsidies as state governments respond to the economic downturn. Among the hardest hit is Kentucky Educational Television, which lost $1.8 million in tax-based funding and reduced its staff by 18 percent.

NPR acquires Public Interactive, which provided specialized web publishing systems and tools to 170 public broadcasting stations, from Public Radio International.

NPR chooses Vivian Schiller, GM of NYTimes.com, as its next chief executive and first female president.

Stations and national producers including NPR, APM and WGBH lay off employees and cancel programs in response to funding losses triggered by the recession. Public broadcasters in Pennsylvania and Maine cite reduced government funding, while others point to sharp declines in membership and underwriting. NPR cuts its workforce by 7 percent and cancels two shows, Day to Day and News & Notes.

Congress postpones the date of shutting off analog TV signals.

NPR stages its first Tiny Desk Concert with Oregon folksinger Laura Gibson.

Reading Rainbow, a children’s literacy series starring LeVar Burton and widely used in classrooms, ends its PBS run when broadcast rights expire.

A report by The Knight Commission on the “Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy” calls for public broadcasting to do more to “move quickly toward a broader vision of public service media, one that is more local, more inclusive and more interactive.” The blue-ribbon panel also recommends a modest increase in public funding to support a more robust and public media system, along with policy changes for broadband access, media education and government transparency.

Congress allocates $25 million in “fiscal stabilization” funding to public broadcasting in a federal budget that also commits to increase CPB’s annual appropriation over three years. CPB received $420 million in fiscal 2010, as well as funds to support digital conversion ($36 million), public radio interconnection ($25 million) and Ready to Learn ($27.3 million.)

CPB invests $10.5 million to build newsgathering capacity at stations through Local Journalism Centers, news units that produce multimedia coverage. Organized as collaborations among multiple stations, the centers cover topics of special interest within their regions.

Bill Moyers delivers the last edition of Bill Moyers’ Journal, one of the anchors of PBS’s Friday-night public affairs block. His retirement doesn’t last long: In January 2012, Moyers returns with a weekly public affairs show, Moyers & Company.

KCET notifies PBS that it will drop its membership Dec. 31, giving up its status as the flagship station in Los Angeles. KOCE in Huntington Beach, Calif., agrees to become the primary station for the region.

NPR fires news analyst Juan Williams over his remarks during an appearance on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. He acknowledged feeling worried about being on an airplane with people wearing “Muslim garb,” a statement that NPR said violated its ethics standards. The firing sparks a partisan attack on public broadcasting fueled by O’Reilly and prominent Republicans. Ellen Weiss, the senior news VP who fired Williams, resigns in January after a law firm that investigated the dismissal reports to NPR’s board.

A coalition of public media advocates unveils “170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting,” a campaign to defend public broadcasting from federal funding cuts. APTS and American Public Media co-sponsor and co-manage the campaign.

President Obama signs the Local Community Radio Act. Approved in the last days of the 111th Congress, the law clears the way for expansion of low-power FM stations by giving the FCC more flexibility to assign channels and resolve interference problems with full-power FMs and their translators.

Downton Abbey, a British drama chronicling the social turmoil that World War I triggered for Britain’s landed gentry, debuts on PBS’ Masterpiece. With storylines centered on Lord Grantham, his American wife and three daughters, the seven-episode serial also features downstairs dramas among servants who run the vast estate. The debut season won an Emmy. The show became a break-out hit for PBS with the debut of the second season in January 2012.

Conservative activist James O’Keefe releases a secretly recorded video of NPR Senior VP of Development Ron Schiller and a member of Schiller’s staff. The video shows Schiller meeting with two men working for O’Keefe, who posed as prospective NPR donors representing a Muslim organization. Recorded at a Washington, D.C., restaurant in February, it features Schiller describing Tea Party members as “racist, racist people” and discussing the “anti-intellectual mood” of the Republican Party. NPR fires Schiller, and NPR President Vivian Schiller (no relation) resigns the next day.

In negotiations over a continuing resolution to fund the government, Congress agrees to eliminate the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program. The $20 million Department of Commerce program, which had long been targeted for elimination before the Obama administration took up the cause of shutting it down, provided matching grants to support signal expansion, replacement of old equipment and digital conversion of public TV and radio stations.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announces the new operators of the stations that make up the state-owned New Jersey Network, which he is moving to dismantle. WNET in New York City secures a five-year management contract to operate NJN’s four full-power TV stations. New York’s WNYC acquires four radio frequencies Philadelphia’s WHYY buys five FMs.

CPB begins investing in joint master control operations for public TV stations with a $6.6 million grant funding startup of a centralcasting facility at WCNY in Syracuse, N.Y. A second facility at WJCT in Jacksonville, Fla., created with participation from seven stations in Florida and Georgia, receives $7 million in startup funding in March 2012.

Viewership of the Season 2 finale of Downton Abbey scores a 3.5 average household rating. The show becomes the highest-rated PBS prime-time program since the September 2009 premiere of Ken Burns’s documentary series National Parks.

WGBH in Boston acquires Public Radio International, the Minneapolis-based distributor and co-producer of national news programs PRI’s The World, which originates from WGBH, and The Takeaway, headquartered at WNYC in New York City.

CPB announces a two-year, $1.5 million grant to support Code Switch, a new six-person NPR team creating multimedia reporting about issues of race, ethnicity and culture.

The declining health of Car Talk co-host Tom Magliozzi prompts producers of the show to stop taping new episodes. Car Talk ends production of original shows but continues distributing Best of Car Talk, a weekly compilation of archival material. Magliozzi dies in 2014 at the age of 77 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

In a televised presidential debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney reiterates his campaign pledge to eliminate federal funding for public broadcasting. Responding to a question about the federal debt, he tells debate moderator Jim Lehrer, executive editor of PBS NewsHour: “I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. … I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

The boards of KCET in Los Angeles and Link TV, a San Francisco-based satellite channel that shares KCET’s focus on serving nontraditional public TV audiences, approve a merger to take place Jan. 1, 2013.

Roku unveils the first collection of PBS programs to be offered on a streaming video-on-demand platform. Viewers can choose from a limited number of prime-time series such as Antiques Roadshow, Nova and Masterpiece.

Talk of the Nation, a midday NPR talk show that launched in 1992, broadcasts its last episode. NPR replaces it with an expanded version of Here & Now, produced by WBUR in Boston.

PBS Warning Alert and Response Network connects to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s alert system, providing backup for delivering emergency messages to mobile devices.

PBS NewsHour Weekend, a 30-minute broadcast produced at WNET in New York City and hosted by Hari Sreenivasan, debuts. PBS backed the show to fill holes in its news lineup. Meanwhile, at PBS NewsHour, co-managing editors Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill become the first female co-anchor team on a network news broadcast.

Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, co-founders and former anchors of PBS NewsHour, announce plans to transfer the weeknight program to presenting station and partner WETA in Washington, D.C. The station assumes ownership July 1, 2014.

PBS sells its 15 percent equity share in Sprout, a kids’ cable network previously branded PBS Kids Sprout, to NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a ban on political and public-issue commercials on public TV stations. Minority Television Project, licensee of KMTP in San Mateo, Calif., is a key party in the case, stemming from fines imposed by the FCC in 2003. NPR and PBS had filed an amicus brief urging the court to uphold the ban.

Jarl Mohn, a philanthropist and investor who built his fortune in commercial television, signs on as NPR president. At the time of his appointment, he was board chair for KPCC in Pasadena, Calif.

NPR One, an app that uses an algorithm and user feedback to generate an audio stream of news content from NPR and stations, launches in Apple and Android app stores.

NPR ends production of Tell Me More, a weekdaily program hosted by Michel Martin and focusing on news topics related to people of color. The show aired on 136 stations at the time of its cancellation.

The podcast Serial debuts. A production of This American Life, the 12-episode series about the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high-school student reaches record numbers of downloads and renews interest in the medium of podcasting.

PBS unveils a plan to invest in promotion and social-media marketing of its independent film series POV and Independent Lens, resolving a months-long conflict over primetime scheduling of the programs. Filmmakers had pressed PBS to designate the series for common carriage.

Sesame Workshop enters a five-year contract with HBO to produce and premiere new episodes of Sesame Street on the premium cable channel. After a nine-month window of exclusivity, PBS and its stations will broadcast episodes. The program deal also adopts a shorter, 30-minute format for Sesame Street that PBS introduced on a trial basis in fall 2014.

PBS begins national rollout of Passport, its member video-on-demand service.

Musician Chris Thile marks his debut as Garrison Keillor’s hand-picked successor to host of A Prairie Home Companion.

Gwen Ifill, a political journalist who helmed two of PBS’s signature public-affairs series, dies of cancer at age 61. Ifill simultaneously served with Judy Woodruff as co-managing editor and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour and helmed Washington Week as managing editor and moderator. In 2004, early in her tenure on PBS, Ifill became the first black woman to moderate a vice-presidential debate.

Diane Rehm hosts the last broadcast of her eponymous midday talk show, winding down a radio career that she started as a volunteer at WAMU in Washington, D.C., in 1973.

PBS Kids, a multicast channel and streaming service delivering 24 hours of daily educational children’s programming, launches on 73 public TV stations.

Public TV reaps at least $1.9 billion in the FCC’s television spectrum auction. Most public broadcasters earn millions through channel-sharing deals or moves to low-VHF channels, but eight agree to sell all of their spectrum and go off the air.

The flood of revelations about sexual harassment in the media world engulfs public media as NPR puts Senior VP of News Michael Oreskes on leave . A Washington Post article published the same day details accusations against Oreskes of incidents of sexual harassment that occurred in the 1990s. The same day, NPR Media Correspondent David Folkenflik reports on a complaint filed by an NPR producer about an incident involving Oreskes in October 2015. Oreskes resigns the next day . Chief news editor David Sweeney also leaves NPR later in November following an investigation of sexual harassment complaints by two employees. The Washington Post publishes an exposé Nov. 20 about multiple accounts of inappropriate behavior by PBS host Charlie Rose the network drops Rose’s show the next day . Citing “inappropriate behavior,” Minnesota Public Radio cuts ties with former Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor Nov. 29. A Dec. 1 article published by New York magazine reveals multiple accounts of harassment involving John Hockenberry , former host of WNYC’s The Takeaway. And PBS and Public Radio International drop shows hosted by Tavis Smiley in December after an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

With fallout from the #MeToo movement continuing to roil public media, NPR confirms Feb. 6 that Daniel Zwerdling has left the network as Current prepares to break news of harassment complaints against the longtime investigative reporter by NPR employees. An outside review of NPR’s handling of harassment allegations, delivered to NPR’s board Feb. 14 , reveals that leaders at the network were told of concerns about former news VP Michael Oreskes’ behavior before hiring him.

Longtime NPR newscaster Carl Kasell, who enjoyed a second act as official scorekeeper for the comedy show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, dies at 84.



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Eighty years ago the BBC made its first live broadcast - and the world changed for ever

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John Logie Baird&rsquos came up with the first working television

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But none of these comes close in terms of future significance to something that lasted only an hour and was watched by just a few hundred people.

That November the BBC launched its television service.

It was a breathtaking moment, nerve-racking too and not universally welcomed. The technology was in its infancy.

As late as 1928 Guglielmo Marconi, Nobel prize-winning inventor of radio, had said he could not predict when there would be television.

Related articles

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said he did not foresee it working in the near future.

Numerous boffins in Europe and the US had been striving for years towards the holy grail of transmissible moving pictures.

In 1925 Gordon Selfridge Junior (son of the original &ldquoMr Selfridge&rdquo) was intrigued to hear about the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird&rsquos work and made the short trip from Oxford Street to Soho&rsquos Frith Street to see what was going on. He was shown the moving image of a shadowy paper mask made to appear to wink and saw that moving image transmitted to the next room.

He was excited by it and invited Baird to give the first public demonstration at his famous store. It drew large crowds. &ldquoIt is to light what telephony is to sound,&rdquo said the store&rsquos blurb.

Baird&rsquos equipment can best be described as a contraption, a fast-rotating disc with many holes in it with a light shining through, producing flickering pictures. It certainly did not have the slick look of a modern device.

People watching television at Waterloo station in 1936

The great stage and musical star Marie Tempest was invited to be present at the event.

&ldquoInteresting little man, Mr Baird,&rdquo she said. &ldquoBut I don&rsquot think that thing is ever going to work.&rdquo

Nine years later in 1934 the government set up a committee to plot a way forward into the television future.

They demanded a &ldquohigh-definition&rdquo picture with a minimum of 240 lines. Baird&rsquos earliest efforts had been 30 lines.

How The 1967 Wimbledon Championships Made Broadcasting History

Chances are that if you haven’t got tickets to Wimbledon this month (and lucky you if you have!) you will instead be watching on a colour television. This may not seem particularly momentous, but it actually has real historic significance. It was 47 years ago, in 1967 that the Wimbledon Tennis Championships became the first ever UK television programme to be broadcast in colour.

The Championships were broadcast on BBC 2, which initially became the only channel to broadcast in colour, showing just five hours of colour TV a week. This transition from black and white to colour was a huge step-forward in broadcasting technology however it was only appreciated by a few as there were less than 5,000 colour TV sets in circulation at the time.

One of these was the Sony Trinitron TV, and this one (shown below) is part of the Science Museum Group collection.

The Sony Trinitron TV was one of the first TV sets to broadcast in colour. This model will be on display in the ‘Information Age’ gallery opening later this year. Credit: Science Museum / SSPL

The Sony Trinitron TV displayed colour by use of a ‘single-gun three-cathode picture tube’, capable of broadcasting separate red, green and blue signals (RGB) in succession. This technology was first developed by John Logie Baird, a Scottish engineer well-known as the inventor of the world’s first television. He demonstrated the first colour television publicly in 1928, but due to the war suspending the BBC television service, and ultimately ending his research, the development of this technology for broadcasting was delayed.

When the Wimbledon Championships did eventually become the first colour broadcast in 1967, the interest in colour TV quickly gained momentum. Viewers cited a greater feeling of realism when watching in colour and the broadcasts aim to exploit this interest by seeking more programmes that would benefit in colour, such as the snooker programme Pot Black, and children’s TV programme Thunderbirds. Shortly after Birds Eye Peas became the first colour advertisement. By mid-1968 nearly every BBC2 programme was in colour. BBC1 and ITV quickly followed and were also regularly broadcasting in colour by 1969.

However, broadcasters still made programmes in black and white for some time, due to the large expense of the TV sets, as well as the increased cost of a colour TV license (£10 in comparison to £5 for a black and white license) which made the demand for colour TV sets increase more slowly. By 1969 there were still only 100,000 in circulation but viewers soon caught up and by 1972 there were over 1.6 million in the UK.

The Wimbledon Championships are still acting as a landmark televised event today, as in 2011 it became the first TV programme to be broadcast in 3D. However, history repeated itself, as only a few viewers could appreciate the new technology due to the small number of 3D TV sets owned in the UK. So how long do you think it will be until we are all watching the Wimbledon Championships in 3D?

Volunteer Chloe Vince looks back at the first colour TV broadcast. You can discover more about the history of communication technologies in our Information Age gallery.

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A number of guest authors, from scientists to artists, contribute to our blog, taking you behind the scenes, exploring the incredible objects in our collection, our award-winning exhibitions and the scientific achievements making headlines today.

There are 177 posts by guest authors.

This blog will take you behind the scenes at the Science Museum, exploring the incredible objects in our collection, upcoming exhibitions and the scientific achievements making headlines today.


1946: Children's Hour, television's first programme for children, is first broadcast on 9 June. Muffin the Mule makes his debut, with human sidekick Annette Mills.

1950: Andy Pandy first broadcast.

1952: Programming for children with impaired hearing starts, with For Deaf Children (later Vision On). Debut of Sooty, on Saturday Special, and Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men.

1953: Start of Watch With Mother (it runs until 1980).

1954: David Attenborough's TV debut in Zoo Quest.

1955: First appearance of The Woodentops. Crackerjack is aired as an experiment, and runs for almost 30 years. Presenters include Eamonn Andrews, Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed Stewart and Stu Francis.

1957: Debut of the porcine duo Pinky and Perky, along with Captain Pugwash.

1958: Blue Peter starts as a once-weekly, 15-minute show presented by Christopher Trace and Leila Williams.

1964: Playschool is BBC 2's inaugural programme on 21 April, and runs until 1988.

1965: The first Jackanory. In 1984 the Prince of Wales reads his children's story, "The Old Man of Lochnagar", on the programme.

1966: Beginning of the animated favourite Camberwick Green, followed by Trumpton in 1967.

1968: In response to the success of Blue Peter, ITV launches its bi-weekly magazine Magpie, which runs for 12 years. Among the presenters are Susan Stranks, Jenny Hanley, Mick Robertson and Tommy Boyd.

1972: John Craven's Newsround begins. Still running, though without Craven, the programme breaks the story of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986.

1975: Debut of ITV's Tiswas (Today is Saturday, Wear a Smile) with Chris Tarrant, Lenny Henry and Sally James.

1976: The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, the first national Saturday morning show, begins a 146-show run. Paddington Bear first broadcast.

1977: Death of Petra, the Blue Peter dog, makes the national headlines. A memorial statue is erected in the Blue Peter garden.

1978: The controversial drama Grange Hill begins.

1981: First appearance of Postman Pat.

1985: The live presenter, unfashionable since the mid-Sixties, is reintroduced to children's TV with Philip Schofield and the Broom Cupboard.

1987: Saturday morning's Going Live! launched.

1989: Start of Byker Grove, the Geordie serial that gave the world pop duo PJ and Duncan.

1993: Start of the Saturday morning show Live and Kicking.

This is the Broadcast History section of The Broadcast Archive

It would be a kindness if you'd just send a short note to let me know who you are, and what your interests are. Thanks.

OK, so which station was the first to "broadcast"?

This is a difficult question to answer, even when one defines "broadcast station." Even Lee DeForest, who presumed the title of Father of Radio, wasn't consistent. At one point, he called KQW to be the "oldest broadcasting station in the whole world." Yet, 15 years later, he gave the title to WWJ.

The stations normally considered among the first to "broadcast" in the sense of "regular programs transmitted for reception by the general public" are KCBS, WHA, WWJ, CIQC, LR2, 2MT, 2LO, and, of course, KDKA.

KCBS, San Francisco, CA

KCBS traces its lineage back to "San Jose Calling", FN, 6XE, 6FX, SJN, and then KQW, built by Charles David Herrold in 1909 in San Jose, California. Broadcasts of music from Herrold's School of Radio could be be heard every Wednesday evening, a regular schedule beginning in 1912. While it calls itself as "the longest continuously broadcasting station in the world," by a factor of at least a decade, there were, however, transmissions of music via radio by the Belgian Post Office in the same time period. Furthermore, all US stations were silenced during the latter part of WWI.

WHA, Madison, WI

WHA, originally 9XM, Madison Wisconsin was constructed by Edward Bennet and Earle Terry in 1909. The University of Wisconsin claims WHA "the Oldest Station in the Nation . in existence longer than any other." It certainly rivals KCBS. However, when the station converted from telegraphy to telephony and began regular operations is open to question. Interestingly, in a booklet issued in 1969, the University of Wisconsin comments on the debate over the definition of oldest, and refers to the "controversial puzzles: "When does an "experiment" become a "broadcast?" and "What do the words 'regularly scheduled' mean?"

It was quite interesting to see the author of the booklet take the high ground and declare "We were all responsible for the birth of broadcasting."

WWJ, Detroit, MI

WWJ, originally 8MK, began operation on August 20, 1920. The following week, it broadcast the results of an election (8/31/20). The station was owned and operated by the Detroit News. It promotes itself as "WWJ Radio One, Where it All Began, August 20, 1920." Of course, if you link 8MK to WWJ, then what of the other experimental stations that began before 1920?

KDKA, Pittsburgh, PA

And then there is KDKA, originally 8XK. Built by Dr. Frank Conrad of Westinghouse in 1916, it began playing music after the wartime ban on entertainment was lifted. Awaiting a "limited commercial" license, the station made its first splash as 8ZZ with the Harding-Cox election on 11/2/20. The plaque in Wilkinsburg, PA says "Here radio broadcasting was born . "

In Canada, the first experimental transmissions under the call sign XWA were in late 1919, according to Canadian historian Professor Mary Vipond, who wrote a book on early Canadian broadcasting called "Listening In." However, the beginning of "regular broadcasting" for CFCF is usually dated from its date of license of May 15, 1922.

2MT and 2LO, London, UK

These two stations began operations in 1922, with the BBC starting daily broadcasts in November 1922.

LR2, Buenos Aires, Argentina

This South American station began operation on August 27, 1920, one week after WWJ.

So, who was first?

There has never been full agreement over the facts or interpretations. It's also important not to overlook other important U.S. pioneering stations, such as the City of Dallas' WRR (now KAAM) the American Radio & Research stations in Medford Hillside, Massachusetts, (1XE, followed by WGI/WARC) and DeForest's High Bridge, NY station, 2XG, plus his California Theater station in San Francisco (6XC, followed by KZY). These and others, several from countries other than the US, have important early histories.

Perhaps we could suggest Doc Herrold's San Jose station was the first regularly scheduled broadcasting station. (Sure, that is a lot of "qualification." Yet, where do you start if not Marconi's tones or Fessenden's irregular program broadcasts?) However, mainly because of the lapse after WWI, when Herrold was slow to reestablish broadcasting activities, KDKA may be the oldest continuous broadcasting station. Or, maybe it is WWJ.

In any event, the controversy continues!

Check out the list of the first and oldest 100 Broadcast Stations, and the first stations in each state . (Some day, I hope to add the first stations in each country.)

Watch the video: Παπανώτας εναντίον Μαραντίνη: Ο Θοδωρής είναι λάτρης του γυναικείου φύλου - Ευτυχείτε! OPEN TV (May 2022).