British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

UPITN – A Short History

United Press Movietone

The agreement between United Press and Fox-Movietone to shoot newsfilm for television stations was announced on July 13, 1948. United Press Movietone, or UPMT, was pioneering in providing a dedicated newsfilm service to television stations in the United States. UPMT introduced crucial innovations and procedures that became intrinsic to the business of motion picture newsgathering for television. UPMT grew steadily and became the first television news agency to operate on a truly international level with the BBC as its first European client.

United Press International Newsfilm

On 30 September 1963 UPI and Movietone divorced. After the split from Movietone, UPI set up a corporate entity; UPI-Newsfilm (UPIN) with headquarters in London and New York. UPIN took on staff cameramen around the world, very often former Movietone staff now on the UPI payroll. The client list continued to expand as stations around the world commenced broadcasting.

United Press International Television News

UPI, having broken away from Movietone, believed that it was essential that they teamed up with another major partner. The pressure to find a big client/partner increased when UPIN lost the BBC contract. ITN was the obvious choice and UPI joined with ITN to form United Press International Television News (UPITN) in June 1967. The company entered its most prolific decade. UPITN and Visnews were the two largest and most important television news agencies at the time. UPITN was at the forefront of international newsgathering and had a vast network of foreign bureaux around the world with film crews capturing images of the events and people that defined the era. UPI, however, was plagued by financial difficulties and embroiled in various scandals that had negative consequences for UPITN. In the early Eighties, UPI sold off its last shares of UPITN, and the company name was changed to Worldwide Television News (WTN) soon thereafter. In 1998 WTN was bought out by the Associated Press, to become Associated Press Television News.

Zuzana Zabkova