The World at War

This month marks the 40th anniversary of one of television’s greatest history documentary series. Taylor Downing celebrates The World at War.

Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary, breaks her postwar silence in an interview for the series conducted by Sue McConachy and Michael Darlow, left. Production manager Liz Sutherland supervisesOn February 15th, 1971 the Conservative Minister for Posts and Communications, Christopher Chataway, stood up in the House of Commons and announced that the colour TV licence fee was being increased to £12. He then made a momentous announcement affecting the BBC’s commercial rival, ITV. Ever since the public had perceived that ITV was a ‘licence to print money’ the government had put an extra tax on every ITV company, called the Levy. This was a tax on advertising income and, unlike corporation tax (which the ITV companies also paid), the Levy was a tax on revenues and not on profits. The ITV companies had lobbied hard for the removal of the Levy and argued that they would soon have to cut back on new programming, if this money continued to go to the Treasury. The Thames Television company accounts for 1969 recorded a post-tax profit of only £5,609 on revenues of over £15 million.

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