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1938 Chronokey Chronomedia index
Numbers after entries link to the list of references.

links and notes
  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
January 4  First BBC broadcast in Arabic for listeners in the Near and Middle East—the first foreign-language BBC service.  
January 16  Benny Goodman's band and quartet give the first jazz performance at New York's Carnegie Hall.  
February 4  First UK public demonstration of large-screen colour television. Presented as part of variety show to an audience of 3,000 at London’s Dominion theatre by Baird, using a two-colour process giving a 120-line interlaced picture, the programme is transmitted from the Baird studio at Crystal Palace in South London, eight miles away. No longer supported by the BBC, Baird Television Ltd moves to Worsley Bridge Road, Sydenham. Cinema-television
  Baird Company installs a direct projection screen television measuring 7.5ft x 10ft at 650-seat Tatler theatre, London. BBC 405-line transmissions are used for private demonstrations.  
February 27  Ireland's Radio Athlone changes its name to Radio Éireann and broadcasts one hour of programmes a day (21:30-22:30) to the UK on 531m.  
February  BBC introduces one hour of television on Sundays.  
March 14  BBC begins broadcasting in Spanish for Latin America and Portuguese for Brazil.  
March 28  Arriflex 35mm cameraArnold & Richter, Munich-based film camera manufacturer, delivers the first Arriflex hand-holdable 35mm camera (serial number 500). The camera features quick-release daylight-loading magazines, a rotating lens turret and a battery unit below the camera body, serving as a handle.
Right: The first Arri 35.
March  Cinematograph Films Act increases quotas for distribution and exhibition of British films, including shorts, to 20 per cent of screen time. It will run for 10 years. (But see 1942 October.) The Act allows exemption from quota obligations where overseas distribution rights of a British film with labour costs of at least £22,500 are acquired for at least £20,000. Double quota exemption would apply for rights costing over £30,000. [0076] < Quota exemption: 1937
UK cinema and film laws
•  Within months, Twentieth Century-Fox closes its Wembley Studios near London because of the revised quota act and leases Shepherds Bush Studios from Gaumont-British.  
March  Rock Studios at Elstree, England goes into liquidation.  
April 2  Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race is first televised, with John Snagge’s radio commentary.  
April 9  First televised soccer match, England v Scotland, is transmitted by the BBC.  
April 30  UK football’s FA Cup Final is televised for the first time by the BBC—a 2½-hour broadcast using the radio commentary for sound. Preston North End beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 with a penalty in the last minute of extra time. Television has its own commentary the following year.  
•  General Cinema Finance Corporation buys shares in the Odeon cinema chain.  
May 3  Television station W2XBS in New York broadcasts a book review programme.  
June 7  Broadway cast of Susan and God perform the play for television.  
June 9  Ceremony of Trooping the Colour is televised for the first time.  
June 17  Federation Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF) is founded at a meeting in Paris. Founder members are The Reichsfilmarchiv (Berlin), the Museum of Modern Art Film Library (New York), the National Film Archive (London) and the Cinémathèque Française (Paris).  
June 30  British films of the past 18 months that had production costs of more than £75,000 earned 41 per cent of their net revenues in exports, according to a 1940 report by the Cinematograph Films Council.  
June  Television signals from Eiffel Tower transmitter, Paris, picked up in UK on Sussex Downs by Marconiphone Company. Also during the year, television transmissions from the BBC in London are picked up at RCA's frequency measuring laboratory at Riverhead, New York; after picking up and recording the sound component, engineers acquire a 405-line receiver and film the images picked up. Atmospheric conditions at the time were exceptional, favouring long-range propagation.  
June 24  BBC televises the England v Australia Ashes Test Match from Lord's cricket ground.  
June 25  Hollywood moguls at the White HouseNine Hollywood industry leaders attend a meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt at the White House in Washington DC to discuss the industry's restrictive practices, which the government has been investigating. Click on picture for more details
June 30  Sir John Reith leaves the BBC at the end of his time as Director-General.  
July 13  Extension of the German broadband videophone circuit from Leipzig to Munich is opened. More cities are to be added to the network: Cologne, Frankfurt and Vienna. > December 15
July 13  Television demonstration is arranged at 568 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts by Porter H Evans of the Massachusetts Television Institute at that address. Musical performances in an upstairs area are screened in the auditorium below, which seats 200 patrons paying 25 cents each. No transmission is involved—the studio and auditorium are linked by cable. Although described as a form of television theatre, the display is a conventional television receiver with a vertically mounted tube, the image measuring only 9 ins x 12 ins (23cm x 31cm) being viewed through a mirror in the hinged lid of the cabinet. The system uses a 'cathovisor' cathode ray tube, supplied by Baird Television in the UK. Thanks to Donna Halper in Boston for this information
July  Reuters signs an agreement with the UK government under which it will include in its broadcast bulletins material supplied by the Foreign Office for a fee. [0054] > September 22
•  Televised by the BBC for the first time: the second and fifth cricket Test Matches at Lord's and the Oval respectively (including Len Hutton's record 364-run innings in the latter)—when the commentator is Teddy Wakelam—Wimbledon tennis and the Lord Mayor's Show. Difficulties with other sports are created by the Association for the Protection of Copyright in Sport.  
•  Television sets available at Radiolympia for 21gns (£22.05) for a 10-inch set and 37gns (£38.85) for a 12-inch set. Click on image for television set advertisements of 1938

August  Fernseh demonstrates direct-projection large-screen television with 10 square metre picture. The demonstration leads to a contract from the German Post Office to equip a television cinema.  
August 14  The Student of Prague is the first feature film to be shown in full on 405-line television by the BBC.  
August  BBC buys two complete mobile film units.  
September 3  Idea of Cannes Film Festival is first mooted during the Venice Film Festival by Philippe Erlanger and others. > 1939
September 12  H V KaltenbornCzech political crisis is reported on CBS radio by H V Kaltenborn [left], who sleeps in the studio for 18 days.  
September 20  Radio Manufacturers Association adopts standards for a US television system and submits proposals to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  
September 21, 21:45  First regular television current affairs programme transmitted by BBC—News Map, initially inspired by prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s return from meeting Hitler at Berchtesgaden the previous week (September 15). The following day Chamberlain flies to Godesberg to meet Hitler again.  
September 22  Reuter transmits its first 'managed' news from the British Foreign Office. [0054] > 1940
September 27  BBC starts its European Service with news broadcasts in French, German and Italian.  
September 30  British prime minister Neville Chamberlain returns from negotiating with Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, to Heston airport with ‘a piece of paper’. His 'peace in our time' speech beside the aircraft is televised as well as being broadcast and recorded on film. Listen Chamberlain speaks
autumn  Baird television equipment is removed from BBC Television's Studio B at Alexandra Palace to allow the Marconi-EMI system to take over both studios.  
October 17  NBC opens Hollywood Radio City at the corner of Sunset and Vine streets.  
October 22  Former Bell Telephone physicist Chester Carlson (made redundant in 1930) succeeds in making a xerographic photocopy. His technology charges a drum electrostatically with the image to be copied; this attracts a dry toning powder that is fused by heat onto a sheet of waxed paper. It will take 21 years for the idea to be introduced commercially). (Greek xeros means dry.) > 1947
October 30  Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre radio adaptation of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds causes panic in US. Apart from the radio-news realism of the presentation per se, panic is exaggerated by the large numbers of listeners who tune to the programme when a missable singing performance begins about 10 minutes into The Edgar Bergen Show on a rival network. [Even though Bergen's dummy, Charlie McCarthy, had been awarded an honorary degree by Northwestern University on 28 August.] The programme ends with a reminder by Welles that it is an entertainment in the spirit of Halloween. Riots 1926
Welles 1939
Listen Programme clip
Quotation: Alexander Woollcott
November 15  Television cameras from W2XBS happen to be present when a fire breaks out on Ward’s Island, New York, the first time an accident or disaster is shown live on US television.  
November  First direct television relay of a stage play: J B Priestley’s When We Are Married transmitted by the BBC from St Martin’s Theatre, London.  
November  Philo T Farnsworth introduces the image amplifier television camera tube.  
November 30  BBC Overseas Service has transmitted for 32,846 hours during the previous 12 months. > 1939
December 7  St Louis Post-Dispatch begins a two-year experiment to deliver an abbreviated version of the paper by UHF radio to 15 households equipped with special receivers.  
December 9  Its fame increased, Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre moves from CBS to ABC as it attracts sponsorship from Campbell Soup and becomes Campbell Playhouse.  
December 15  German Post Office (Deutsche Reichspost) opens a local videophone service in Hamburg. A connection exists between Hamburg and Germany as previously announced but is used only intermittently. > 1940
December 20  Vladimir Zworykin receives a patent for the iconoscope, 15 years after filing.  
December 24  First live BBC radio cricket commentary from overseas is given by E W (Jim) Swanton of a match between South Africa and England in Johannesburg.  
December  First televised phone-in programme: BBC’s Director of Television, Gerald Cock, answers viewers questions on the air.  
December  Government of New South Wales provides bank overdraft guarantees to aid four Australian feature film productions.  
December 31  BBC Television Service transmitters operate for 2,679 hours during year.  
end  Rank Organisation assumes control of Alexander Korda’s Denham Studios, following the latter’s financial problems of over-investment and a slump in production. Rank Film Laboratory is established on the site.  
•  Rank pioneers travelling matte techniques in Britain.  
•  MGM develops the Audioscopiks anaglyphic 3-D film system.  
•  Luigi Marzocci files Italian patents for rotary head magnetic recording.  
•  First American attempts to record television images from the face of a cathode ray tube (CRT) using 16mm film in spring-wound cameras running at 16 frames per second. This results in the rolling frame line (banding) and variations in exposure levels caused by mismatching of the odd and even interlaced fields that alternate to form each frame. To overcome this, a framing rate of 15fps is attempted but this results in recording only every other frame of the 30fps television signal.  
•  Danish film law is revised. To promote film production, a film fund is created into which exhibitors must pay a levy of between 20 per cent and 65 per cent, based on profits.  
•  Finnish Cinema Owners’ Association formed.  
•  Royal Belgian Film Archive is founded, too late to be a founder member of the International Federation of Film Archives (see June 17 ). By September 1939 it will contain three films, including a copy of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.  
•  Michael Balcon becomes head of Associated Talking Pictures on the departure of Basil Dean. The company’s name changes to Ealing Studios.  
•  Cricklewood Studios in north London ceases to be used for film production and is sold off.  
•  Anti-trust suit is initiated against the eight Hollywood majors by the Department of Justice, claiming unfair booking practices. > 1940
•  American major distributors MGM, Paramount, Twentieth Century-Fox and Warner Bros withdraw from the Italian market in protest at a law imposing limits on American film imports.  
•  First colour film made in Canada is Talbot of Canada, shot in Kodachrome.  
•  Eastman Kodak introduces its black and white cinematograph film stocks Plus-X (speed 80 ASA) and Super XX (160 ASA)—four times the speed of Super X but with no increase in graininess.  
•  UK spending on European commercial radio broadcasts beamed to Britain totals £1.7m.  
•  First prison radio broadcast, produced and presented by prisoners, is made in the Texas state penitentiary at Huntsville.  
•  Research committee appointed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to consider the threat from television recommends the installation of large-screen television in cinemas as a strategy to give the major Hollywood studios a means of controlling television companies through contractual relationships for supply of programmes.  
•  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation begins regular farm broadcasts on its French-language radio network.  
•  Old Gold cigarettes, which sponsors twice-weekly radio broadcasts by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, insists that only the band's white singer, Helen Forrest, and not the black one, Billie Holliday, should be heard on air.  
•  Around 20,000 television sets are in use in New York City (but see 1939 April).  
•  Japan intends to make extensive use of television during the Olympic Games planned for Tokyo, which are allocated instead to Helsinki.  
•  Canadian-born Al Gross (1918-2000) develops a fully portable two-way radio communications device. > 1944
•  Boots Booklovers' Library now has 35m borrowings a year. During the war the number of subscribers will exceed 1m and Boots will order 1.25m books a year, influencing the publishing trade. > 1961
•  Ball-point pen is invented in Hungary by Laszlo Biró. It is not marketed at this stage and Biró moves to South America via Paris to escape the Nazis. > 1945
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Page updated 5 May 2009
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