British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Empire News Bulletin

1926 - 1930
The Empire News Bulletin was a silent newsreel launched in May 1926 by British Pictorial Productions; it appeared every Monday and Thursday until July 1930, when it was superseded by a synchronised-sound newsreel called the Universal Talking News issued by the same company. The Empire News Bulletin afterwards survived only as the silent edition of the Universal Talking News, for cinemas which had not yet converted to sound. The two reels shared stories, in a close relationship which continued until January 1933 at least.

In May 1926 the novelist Gilbert Frankau was announced as the first ‘editor’ of the Empire News Bulletin, but he was simply a figurehead. Editorial policy was probably set by the reel’s founder, William Jeapes, but the effective editor was Cecil Snape, who appears to have been ‘news editor’. When the new Universal Talking News was launched in July 1930, this pattern was again followed, with Clifford Jeapes, the founder’s son, as ‘producer and editor’, and Snape in daily control as ‘news editor’.
The documentation consists of hand-written ledgers, covering the period until the release of Empire News Bulletin No 438 in July 1930. These ledgers were compiled for internal auditing purposes, and give a brief title for each story, a note of its length and its colour tinting or toning, plus details of the different versions of the reel in which it appeared, and how many copies were printed.

These ledgers record many different versions of the reel. There was no definitive edition of the Empire News Bulletin, as up to four different versions were produced: ‘Supers’ (around 500 feet), ‘Shorts’ or ‘Short Copies’ (around 350 feet), even shorter ‘N’ Copies’ (issued for only a few months in 1929), and the ‘Colonial’ compilation. These appeared at different prices, to cover the whole market from large first-run cinemas to small venues that could only afford short versions well after first release.

Films in this series can be obtained from:

Film Archive

Reuters Archive Licensing: Screen Ocean
+44(0)1954 262052
124 Horseferry Road,
British Pathe Ltd (qv) also handles the Reuters Historical Collection, which includes the British Paramount, Empire British, Gaumont Graphic and Gaumont British newsreels.
Series held
View all series held by Reuters Archive Licensing: Screen Ocean

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