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The Rushden Echo, 28th June 1968, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Rushden viewers are ‘blacked out’

Television dealers in the Rushden and Higham Ferrers area have been receiving numerous complaints from annoyed viewers about the bad picture and sound reception on BBC 1.

Reception seems particularly bad – in some cases it is almost impossible to get any picture or sound in the early evenings, the time when many tennis fans would be watching the first-ever open Wimbledon.

A Rushden television engineer, Mr. Harry Wills, said there was little anybody could do about the poor quality reception. “Sun spots and other freak atmospheric conditions are causing continental stations transmitting on roughly the same band as BBC 1 to interfere with the BBC 1 picture and sound.

“The BBC signal is going the same on the continent,” he said.

He added on some occasions he had been able to pick up a better Spanish television picture than BBC 1.

Mr. Wills said these sort of freak conditions occur in an 11-year-cycle. Next year is the peak of this cycle and conditions are likely to get worse.

He explained that ITV pictures avoided this interference because they were transmitted on a much higher frequency than BBC 1.

Mr. Wills, who is also an amateur radio ham, admitted that atmospheric conditions were exceptional this year.

“I have been able to pick up walkie-talkie sets from America. Usually they have a very limited range – in fact most Americans buy them so that they can talk to their neighbour,” he said.

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