Shortly before the first television broadcast, many people thought that way. It seemed too much for them that all singers, the orchestras and speakers could actually be seen. It was more than impossible to imagine that radio soap operas would ever be watched – in real time, and paradoxically, as the rudimentary technology of those early days demanded.
Although, it seemed a Jules Verne science fiction story, on October 24, 1950, Cuba aired it first television broadcast, through Channel 4 of Union Radio Television, owned by Gaspar Pumarejo, a pioneer of our first wireless audiovisual success. From then on, we entered the list of the first countries of Latin American and the world, to use this novel media tool.
We must always resort to names that were essential in this process, first of all Julio Vega, life partner of the actress, singer and announcer Maria de los Angeles Santana. During a visit to New York, Julio was so infatuated with what he witnessed in “the city of skyscrapers”, then, once in Havana, he began to touch hearts, wills and, of course, to raise attention, so that this media would reach our island.
Right after the first channel was established, important figures such as Amado Trinidad, Goar Mestre and Pumarejo, began to compete among them, which led to the evolution and consolidation of the Cuban Television.
Every musical, humorous and dramatized program from those early times is well remembered. Cuban artists – war of nerves included – exceeded all expectations and our television products stood out for their undeniable professionalism. Back then, we did not even count with the video-tape of the 80s. Everything had to be done “live”, in constant defiance of an unstoppable clock that knew no delays or advances. Soap operas – even those of the 1960s – were broadcasted in real time, which meant that the actors had to be present, “against all odds”, regardless of any physical or emotional ailment.
The first decades of our television represented a total litmus test. It required acting against time, and above all, achieving good results. We were unable to enjoy some transcendental moments, which, were left for posterity thanks to rudimentary filming on 16-millimeter tapes, due to the technological limitations of the audiovisual recording.
Much has changed since then. Very sophisticated “telereceptors”, with an image quality never dreamed of before, have become widely available nowadays. The screens have become wider and wider, and today we have all our transmissions in color, several of them in high definition.
The digitalization process, in spite of economic inconveniences, continues to move forward. At the same time, our television products are growing in quantity and quality, although there are still enormous challenges, we can have a domestic audiovisual media that is more and more in line with our people demands.
Although there is still much to go, evolve, and improve, Cuban Television – as well as our Radio – portrays Cuba itself. It has been a witness of every historical, artistic, cultural and sporting event; it is our history made images and sounds. New technologies are emerging and the human capital in charge has shown has an unlimited talent. They are the continuity of a commitment made to the Cuban identity.
They, as guardians of a proud heritage, deserve sincere and grateful congratulations on the seventy-first anniversary of the birth of Cuban Television.