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Television Committee's Report - Editorial

Wireless World, May, 1945.
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Television Psychology.

So far, there have been few adverse criticisms of the Television Committees Report, summarised in this journal last month. Indeed, has been the subject of surprisingly little serious discussion, though several well-deserved tributes have been paid to the pains-taking and thorough manner in which the members have carried out their difficult task. There is much that is admirable in the Report, but we think it fails to take into account the psychological reactions of the average potential viewer, on whose attitude will ultimately depend the success or failure of British television. In particular, he has heard so much of wartime developments that he is unlikely to be more than lukewarm towards the restarted pre-war system, especially when there is a promise of better television round the corner. There will be every temptation to delay the installing of a receiver. Promises that the 405 line service will be retained for a period of years, in parallel with transmissions of higher definition, will do little to allay feelings of uncertainty and fears of obsolescence. A secondary matter, also largely psychological, is the size of the television viewing screen, which was often compared, perhaps subconsciously and certainly unjustifiably, with the larger screen of the cinema.

These and similar questions must be studied most intensively by all concerned with the future well-being of television. Most emphatically, the set-up of our post-war service, which will depend for its success on the number of patrons it can attract, cannot be decided on a severely rational basis of technical standards or programme composition. Less tangible factors are of at least equal importance. For instance, we should try to learn why so few receivers were sold between I936 and I939. (The generally accepted figure is. only 18,500). Many reasons have been given; at present one guess seems almost as good as another. Fear of obsolescence was undoubtedly one cause. Television is still in its infancy; it is certain to become better and cheaper before long. Again, it is doubtful if television was publicised to the best advantage; did all those millions to whom the service was in fact available fully realise that it was a practical possibility for them?

Wireless World has always urged the need for re-establishing television with the least possible delay, and inclines more strongly than ever to the view that a new start should be made with a standard of definition involving no radical departure from well-tried technique, either in transmission or receiver design. But, within that limitation, definition should be the highest that can be achieved. Let us concentrate on that, without too many problematical 1,000 line distractions. Elsewhere in this issue a contributor examines the Report in detail, and rejects the re-establishment of the 405 line pre-war service as anything but a temporary measure. We hope that readers will give us their view on this important matter.

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