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Public Television in Germany


THE Minister of Posts, Herr Eltz von Rubenach, opened on March 1 the German Post Office's two-way telephone-television service connecting Berlin and Leipzig, a distance of about 100 miles, by cable. According to The Times of March 2, the Minister afterwards saw and spoke to the Chief Burgomaster of Leipzig. This is the first service of the kind in the world and it will remain open during the Leipzig Spring Fair, which ends on March 7; it will then be closed until March 30 for testing purposes. At present, seeing by telephone in Germany is limited to persons who go to public offices, two of which have been opened in each town. A three minute communication costs 3 marks 50 pfennigs. This includes the notification of a specified person in the town at the other end of the line. Great public interest has been aroused, the bookings for last Monday being all taken up by 6 p.m. on Sunday. The quality of the pictures produced appears to be good, 180-line definition and 25 frames a second being used. The head and shoulder image of a person is clearly produced. The effect is comparable to a small size projection of a substandard cinema film. The cabins are fitted with comfortable armchairs; the user rests his head on a cushion and the attendant lowers or raises the chair until it is exactly in focus with the scanning apparatus. The image of the correspondent appears above the bright light of the scanner, but is not disturbed by it. Details like the hands of a wrist-watch or a ring on the hand holding the telephone are said to be clearly visible. The apparatus used in Berlin was constructed by the German P.O. laboratory and that used in Leipzig by the Fernseh-Aktiengesellschaft, of which Baird Television Ltd. holds a quarter of the shares.

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Public Television in Germany. Nature 137, 391 (1936).

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