October 5, 2022

One Last Broadcast for Queen Elizabeth II

The coronation had worldwide effects too. It began the age when TV would bring the world into your living room live — or at least close to it. In 1953, with live trans-Atlantic broadcasts still not yet possible, CBS and NBC raced to fly the kinescopes of the event across the ocean in airplanes with their seats removed to fit in editing equipment. (They both lost to Canada’s CBC, which got its footage home first.)

The next day’s Times heralded the event as the “birth of international television,” marveling that American viewers “probably saw more than the peers and peeresses in their seats in the transept.” Boy, did they: NBC’s “Today” show coverage, which carried a radio feed of the coronation, included an appearance by its chimpanzee mascot, J. Fred Muggs. Welcome to show business, Your Majesty.

The one limit on cameras at Elizabeth’s coronation was to deny them a view of the ritual anointment of the new queen. By 2022, viewers take divine omniscience for granted. If we can think of it, we should be able to see it.

So after Elizabeth’s death, you could monitor the convoy from Balmoral Castle in Scotland to London, with a glassy hearse designed and lit to make the coffin visible. You could watch the queen’s lying-in-state in Westminster Hall on live video feeds, from numerous angles, the silence broken only by the occasional cry of a baby or cough of a guard. The faces came and went, including the queen’s grandchildren joining the tribute, but the camera’s vigil was constant.

After 70 years, however, television has lost its exclusive empire as well. Even as it broadcast what was described — plausibly but vaguely — as the most-watched event in history, traditional TV shared the funeral audience with the internet and social media.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/arts/television/queen-elizabeth-ii-funeral.html

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