Breakdowns 

20 February 2018 tbs.pm/65019

Editor’s note: Breakdowns, of transmitters or in each transmission control room, are uncommon – and they always were. Because the most shared and watched clips of television presentation are of breakdowns and flubbs of one sort or another, people get the impression that there are lots of them. Because clips get rarer the further back you go, and because breakdowns, if caught on tape or telecine, are popular, the percentage of breakdowns in clips gets larger the older the source is. The result is people thinking that breakdowns were especially common – nay, normal – in old television. They weren’t.

That said, here’s the Independent Television Authority’s procedures for what to do if a breakdown occurs at a transmitting station. This is Issue 7 of the document, published on 26 October 1959.

INDEPENDENT TELEVISION AUTHORITY
BREAKDOWN PROCEDURE
FOR
TRANSMITTING STATIONS.

 

V I S I O N

1. Loss of Signal Incoming.

(a) Switch local Black level and syncs. (B/L & S) to transmitter;

(b) (i) Local Studio Centre Programme

Inform Studio Centre;
where provided, switch on telecine machine
if the signal is entering the P.O, apparatus feeding the line to the transmitter, inform the P.O. Centre of the failure and exchange slip numbers;

if it is or not

after 30 seconds switch local Apology Caption to transmitter;
await Studio Centre instructions BUT if signal is restored before instructions are received it must be switched to transmitter at once and Studio Centre informed;
(Any necessary SOUND announcement to be inserted by Programme Contractor);
notify H.O.M. by Service Message of failure.

(ii) Networked Programme

Inform Studio Centre;
where provided, switch on telecine machine.
if the signal is entering the P.O. apparatus feeding the line to the transmitter inform the P.O, centre of the failure and exchange slip numbers;

if it is or not

after 30 seconds switch local Apology Caption to transmitter;
await Studio Centre instructions BUT if signal is restored before instructions are received it must be switched to transmitter at once and Studio Centre informed;
if the Studio Centre is NOT receiving the signal from the P.O.N.S.C. it will take the necessary action to get the signal restored;
(Any necessary Sound announcement to be inserted by Programme Contractor);
notify H.O.M. by Service Message of failure.

2. Transmitter Failure

(a) Inform Studio Centre and, if possible, of estimated failure duration notify H.O.M. by Service Message, stating estimated duration of failure

(b) restore transmitter radiation with local B/L & S and immediately inform Studio Centre – in meantime Programme Contractor to keep programme picture on line. (Any necessary SOUND apology or records to be inserted by Programme Contractor).
notify H.O.M. by Service Message of restoration of transmission.

 

 

S O U N D

1. Loss of Signal Incoming (Normally available on dual music lines).

(a) (i) Local Studio Centre Programme

Inform Studio Centre;
where provided, switch on telecine machine
if the signal is entering the P.O. apparatus feeding the line to the transmitter inform the P.O. Centre of the failure and exchange slip numbers;

if it is or not

after 30 seconds radiate local gramophone record Apology No.1; await Studio Centre instructions BUT if signal is restored before instructions are received it must be switched to transmitter at once and Studio Centre informed;
(any necessary VISION caption to be inserted by the Programme Contractor).

(ii) Networked Programme

Inform Studio Centre;
where provided, switch on telecine machine
if the signal is entering the P.O. apparatus feeding the line to the transmitter inform the P.O. Centre of the failure and exchange slip numbers;

if it is or not

after 30 seconds radiate local gramophone record Apology No. 1. await Studio Centre instructions BUT if signal is restored before instructions are received it must be switched to transmitter at once and Studio Centre informed;
if the Studio Centre is NOT receiving the signal from the P.O.N.S.C. it will take the necessary action to get the signal restored;
(any necessary VISION Caption to be inserted by the Programme Contractor);
notify H.O.M. by Service Message of failure.

2. Transmitter Failure.

(a) Inform Studio Centre and, if possible, of failure duration;
notify H.O.M. by Service Message, stating estimated failure duration;

(b) inform Studio Centre immediately transmitter is restored on plain carrier.
(any necessary VISION Caption to be inserted by Programme Contractor);
notify H.O.M. by Service Message of restoration of transmission.

Bonus item: Tall cylindrical masts, a booklet published by the Independent Television Authority in 1966 celebrating the new transmitter design being used at Emley Moor, Winter Hill and Belmont.

You Say

2 responses to this article

Richard Jones 20 February 2018 at 4:56 pm

A tubular mast,what could go wrong… 😇

Alan Keeling 22 February 2018 at 3:55 pm

During the early 60s, I recall ITA regional trade tests being interrupted at regular intervals with a caption slide: AN ANNOUNCEMENT IN SOUND WILL BE MADE. This was for dealers to turn up the volume on a set in the shop to hear a recorded announcement from a member of the transmitter staff, stating, for instance, that the following days trade tests will be on low power, to enable maintenance of the transmitter mast.

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