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1950: Radio Times hits Christmas deadline

VIDEO : The Radio Times printed in time for Christmas

The Christmas edition of the Radio Times will be out in time for families to plan their festive viewing and listening - despite recent publishing difficulties.

An industrial dispute, which disrupted production of the country's most popular magazine and other publications for several weeks of the autumn, has finally been settled.

One newspaper report said the dispute had cost the BBC 65,000 in lost sales.

The Christmas edition of the Radio Times is traditionally its biggest-selling issue. Sales are expected to exceed the weekly average of eight million copies.

Last year the BBC made 1,039,464 from its publications, most of it from the Radio Times.

Cancelled

The dispute was called by London Master Printers and the London Society of Compositors over pay and working conditions. They were demanding a weekly wage of 8.

The weekly edition of the Radio Times failed to appear first on 8 September. The following week an emergency 20-page version of the magazine was printed.

Over the course of the next couple of months several more editions were cancelled, or printed in a shorter form.

Some research was made into getting printing plates for the Radio Times made up in France. But the printers made it clear they would not handle the foreign plates.

Agreement was eventually reached in November to pay printers a minimum weekly wage of 7 15s, linked to a cost of living index.

New terms were also agreed for taking on apprentice compositors. From now on, their numbers will be linked to the degree of unemployment among compositors.

The 1950 Christmas Radio Times features an illustration of the nativity scene by Walter Hodges on the front cover and inside a picture of the King George VI reading his Christmas message.

It will be despatched ready for sale in the shops this coming Friday (22 December).

In Context
The Radio Times has been published since 1923. In its 80-year history the magazine has only failed to appear 11 times - four of those were during the printing dispute of 1950.

In the 1950s the magazine was selling around eight million copies a week and claimed to be the world's biggest-selling magazine.

Its highest-ever sales figure was achieved for the Christmas edition of 1988 which sold over 11 million copies.

Following the de-regulation of the market, which allowed other magazines to include listings for all tv and radio programmes, sales have dropped. The Christmas 2002 Radio Times sold just under three million copies.

The printing process is now entirely digital. The power the print unions wielded over the newspaper industry was broken by Rupert Murdoch during the Wapping dispute in 1986.


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