The history of Rediffusion goes back to the early days of radio broadcasting in the 1920's. Programmes were re-broadcast and sent along wires to homes which only needed a simple loudspeaker to receive them. With the commencement of Television Broadcasting by the BBC in 1946, Rediffusion introduced a system of re-broadcasting the television service through it's wired system offering interference free viewing to thousands of UK subscribers.
In 1954 the Independant Television Act of Parliament provided for the formation of the Independant Television Authority (ITA), thus breaking the monopoly of the BBC and on November 22 of that year the formation of Associated Rediffusion was announced as a joint venture by Broadcast Relay Service and Associated Newspapers Limited, to become the first ITA programme contractor for the London area from Monday to Friday each week. Of all the regional contracts available, London was the most prestigious and it was this contract that Rediffusion and Associated Newspapers applied for and won.
Associated Rediffusion based their Headquarters at Television House, Kingsway, London WC2.
Broadcasting commenced from the ITV Croydon transmitter on September 22 1955 using a power of 200Kw (e.r.p.) and a 200ft lattice tower supporting the antenna radiating a Vertically Polarised signal at 194.75 Mc/s serving the London Area on VHF Band III Channel 9 405 lines. The 200ft 'Mast' was replaced in 1962 when a much higher 500ft tower came into operation offering much greater field coverage of the ITA signal across the home counties with an increase in e.r.p. to 400Kw.
As all previous transmissions by the BBC had used the lower VHF band I, it was necessary for viewers to the new ITA stations to have a Band III aerial installed and BBC only television sets had to be fitted with a Band III converter to receive the new station. Croydon continued to broadcast ITV VHF transmissions up to the closure of 405-line broadcasting in January 1985.
A major contribution by Associated Rediffusion to television was the introduction of Schools Programmes, the first broadcaster in the UK to provide a schools service. By 1965 as many as 11,000 schools were using the service. In addition, the company brought to television an innovative flair that has probably never been surpassed. The documentary series ‘This Week’ was introduced and, in 1965, was attracting an audience of 12 million viewers. A production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ attracted nearly ten per cent of the population, whilst a production of Laudes Evangelii was described by an American critic as ‘one of television’s lasting accomplishments, a work of breathtaking reverence and beauty’. It became apparent that certain types of programme, serious music and opera were, at that stage of television’s development, not ideal for the medium. To make good the inadequacies of television in these areas the company subsidised serious music through patronage of concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and gave substantial grants to repertory theatres and schools of drama and music.
In 1964 Associated Newspapers withdrew their stake in the company and Associated Rediffusion siezed the opportunity to rebrand itself Rediffusion Television Ltd with the On-Air Logo Rediffusion London.
The Final Years.
In 1967 ITA programme contractors were reshuffled with Rediffusion Television Ltd being forced into a merger with ABC Television (the contractor providing weekend programming) with the emergence of a new Company, Thames Television in which Rediffusion was reported to have had a 49% holding.
It was in July 1968 that the name Rediffusion disappeared from TV screens in the UK but the Rediffusion Group activities were growing at a fast rate in television manufacture and rental, and other diversified areas both nationally and overseas.
ASSOCIATED - REDIFFUSION
Associated Rediffusion Headquarters, Kingsway London C1960
Television House, Kingsway
Associated Companies in over 175 towns in Great Britain and in Barbados, Bermuda. Canada, Ceylon, Guyana,
Hong Kong, Jamaica, Malaya, Malta, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and West Africa etc.
Obituary to John Drew Tucker
1926 - 2011