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Colleagues: Richard S. Clark – UPMT

Richard Skrede Clark was born May 30th, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois.  He gained a BA degree, in 1937, from the University of Michigan in History and Political Science.

Between 1937 and 1940, he was a credit investigator, a travelling salesman and the editor of a weekly paper.

In August 1940, he joined United Press based in Chicago and Indianapolis where he worked as a reporter and sub-editor. From August 1941 to December 1945, he was enlisted in the U.S. Army rising from Private Soldier to 1st Lieutenant in the Infantry.

He told the story himself:

“In January, 1945, Uncle Sam gave me a free ride to England aboard the Queen Mary that now sits in Long Beach. As a replacement platoon leader, I had a cabin on Main Deck, M-91, which I shared with 17 others. At the end of the war, I switched from an infantry platoon to public relations.

Near War’s end, I was pulled out of the line and given a Jeep, a driver and a Kentucky hillbilly, Congressional Medal of Honor winner, from a sister battalion. The Brass had discovered I was a journalist and they wanted publicity for their Kansas/Nebraska National Guard Division. They also gave me two barracks bags full of cigarettes (worth $100 a carton on the black market) and told me to find the American correspondents back in Paris.

Getting publicity for the hillbilly’s story was easy. The day before we got back to Germany, he and General Eisenhower shared the front cover of Yank, the military magazine. A week later I was recalled by Division and given a Jeep, driver, hillbilly and two more bags of cigarettes.

The night before the 35th Division sailed for New York, I transferred to Army Headquarters in Paris so I could stay in Europe

Four months later, the United Press pried me out of the army and assigned me to the Nuremberg Trials”.

At the Nuremberg Trials, his fellow member of the United Press team was Walter Cronkite (see picture at top of article – Dick Clark second from right). Between 1945 and 1947, Clark was reporter, writer and sub-editor first, at the trials, then in Frankfurt and London.

In 1947, he became Manager for Eastern Europe, United Press and, based in Prague, he handled news coverage from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Rumania. He also reported on the show trial of László Rajk and seven others in September 1949 in the marbled hall of the Iron and Metal Workers’ Union in Budapest, Hungary. Rajk was accusing of being a “Titoist Spy”.

He also handled sales in Czechoslovakia and Poland.

As he said:

Later, I hit Prague where the main story was the Communist coup d’etat and the front seat in the Cold War.

In 1949, he became the United Press Diplomatic Correspondent in London.

The following year he became Editor of European News Services, United Press International in London, handling direction of news coverage and distribution for UPI clients in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

On April 30th, 1955, Dick Clark became European Editor of United Press Movietone Television and, later, United Press International Newsfilm.  He was responsible for directing news coverage from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and for the supply of the world newsfilm services to clients in this area. He was a pioneer in the business of supplying newsfilm to the television broadcasters of the world.  With little history of previous attempts to call upon, and fewer success stories, he set out to create a world-wide distribution agency.  He sought information from every quarter in his ambition to provide his clients with what they wanted, even if they were not quite sure what that was at the time.

The UPMT organisation formed by United Press and British Movietonews was based in London and was set up after a similar arrangement had taken place between UPI and Fox-Movietone in New York.

Dick Clark and his small band of journalists set up office with United Press in their offices in Bouverie Street, London.  In the meantime, Movietonews were based in Soho Square. The first customer for the service was the British Broadcasting Corporation.

On his original staff were Ian Fawcett, Kenneth Warr and George Carey.  Later they were joined by Martin Bishop and Kenneth Coyte.  It was their function to research stories and provide written material to assist the clients in writing the final commentary for each story.

In a short time, most of the world’s broadcasters (of that time) were signed up as clients.

In December 1961, the combined forces that comprised UPMT moved to Denham.

Dick and I, together with one or two others, would play golf once a week, teeing off as soon as the local course was open. After a few holes we would go in to work.  Dick was a scratch player and a member of Temple golf Club at Maidenhead.  I never stood a chance against him.

In 1963, Movietonews parted company with United Press and Dick Clark was obliged to make new arrangements to gather newsfilm in 16mm, although United Press International Newsfilm, UPIN, as it now was, still received material from Movietonews.  In 1964, Dick Clark asked me to move from Movietone to UPIN and I did.  He knew that I had worked in television broadcast stations and he thought that experience was valuable to him and his service.

In 1965, the BBC contract ran out and was not renewed.  This required that UPIN should seek an alternative, important, broadcaster with which they could work.

It took a long time and considerable negotiation before UPI settled on an agreement with Independent Television News.  Together they formed UPITN.

As Dick Clark wrote in 1969:

This involved editorial direction, selection of key personnel, cost control on newsfilm and documentary coverage, sales and client relations, development of new techniques to improve communications through film and newsfilm.

He was set a considerable task.  He brought the contrasting styles of UPI and ITN together to form a cohesive unit providing a newsfilm service to the world.

When he had achieved all this, he was fired.

In my opinion, his departure had been planned for, at least, a year.  It was the result of unbelievable treachery on the part of people that he had introduced to the industry and taught them what skills were required to succeed.

Some day, I might write about the whole affair.  It is a story that would be rejected if it were to be offered up as fiction.

When Dick Clark was faced with a bleak future, he was able to do two things.  First he got himself a job with CBS News in London.  He became European Syndication Manager concerned with the international gathering and distribution of newsfilm.

At the same time, he had an idea.  Dick Clark always had ideas, some barmy, some not, but new ideas all the same.  His big idea for 1969 was the founding of an organisation called Television Co-ordination Service.  This was to become The Telco Report.

In 1969, the world’s television services had expanded as well as the number of production companies serving them.  What was absent was any means by which producers could offer their wares to broadcasters, other than by a laborious client by client approach, or for broadcasters to find the source of broadcast material.

Dick’s plan was to canvass both producers, wherever he could find them, and broadcasters around the world.  From each he required to know what productions they had completed or intended to produce in the future.  He would judge those programmes that he thought would be suitable for sale and he would publish details, of his chosen productions.

He did not accept money from either the producers (vendors) or the purchasers of programmes.

He sold his publication to both broadcasters and producers.  The fee was variable according to the customers ability to pay.  This allowed everyone from a “one-man band” to a large corporation to make use of the information.  This is how The Telco Report editors have told the story.

For more than 40 years THE TELCO REPORT has strived to provide the latest program information to the world’s television markets. According to founder Richard Clark, a former CBS executive in London, the birth of TELCO was inevitable in 1969 given the growing number of TV stations and production companies.  Said Clark, “People were expanding their coverage and needed raw material. But they had no device, no means to find out how to obtain it. There was such a lack of communication then. I thought if these companies could read some sort of publication each week, with a rundown of who was doing what and what was being produced, it would be invaluable.” Clark revealed that the three “godfathers” of THE TELCO REPORT were the BBC’s Paul Fox, Karel Enkelaar of NOS in Holland and the late Desmond Taylor of the BBC. “They believed in my idea and supported it by buying the first subscriptions.”  Clark rented office space in the Rank Lab at Denham, outside London and the first issue of THE TELCO REPORT was dated April  18, 1969, carrying the title Television Coordination Services. That first issue included a report by Visnews on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the League of Nations. Other first page entries included a Middle East political series by Hessischer Rundfunk and a BBC series on the discovery and settlement by Europeans of the world.

Dick set up office at Denham, in the Rank Laboratories building where we had been based for some years.  He engaged Dorli Davies to act as secretary and typist as well as being the only permanent staff. It was she who typed up the finished article for publication.

For some time, I did editorial work for Dick.  I devised the catalogue numbering system whereby, an enquirer, by quoting the number, would enable Dick to find, quickly, the original entry in the report.  I would also go through lists of productions, select those suitable and do a six line write up for the publication.

The Telco Report is still published.

In 1982, he retired and moved, with his wife Joy, to California to a place called Leisure World sited in Laguna Hills.

In 1984, while working on the Olympics in Los Angeles, I stayed with them.  From their balcony, there was a wonderful view of the mountains inland, sometimes obscured by smog. We went out on a picnic through country often featured in John Wayne movies.

I was expecting a posse to pass by at any time.

We corresponded until the time of his death, at the age of 92, in May 2007.  At no time between 1968 and his death did he mention his dismissal from UPITN.  He was a gentleman and a scholar.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For more articles in the Colleagues series click here.

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