A look behind the cameras at Alpha

Nerve-centre of the whole undertaking is Master Control. This is the operations room. It is manned by experts who carry responsibility for maintaining the highest technical standards.

They ensure that top-quality pictures are beamed from Alpha to the Independent Television Authority’s transmitter at Hints, near Lichfield.

In Master Control life is ruled by the stop-watch: it is a place where split-second timing is essential and literally true.

The duty Transmission Controller has to co-ordinate the cueing of network and regional programmes: he must insist on programmes ending to the scheduled second and “roll” films which are of pre-determined length. Effective synchronisation (with many regions inter-linked) calls for alert control and high sense of responsibility.

“Loggists”, too, know the reality of split second timing. It is their duty to monitor every second of transmissions—noting “on” and “off” times of every programme and every commercial. They record, too, times and type of any occasions when technical levels are sub-standard.

In Master Control, every second on the air is “on record”.

When you switch on your set do you ever think of the immense organisation of technical and artistic skills that lie behind the service at the “transmission end”?

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