I know for sure that they were shot on film, but that's where my facts stop. I'm wondering how they technically ended up in the television sets of the watchers in their original runs.

I'm talking about these related shows:

  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962)
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–1965)

At least in the latter series, at the half-way point, Hitchcock shows up saying that it's now time for a "station break". Does that mean that some central "server" had the single physical film roll which was transmitted to thousands of television stations all over the USA, live, and if they did not stop their "station break" content/ads in time, they would cut right into the middle of the second half of the show, with no way to "rewind" it for their local viewers?

Or, alternatively, did the creators of this show make thousands of physical copies of their original film roll and physically send these to each local TV station, which then had their own copy to broadcast, and thus were able to have any length of a "station break" (and arbitrary ads put in), and could just resume their own local film roll when they were ready?

Seems like the latter part would be very expensive? And if so, what happened to all those film rolls afterwards?

  • 2
    Interesting. Classic television is now far enough in the past that younger people have no idea how it worked. I know the answer, I’m just struggling with how to word it, because I feel like a fish trying to describe water. It’s like the entire concept of television has to be explained from scratch to answer this question. One note for now: “station breaks” continue to be a thing in broadcast TV, even if they don’t talk about it anymore. Radio works similarly. Mar 30, 2022 at 4:53
  • On YouTube you can watch most of the series "What's my line?" (1950-1967) In the early decade you will see the host make the statement "and now for a word from our (primary or secondary) sponsors", then the clip will break (not showing the commercial) and then return from the station break.
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 1, 2022 at 12:27


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