Uncovering local history: 16mm TV news film remaining in U.S. television stations

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Fain, Rob Jason
16mm film; film archives; News; Television; TV news film collections
thesis / dissertation description
Beginning in the 1940s, the U.S. television news industry used 16 millimeter film to gather daily local field footage. By 1980 videotape pushed news film aside. Though historians and others would later find value in the film, many TV stations had by then disposed of their film. Reported here are results of a survey that determines which U.S. TV stations still have their news film and its current physical condition. A six-page survey was mailed to chief engineers and operations managers at more than 600 commercial TV stations that went on the air prior to January 1, 1977. The response rate was 26%. One-quarter of the stations returning surveys report some news film in their stations and some responses revealed some film was transferred to videotape. Most respondents that reported film collections also provided information on its frequency of use, re-licensing policies for the film, working status of film playback equipment and current film storage conditions. Keywords: television, news, 16mm film, film archives, TV news film collections