TELEDITORIAL - Making TV History

- But nobody in New Zealand seemed to notice.

From the New Zealand TV Weekly. 29 May 1967

It's strange the degree of alacrity demonstrated by New Zealand's press and magazine commentators on television when they feel criticism is warranted, disappointing to note their tardiness, even unwillingness to acknowledge a feat that was not only praiseworthy, but historic.

And April 28 last WAS an historic day in the annals of television in New Zealand. For on that afternoon, viewers from North Cape to Bluff could watch simultaneously the State Opening of Parliament on our first-ever nation-wide link.

This was an event worthy not only of comment, but of some investigative reporting as well. Only one of the major newspapers saw fit to give it mention -and that one dwelt on the impact of the lone figure of commentator, Ian Johnstone, defying a capital city downpour to report on the ceremony. The remainder dismissed the event in a few lines to the effect that this was New Zealand's first national network TV venture.

But it was a lot more than that. It was not only a momentous do-it-yourself transmission triumph, but a technical break-through that should have won (but didn't) high praise for every technician, assistant technician and controller involved.

To attempt. such a coverage with the technical facilities available was-on the face of it-almost unbelievable. It was a matter of months of exacting preliminary planning and testing. Even at the eleventh hour, after borrowing and swapping of equipment from one channel to the next, there was always the threat of the unexpected hitch precipitating the inevitable failure.

But achieve it they did, and you can be assured that where the importance of the occasion demands it and the advance notice of an impending major event is sufficient, there WILL be more national network presentations this year.

Next time, though, take time to watch it, and give silent yet sincere thanks that NZBC's technical men throughout the country had not only the knowledge-and courage-to tackle this seemingly impossible assignment, but also the play-it-by-ear skills to carry it through successfully.

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