Thursday, 20 October 2016

Olympic Games, Melbourne 1956 - Media

The organisers of the 1956 Olympic Games faced a number of challenges not faced by the organisers of  previous games. Suitable facilities for the general press needed to be organised however the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne was the first to be extensively covered by film, along with some limited television coverage. This created new logistical problems for the organisers.
Press facilities at the MCG
Press covering events needed space for their typewriters or room to take notes using pen and paper. Telephones were provided and some journalists used tape recorders. Reports on the Olympic Games were also presented on radio. The press stand at the MCG was the largest used for the games but temporary press stands also had to be provided at other venues.
Television
Television was launched in Australia just before the Olympic Games. A subcommittee was therefore established to oversee conditions for providing television coverage.
Local television stations in Melbourne could televise events at venues where seating was sold out such as events at the main stadium. Each evening a 16mm film was sent to television stations in Sydney.
Each night was despatched each night to various overseas destinations. Six half hour television programs were made for American syndicated television. Arrangements with airlines were made for quick transportation of film.
A major discussion point was the charges asked for by the Olympic Committee to televise Olympic Games events.
National Museum Australia has this page on TV and the Melbourne Olympics

Film
As described in a previous post restrictions were placed on the use of movie cameras by non-accredited persons as the Australian Olympic Committee had commissioned a French company to make an official film of the Olympic Games. However the restrictions were relaxed as a number of films of the Olympic Games taken by individuals exist. Three of these home movies taken by Bruce Beresford, Mile Leyland and Sir Robert Menzies can be viewed online via the National Film and Sound Archive website.
Camerman from French film company on right
The official film was released in May 1957. The Australian Women's Weekly attended the launch and reported on the event in the 20 May 1957 issue. Members of the Australian Olympic Team attended the premier.
The staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne was also seen as an opportunity to promote Melbourne, Victoria and Australia to the rest of the world.

The black and white images in this post are from the the Official report of the Organising Committee for the Games of the XVI Olympiad Melbourne 1956. This publication is available online.

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