14 Jun 2001 4 comments. tbs.pm/2220
Early on in broadcasting, before television and even before a practical means to achieve it was available, the idea of sharing programmes between countries was considered an important one.
The improvement in international relations that would come about from showing the populace of one country how different – and how similar – a neighbouring state’s citizenry was had become something of a talisman for those who had lived through the Great War. That the programmes resulting were cheap – free, often – for the receiving broadcaster was a secondary consideration after the lofty ideal of world peace.
Whilst a subsequent conflict – far larger whilst also managing to kill fewer soldiers but more civilians – proved that sharing radio programmes alone would not be enough to bring about the peace so longed for, the notion of sharing programming did not die.
With the coming of popular mass television in the late 1950s, the western European countries, under the aegis of the EBU, had banded together to exchange programmes under the name ‘Eurovision’.
Public service networks like the UK’s Rediffusion and America’s PBS-forerunner NET had chosen the name ‘Intertel’.
And the eastern European nations, under the firm guiding hand of OIRT, chose the brand name ‘Intervision’. A typical display of ‘anything you can do’, much seen at the time between west and east, but also a fully-functional technical system for the exchange of programmes, and with similar ideals to those of the pioneers.
Just like Eurovision, Intervision hoped that promoting the differences and similarities in each Communist country would help international relations. It may also have helped distract the viewer from longing for other cultures not so readily approved by the Politburo, on the other side of the Curtain.
One of the features of Communism’s ideology – usually – was the concept of worldwide revolution. As Communism was the most perfect – allegedly – system, so all countries would one day fall to it. And, just as the state under Communism would wither, so would nation states.
Therefore, Intervision can actually be seen on a number of levels. It was an answer to Eurovision. It was a method of improving international relations. It was a distraction from the brighter lights of the West. It was a tool of propaganda. It was the very root activity of Communism.
And, it must be said, it was stultifying boring. Military parades, factory tours, military parades – you name it, Intervision rarely had it. But that was also the essence of Communism – and, too often, the essence of Eurovision, for that matter.