CBC Digital Archives

Our World: Five continents linked via satellite

He was a man of idioms and idiosyncrasies, deeply intelligent and a soothsayer. He had prescient knowledge of the Internet. Although educated in literature, Marshall McLuhan was known as a pop philosopher because his theories applied to mini-skirts and the twist. For his ability to keep up with the cutting edge, one colleague called him "The Runner." Critics said he destroyed literary values. Today, McLuhan's ideas are new again, applied to the electronic media that he predicted.

media clip
It's a brave new world for TV, and the CBC is at the forefront. The Canadian broadcaster is part of Our World, the first global broadcast via satellite. As the clock counts down to the broadcast's launch, communications sage Marshall McLuhan is on hand to remark on its significance. Our World then takes viewers to scenes from a New Jersey media circus, an Alberta ranch, a Vancouver beach, the Tokyo subway and a Melbourne tram yard. 
• This clip is just a short segment from Our World. The original broadcast was two and a half hours long.
• Planning for Our World took ten months. The broadcast was coordinated by the European Broadcasting Union, and master control was at the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.
• Among the show's ground rules was that no politicians or heads of state be involved. All material was to be presented live, not pre-recorded.

• Four days before the broadcast, five of the 19 member countries involved dropped out. The Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries -- Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and East Germany -- were protesting the West's response to the Six-Day War in the Middle East.
• The CBC Times program guide of June 24-30, 1967, predicted the program would be beamed to the largest audience in history: 700 million people in 31 countries. Other estimates put it at closer to 400 million.

• The Beatles wrote and performed their song All You Need is Love especially for Our World. "That took 90 phone calls, to get the bloody Beatles to participate," project head Aubrey Singer told Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine in 1996. "They were just so obdurate. Is that the word I want? They didn't feel it was important to them. Thank God we got 'em, because we needed something like that to lift the whole thing."

• The project was a technical marvel. Besides coordinating its transmission among four satellites (three after the Soviets pulled out), organizers had to plan for telephone circuits for the 42 field sites and translators in each country.
• Some 10,000 technicians and producers around the world worked on the broadcast.


• The first ever satellite TV transmission was in July 1962 using the satellite Telstar. Images of U.S. Vice President Lyndon Johnson were beamed to receiving stations in Britain and France.

• Reviews for Our World were mixed. Critics called it a "technological tour de force" and a "fascinating television happening" that "deserved a bit more evidence of CBC excitement than it got." Others were less effusive, calling it a "programming potpourri" that was "less than epoch-making" and "lacking in style and sustained interest." Dennis Braithwaite of the Globe and Mail scorned McLuhan for "speaking that superficial but impenetrable jargon he has invented."
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television Special
Broadcast Date: June 25, 1967
Guest(s): Marshall McLuhan
Host: Stanley Burke
Reporter: Bob Switzer, Mike Winlaw, Brian King, Dick McCutcheon
Duration: 18:13

Last updated: June 26, 2012

Page consulted on July 2, 2014

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