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Experimental Stereophonic Programmes

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 27 March 1962

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asked the Postmaster-General how many experimental stereophonic programmes have been broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation; and over what period.

The B.B.C. tells me that it has broadcast seventy-nine experimental stereophonic programmes since 1958.

In view of the lengthy experiments which have taken place, I presume that it is the intention of the B.B.C. to give a service of stereophonic sound broadcasting. Why the delay? Why let the Americans pip us in this matter as they did with colour television?

This is a highly complicated technical matter. The system which is being used in America has one very great disadvantage, in that it seriously reduces the range of the transmitters using it. The B.B.C.'s experimental transmissions require the use of two separate sound channels. The view of my experts is that such a system cannot be regarded as a practicable one for the future. At the same time, we are getting useful experience from these experiments.

Is not there a danger of the best becoming the enemy of the good, or even of the very good, in these experiments?

As I said, this is a highly complicated business, but it has certain very great technical disadvantages as at present experimented with—and the American system reduces the range of the transmitters, which is also an important consideration.