INFLUENCE OF FOOTBALL BROADCASTING IN THE BEGINNING OF
Dr. Joseba Bonaut Iriarte – Universidad San Jorge (Zaragoza, Spain)
In Spain, regular television broadcasting started the 28th of October 1956. At
that time, there were only 600 TV sets and the coverage of the Spanish Public
Television, TVE, barely reached 70 kilometers around the outskirts of Madrid.
Like any other beginning in television, TVE developed a very experimental
and improvised programming in terms of TV formats and genres.
In these first years, sport content (and football in particular) played a key role
in channel strategies. In fact, several years before the beginning of regular
TV broadcasting, sport competitions appeared with a strong presence in the
very first TV exhibitions in Barcelona and Madrid. In August 1948, during the
trade fair organized by the American company RCA in the Círculo de Bellas
Artes in Madrid, there were several live sport broadcasts including boxing,
basketball, wrestling, etc. These early telecasts came late if we compare them
to the experimental sports broadcasts in the USA, United Kingdom or
Germany (with the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936).
Also at this early stage of experimentation (non regular broadcasts began in
1951), TVE filmed the first football game of its history. On October 24, 1954,
the Spanish Public Television filmed a match between Real Madrid and Racing
Santander (an official game of the Spanish League) and broadcasted it
several days after. This football broadcast coincided with the development of
the first football telecasts in other European countries and with the opening
TV schedule of Eurovision Network (the operational service of the European
Broadcasting Union). The World Cup Football held in Switzerland was prime
programming in the first years of TVE. During this time, sport was a key
factor in the Spanish TV consolidation and made the first outside broadcasts
possible and the final connection with other European channels and,
especially, with the Eurovision Network.
In 1957, Spanish Public Television had many production limitations and a
desperate need to diversify its programming. Outside broadcasts became a
solution and to enhance these programs, TVE purchased in England a mobile
unit with 3 cameras and a sound table. This machine allowed the
transmission of the first football games on the screens of TVE (recorded
programs), among them the final of the European Cup between Real Madrid
and Fiorentina on May 30, 1957.
The success of this telecast and the consolidation of the new technique made
the first live football broadcast possible on April 27, 1958. In a decisive match
of the Spanish Football League (“la Liga”), Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid
faced each other with the title on the line (this match was held in the old
Atletico’s stadium, “The Metropolitan”). Spanish Public Television used the
new mobile unit to broadcast the event, connecting the stadium with their
production centre in Paseo de la Habana (Madrid). A big antenna and a
microwave link located on the roof of a building near the stadium allowed the
broadcast to be carried out. The match finished with a tie in the score and
with this result, Real Madrid won the title. The telecast was the first of many
in the following years. TVE became the first television in Europe with a weekly
live broadcast of the National Footbal League (1963), and British television
followed this experience almost 18 years later. Despite its poor development,
Spanish Public Television was a pioneer in sports programming and a
reference for other European channels.
In addition, sports programming made the spreading of television across
Spain possible, with special attention to Barcelona and its final connection
with the French Public Television (RTF) and the rest of European channels. In
1959, the telecast of the classic football rivalry (“el clásico”) between Real
Madrid and F.C. Barcelona opened the first chapter in Barcelona TV history
and attracted almost two million viewers to ensure the success of the Spanish
Public Television across the nation.
Several months later, the necessary connection with the Eurovision Network
came with another major sporting event: the broadcast of the European Cup
Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt (May 1960). This was a
historical match because TVE received time images from abroad thanks to the
Eurovision Network for the very first. This match was also a huge success for
Real Madrid, which won its fifth consecutive European Cup (a record). The
decisive connection with Eurovision took place on December 15, 1960, with
the broadcasting of the wedding between monarchs Baudouin and Fabiola of
Sport broadcasting was a decisive factor in the beginning and development of
Spanish television, thus allowing it to spread across the country (becoming
the first media reference), to diversify TV programming, to conduct the first
outside broadcasts and, finally, to make the connection with other European
Countries and Eurovision Network possible.
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