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1955 Chronokey Chronomedia index
Numbers after entries link to the list of references.

links and notes
  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
January 4  Finnish Society of Amateur Film Makers is founded.  
January 19  Eisenhower press conferencePress conference given by President Eisenhower is filmed in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House. It is broadcast, as well as being shown in US cinemas, for the first time. (For television the 33-minute event is cut to 28 minutes to fit the half-hour format.)
[Picture source: White House]
> 1961
January  British Lion Films is formed to replace the insolvent British Lion.  
January  Television service started by Radio Luxembourg. Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion becomes Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT). Television service start dates
January  The average price of LPs in the USA is cut to $3.98.  
February 10  Federal Communications Commission begins hearings in Washington about whether to allow US broadcasters to transmit subscription television programmes. Over 25,000 submissions are received, running to 92 volumes of printed evidence.  
March 3  Elvis Presley makes his television debut on Louisiana Hayride.  
March 22  UK permitted television broadcasting hours for both BBC and the forthcoming ITV services are fixed at a total of 35 hours on weekdays, with a daily maximum of eight hours, not before 9am nor after 11pm, with a closedown between 6pm and 7pm and no more than two hours before 1pm. The same restrictions apply on Saturday; on Sunday the maximum is seven and three-quarter hours, and not more than 15 hours over the weekend as a whole. On Sunday programmes can be transmitted between 2pm and 11pm, with a closedown from 6.15pm to 7.30pm. Religious services may be broadcast outside these hours and in addition to the total permitted hours. Outside broadcasts of special events are also not included in the daily limits.  
March  Television service starts in Denmark. Television service start dates
March  AT&T colour television landlines now serve over 90 per cent of the US; 46 stations are equipped to transmit colour slides, 45 colour films and 15 live broadcasts.  
March  Independent Television is allowed 50 hours a week maximum, plus religious and some outside broadcasts; a break in programmes is required each evening. > 1957
first quarter  Television viewing equals radio listening in the UK, according to BBC research: the average evening ‘reach’ (proportion of the population viewing or listening) is 14.9 per cent for television, 14.7 per cent for radio. The television audience is now estimated at 12.1m, although there are still 24.1m adults in homes with radio but not television.  
April 14  BBC acquires a site at Rosemarkie, north-east of Inverness, on which to construct a permanent transmitter to extend the television service to the North of Scotland by the end of 1956.  
April  Technical principles of a satellite communication system are described in a paper by John Pierce of Bell Laboratories.  
April  BBC announces imminent construction of a television transmitter site at Les Platons, Jersey to extend television services to the Channel Islands.  
April  Dr Charles Hill, the former 'radio doctor', succeeds Earl De La Warr as Postmaster-General (PMG), the UK cabinet minister with responsibility for broadcasting. > 1963
May 2  BBC’s first VHF broadcasting station is opened at Wroxham at the start of a programme to provide VHF radio coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population by 1959. When nine more transmitters are brought into use by the end of 1956, the audience able to receive the Home Service will increase by 5.3m, the Light Programme by 2.9m and the Third Programme by 11.8m.  
May 8-10  In making use of television in the run-up to the UK General Election, the Conservative Party stages a ‘press conference’ with the prime minister and four senior colleagues being interviewed by newspaper editors, while Liberal Party representatives (including cricket commentator John Arlott) discuss Liberalism with two middle-class voters.
        For Labour, party leader Clement Attlee and his wife hold a ‘fireside chat’ with newspaper editor Percy Cudlipp. 'Only when he mentioned education did Mr Attlee's voice become animated,' commented the Manchester Guardian (May 11). 'One imagines that he neither won nor lost a single vote last night. It would have been more interesting if he has pitched into Mr Harold Macmillan for the pretensions he had advanced on television the previous evening.'
View an extract from the Conservative press conference (links to BBC website)
May 26  Coverage of the UK General Election results is the largest television programme event yet in the UK, involving 37 cameras (cf, 1953 June 2)—including 18 outside broadcast locations—and a team of more than 500 people, including seven statisticians to calculate the ‘swing’ in voting. An electronic computer is used to analyse results. The programme continues until 4am and resumes after a two-hour break for most of the following day.  
May  Edward Schuller of Telefunken in Germany patents a two-head helical scan system of video recording.  
May  On award of its contract to become ITV weekday contractor for the north of England, Granada Television buys a 4½-acre site at Quay Street, Manchester and builds a completely new production centre. Granada has been in the cinema business since 1930.
        For its London area weekday service Associated Rediffusion (AR) acquires Adastral House, the former headquarters of the Air Ministry in Kingsway, London WC2, where it has its headquarters, plus two studios (7 and 8), the production facilities of Independent Television News (ITN) and temporary accommodation for ATV, the weekend contractor. AR also has studios at Empire Way, Wembley and, for its first two years, the Granville Theatre at Walham Green, London SW6.
        ATV prepares production facilities at Britallian House, Foley Street, London W1, and at Highbury Studios and the former Wood Green Empire, both in north London. It also commissions two state-of-the-art mobile production units.
> September 22
May  Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinéma et de Télévision (CILECT), the international grouping of film schools, is formed at the Cannes Film Festival.  
June 2  Construction of Baikonur Cosmodrome space launch facility in Soviet Kazakhstan begins.  
June 7  Dwight D Eisenhower is the first US president to appear on colour television.  
June 23  Release of Walt Disney's Lady and the Tramp, the first animated feature in CinemaScope.  
June  Television service starts in Thailand. Television service start dates
June  Cable-laying for the transatlantic voice telephony cable is started by the British ship Monarch, the only one cable of carrying the single length of 1,500 nautical miles of cable, which incorporates 21-metre long flexible repeaters, designed and made by Western Electric to be only slightly greater in diameter than the cable. A 200-mile cable runs from the shore at Clarenville, Newfoundland, joined to the main cable, which runs to Rockall, from where another 500-mile cable takes signals ashore at Oban, Scotland for connection to the already built shore station, the whole operation completed on 14 August 1956.  
summer  After failing to agree terms for an film import quota with the Spanish authorities, the Motion Picture Export Association of America (MPEAA) boycotts Spain. As well as a limit on imports, Spain asks for eight Spanish films a year to be distributed in North America and for US distributors in Spain to handle one Spanish film for every five American imports. Spanish companies take advantage of the situation by restructuring the market, including the acquisition of some local branches of American distributors. American film boycotts
July 9  Rock Around the ClockRock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & The Comets reaches number one in Billboard magazine's US charts, replacing Perez Prado's version of Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, which had been top for 10 weeks. Quaintly described on Decca's label as 'fox trot', it stays at the top for nine weeks until 3 September, when it is replaced by Mitch Miller's Yellow Rose of Texas.  
July  BBC announces that it will increase television broadcasting output from 36 a week to 49 hours as from September 19. Afternoon programmes will extend from 3pm to 5pm (increased of 4.15pm)—the first hour for women’s programmes, the second for children—and evening transmissions will begin at 7pm instead of 7.25pm.  
July 18  Walt Disney opens the 74-acre Disneyland theme park at Anaheim, California.  
Walt Disney studios in Hollywood, sponsored by Eastman Kodak, demonstrates its cinema-in-the-round system, Circarama—later shown at the Brussels International Exposition in 1958. [The system is installed at Disneyland this year.]  
July 18  Extension to the Post Office transmitter site at Rugby in the English Midlands (see 1926, 1927), tripling its international telecommunications capacity, makes it the largest station in the world, with facilities for voice, telegraphy, picture and sound transmission. The £1m three-year expansion brings the total site to 53 transmitters and 200 receiving aerials cover an area of 1m,600 acres. New facilities include 28 high power radio transmitters beaming to Johannesburg, Montreal and New York.  
July 21  BBC Divis television transmitter opens in Northern Ireland. See also > November
July 27  Postmaster-General Dr Charles Hill imposes a formal ban on BBC Television broadcasting discussions or statements about any matter before parliament for the 14 days before the debate and on MPs making any broadcast about any matter before either house. Hitherto this '14-day rule' had operated on a self-imposed basis by the BBC. Despite a recommendation from the Broadcasting Councils for Scotland and Wales, the BBC is only allowed to transmit party political broadcasts to the whole of the United Kingdom and not to individual regions. [Within two months an alternative television service will begin broadcasting on a specifically regional basis.] > November 30
August 1  Federal Communications Commission reduces the minimum radiating power requirement for commercial television stations in the US to 100W. In particular this is intended to allow low-power relays of signals picked up by microwave from remote transmitters, as in the Sylvania experiment at Emporium, Pennsylvania.  
August 7  Tokyo Telecommunuications Engineering (later called Sony) puts transistor radios in the market in Japan.  
August 26  NBC televises tennis—Davis Cup matches— in colour for the first time.  
September 4  First BBC Television News with in-vision newsreader, Kenneth Kendall.  
September 19  BBC Television broadcasting time is increased as previously announced.  
September 20  First edition of the weekly TV Times, carrying details of programmes on ITV, is published in the London area. > 1991 March 1
September 20  First in the new series of BBC radio comedy programme The Goon Show achieves a bigger audience in its 30 minutes than all the programmes in the imminent first week of ITV.  
September 21  Associated British Cinemas (ABC) is awarded the franchise for broadcasting on Saturdays and Sundays in the ITV regions of the Midlands and the North.  
September 22, 18:45  In BBC radio soap opera The Archers, recently married Grace Archer is killed in a stable fire. The episode has 8m listeners and makes front page news next morning. [The decision to kill her off, or at least to have a coup to upstage the launch of ITV, had been taken in January.] Rooney Pelletier quotation
September 22, 19.15  Start of commercial Independent Television (ITV) service in UK, initially only from Crystal Palace transmitter in Croydon on channel 9 to London area only, with potential coverage of 10m viewers in 3.175m homes, although it is estimated that only 169,700 households are actually capable of receiving the programmes. Programme companies are Rediffusion Television (weekdays) and Associated Television (weekends). First programme, The Ceremony at the Guildhall, includes Sir John Barbirolli conducting the Hallé Orchestra as well as speeches by Independent Television Authority chairman Sir Kenneth Clark, Postmaster General Dr Charles Hill, and the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Seymour Howard. Next programme: Channel Nine variety show starts at 20.00. The BBC screens its upmarket quiz, Animal, Vegetable and Mineral at that time, gaining a 23 per cent audience share against ITV's 66 per cent, with 11 per cent of sets not being switched on. > November
September 22, 21:12  Gibbs SR toothpasteFirst television commercial broadcast in UK is for Gibbs SR toothpaste. It has been produced by Brian Palmer and made by AB-Pathé for advertising agency Young & Rubicam.  
September 23  First in a series of a series of three-minute commercials for Shell is broadcast on ITV. The Discovering Britain mini-programmes feature John Betjeman, beginning with a film about the Avebury prehistoric site in Wiltshire. > 1962 March 25
September 23  DuMont television network in US ceases regular operations with its last regularly scheduled programme, the panel game What's the Story? Hereafter the network makes occasional sports broadcasts until August 1956. This leaves only the three (NBC, CBS, ABC) that dominate US broadcasting for decades to come. > 1956
September 25  ATV broadcasts the first Sunday Night at the London Palladium, a peak-time weekly entertainment show live from the London Palladium theatre, close to Oxford Circus. The one-hour show is compèred by Tommy Trinder and stars Gracie Fields. The middle section features an audience participation game show, Beat the Clock.  
September 30  Death of James Dean in a car crash at the age of 24. He is nominated posthumously for an Academy Award, the first actor so honoured, but does not win.  
October 10  Test transmissions by the BBC of NTSC colour television, adapted to the 405-line standard, begin from the Alexandra Palace transmitter. > 1956
October 13  First edition of L'Express newspaper in France.  
November 13  First live US television originating from outside continental US comes from Havana, Cuba.  
November  In the first eight weeks of UK independent television transmissions, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) puts ITV's audience share at 55 per cent. The BBC claims a 56 per cent share. The market does not extend to 111 per cent. > 1956
ITV's initial audience is less than 200,000. Advertisers spend £2m on buying time on the new service by the year end. [0063] audience: > 1957
advertising: > 1959
November 30  House of Commons debates the '14-day rule' preventing discussion of matters before parliament within a fortnight of debates. A select committee is set up to review the issue. > 1956
November  Sony markets first Japanese stereo home-use audio tape recorder.  
November  First live BBC television transmission from Northern Ireland.  
November  Click for ABC ident In Birmingham, England the two newly appointed ITV contractor companies, ABC Television and Associated Television, form a joint venture, Alpha Television, to develop and share studio facilities at the Alpha Television Studios, converted in three months from the former Astoria Cinema (aka New Theatre) in Aston Road North at Aston Cross. > 1956
November  New York City now has seven television stations: the four networks—WABC (ABC, 7 West 66th Street), WABD (DuMont, 205 East 67th Street), WCBS (CBS, 485 Madison Avenue), WRCA (NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza)—and three independents—WATV (Empire State Building), WOR (1440 Broadway) and WPIX (220 East 42nd Street).  
December 12  See You Later Alligator is recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets at Decca Records studios, New York.  
December  In the UK the fledgling ITV network abandons morning broadcasts between 10:30 and 12:30 because of the financial losses they are incurring.  
United Artists withdraws from membership of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is protest at the refusal of a classification certificate for Otto Preminger’s film The Man With the Golden Arm.  
ABC Television, newly awarded an ITV franchise, buys Teddington Studios for its film and live television drama productions.  
Opening of the Canadian parliament is televised for the first time.  
Commercial television starts in Japan.  
Following blockbuster success with its film The Quatermass Experiment, developed from a BBC Television series, Hammer Films starts to concentrate on making horror movies. Two more Quatermass films follow in successive years.  
Ealing Studios financial debts lead to selling off most of its assets, including the actual studios, which are bought by the BBC for £300,000.  
Le Ballon RougeHelivision anti-vibration helicopter camera mount is invented by French director/cinematographer Albert Lamorisse and used his his film Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon), which goes on to win the Oscar for best original screenplay. [A telling interaction of technology and art.]  
Howard Hughes’ RKO Pictures studio is sold to General Teleradio, a subsidiary of General Tire and Rubber for $25, and becomes RKO Teleradio. The RKO film library is sold to C&C Cola for $15m—which promptly makes available 740 RKO features to television stations free of charge, on condition their beverage is advertised during breaks. > 1957
> 1959
RCA tests its fixed-head videotape recorder at NBC. Tape speed is reduced from 360 ips to 240 ips to give a longer recording time.  
Bing Crosby Enterprises fixed-head videotape recorder system is now analogue, running at 360 ips and then 240 ips with five tracks on half-inch tape: red, green, blue, sync and FM sound.  
Research into videotape recording starts at Victor Company of Japan (JVC) by team under Kenjiro Takayanagi.  
In the US, DuMont and Al Simon introduce similar 35mm film cameras with electronic viewfinders, intended for the pre-recorded television programme production market. Simon's Video-Film camera and Du Mont's Electronicam are similar, the latter being produced in different versions for television and film production and  designed in both 35mm and 16mm formats. Electronicam is used to produce the filmed episodes of The Honeymooners. Click on picture for more details
Oklahoma! is the first feature film production in the Todd-AO format, a 65mm negative/70mm print with five-perforation pulldown running at 30 fps. The music won the Academy Award for Best Musical Picture Score and the soundtrack album remained in the US album charts for 255 weeks, selling a million copies by 1959.  
‘Free Cinema’ movement of documentaries starts in UK with Momma Don’t Allow by Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson (er, what about Lindsay Anderson’s Wakefield Express in 1952 and O Dreamland in 1953?).  
Masking on Gone with the WindMasking is first used in projection to achieve a wide-screen effect (normally 1.85:1 aspect ratio) for the re-issue of Gone with the Wind.  
More than half of all Hollywood feature films are now made in colour.  
Action Ciné Jeunes (Cine Action for Juniors) is founded in Belgium with support from the Ministry for the French Community to promote film-related educational and creative activity for young people.  
Two Eidophor television projectors are installed in a New York cinema as part of a deal that will see the machines being manufactured by General Electric at its plant in Syracuse, New York.  
Jhanak Jhanak Payal BajeFirst 35mm Technicolor film made in India by Indian technicians is V Shantaram’s Hindi production Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (The Tinkling of Anklets), a Khatak dance spectacular. It is re-released in 1982 in a 70mm blow-up version.  
Television service is started in Austria by Österreichischer Rundfunk. Television service start dates
Zenith Flash-Matic remote controlIn the US Zenith Radio Corporation introduces a cordless remote control television receiver, the Flash-Matic, devised by Zenith staff engineer Eugene Polley (1916- ) Four photocell sensors positioned at the corners of the cabinet control turning the set and the sound on and off and changing progressively between channels. The remote control consists of a gun-shaped directional flashlight that has to be aimed at the appropriate photocell. Other bright light sources can also activate the cells. Polley's achievement is subsequently overshadowed by the next remote control, Adler's Space Command of 1956. < 1950
> 1956

Click on picture for more.

In 1997 the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded both Adler and Polley an Emmy for the development of the remote control

Eugene Polley quotation
Radio service starts in Bahrain.  
NBC Special of Mary Martin in Peter Pan attracts 65m viewers.  
NBC publishes Strangers into Customers, a report on the effectiveness of television advertising which observes that 'after TV people become more conscious of advertising; that they become more aware of brand names; that the number of customers for televised brand products increased; and, above all, that TV worked fast and continued working'.  
What's My LineTelevision quiz programmes attract vast audiences in the US, notably The $64,000 Question. In Britain: What’s My Line?  
Les Paul makes a disc of How High the Moon/The World is Waiting for the Sunrise with each song on a separate concentric spiral groove on the same sideof the record, reviving an idea first used in 1898 and which had also been employed for 'puzzle records' in the early 1930s.  
Kemsley Newspapers merges Sunday Chronicle into its Empire News.  
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Page updated 27 February 2013
© David Fisher