Rediffusion – a brief history…
In 1928 Broadcast Relay Service Limited (BRS) was formed, and for three shillings a week, began to relay radio shows to a small number of subscribers in Clacton, Essex. The service only required a loudspeaker to be installed in the home in order to receive the programmes. By 1929 the number of subscribers had grown to around 200 and included the areas Braintree, Ramsgate and Hull.
In 1931 a new company called Rediffusion was formed by Broadcast Relay Service Limited. The name originated from the process of re-diffusing, meaning to re-broadcast audio signals via a wired network. Later, advances in technology meant television programmes could also be relayed through their network.
By 1947 Rediffusion had developed a substantial wired network piping both radio and television programmes into thousands of homes. It was at this point they also decided to start manufacturing television sets, rented to customers specifically for use on the Rediffusion network.
Subscribers selected their Radio or TV channel using a selector switch located adjacent to their television set or radio speaker. Subscriber service was key to the success of the company and the white and yellow service vans were a common sight in most cities around the UK.
In 1954 the UK government finalised the agreement for the start of commercial television broadcasting. Keen to be part of this new era of television, Rediffusion collaborated with Associated Newspapers and formed a new company called Associated-Rediffusion.
In 1955 Associated-Rediffusion began broadcasting using the ITV transmitters at Croydon, South London and quickly became a mainstay of commercial television broadcasting for the London and south east area.
The Rediffusion Star logo became the symbol for the whole group.
Rediffusion went on to become a multi-national conglomerate with over 170 branches in the UK and divisions worldwide. Over the years the business expanded into a huge range of electronic and manufacturing companies, including telecommunications, broadcasting, computer systems, flight simulation, music and recording, business electronics and television manufacturing and by 1976 the groups assets were $450 million with 13,000 UK employees and 2,800 overseas employees.
1980s and beyond…
By the mid 1980s, BET plc had outright ownership and decided to rid themselves of their electronics interests. The Rediffusion Group was broken up and sold off. The TV rental business was acquired by Granada, with much of the property and networks going to Maxwell Communications. And by the 1990s all other group companies and overseas interests had been disposed of.
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