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Published on Jul 29, 2009
Part One - Sound coverage of the Olympic Games Part Two - Television coverage of the Olympic Games
BBC Television broke all records during the Olympic Games in the greatest fortnight in its history. From 2.45pm on 29 July 1948, when the Emitron cameras first opened up on Wembley Stadium, until the evening of 14 August, the total time expended on television outside broadcasts was 68hours 29 minutes, or an average of nearly five hours a day. This was in addition to regular tranmissions. Outside broadcasting output was twice that originally intended. The games were covered by the latest CPS Emitron cameras that could operate successfully even at sunset and were developed at EMI between 1946 and 1948. These new cameras made it possible at least to cover events at comparatively short notice. They now had a three-lens turret and an electronic viewfinder. It was claimed that the quality was excellent. It was also claimed that the cameras gave a much better picture, richer, clearer, devoid of smears and, perhaps, most importantly of all, had for the first time a useful degree of depth and focus a quality which enables the viewer to see both the foreground and the background equally clearly. Previously the foreground had been clearly defined but the background was a mere blur. The work was stimulated in the BBC by T C MacNamara, in charge of television engineering planning.
The games had Englad overflowing with overseas visitors. Here was a wonderful opportunity of proving to the world that Great Britain still led in television development. The radio industry was not slow in seizing the opportunity as well.
It was claimed that the number of receivers in the London area had increased from 14,550 in 1946 to 66,000 by December 1948. Technically it was a triumph of old and new. One mobile unit used for outdoor track events at the stadium had not been used since 1936; the other was entirely new. The presentation of these games was an artistic as well as a technical triumph and was much in keeping with the original spirit of the BBC Television Service. Wembly Stadium was linked by a special coaxil cable, (as well as using the high-frequency radio link), to Alexandra Palace, where the signal was received and re-broadcast to the home viewer.