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Media > Change > Broadcasting take-up

Take-up of radio and television in the UK: the early years

The speed at which television became popular in the United Kingdom took many by surprise. Although it took seven years for television to reach the same level as radio after the respective launch of each medium, growth accelerated rapidly from the fourth year. To begin with, the critical issue had been the availability of raw materials with which to make television sets.
         The television service was revived in mid 1946, barely a year after the end of the war in Europe. In December 1946 the Television Advisory Committee forecast production of 35,000 sets by September 1947. However, during the first half of 1947 production was limited to 2,000 receivers a month. By the end of 1947 there were only 34,000 sets in use, rising to no more than 134,000 by the end of 1948. Production then began to increase, doubling within a year, although it was not until 1953 that output of television receivers overtook production of radios.

Cumulative number of radio and television licences

Source: David Fisher, Terra Media

In the chart radio starts in 1922 and television in 1947. The forecasts made by the Television Advisory Committee in June 1949 (year three) were 50 per cent understated within two years and 100 per cent within five years.
        Because of the television system employed (405 lines), the country was relatively immune to imports but also failed to develop an export market.

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Page created 24 November 2000
David Fisher