I think I may have found the source of the YELLOW SUBMARINE "made for TV" info. This website
contains the following quote:
Why would they go to the trouble of restoring the whole thing from the ground up and then release it with 20% of their, (not to mention the original artists’ and animators’), work not ending up on the screen? OK, it says all over the DVD packaging that it’s a re-release of the original theatrical version, and it is. More or less. What it doesn’t say is that the original theatre release was also a 20% smaller picture than was originally intended for public consumption. The reason? It was originally shot for TV in the TV aspect ratio which, like it or not, is proportionally a bigger picture than cinema widescreen. So, when the decision came to launch the film on movie screens instead, the filmmakers had three options: They could ‘stretch’ the picture from the sides, and squash it from the top and bottom, to fit the screen. The problem here is that everything would look ‘short and fat’. They could screen the movie in it’s 4.3 format, leaving black bars at either side. Here the audience wouldn’t get the movie experience. It would feel like watching a regular TV if the picture didn’t fill the entire screen. They could ‘zoom in’ on the original picture until it filled the required aspect ratio and discard the redundant detail at the top and bottom of the picture. It’s a tough one to call but the industry standard in this rare situation was option three, so the film went on public release with the top and bottom 10% of the picture missing. It doesn't say anywhere that the 1999 VHS release is the 4:3 fullscreen version either, but it is!
I can't find any mention elsewhere of the film ever being originally animated for TV. In fact, every other source I've read, including the fascinating book "Inside the Yellow Submarine" by Robert Hieronimus always mention the project as a theatrical endeavor. The confusion by the above webmaster may stem from the fact that producer Al Brodax was responsible for the Beatles animated TV series. The preponderance of the evidence points to YELLOW SUBMARINE always having been produced for theatrical exhibition and, therefore, its intended AR not
being 1.33:1. I am certainly no expert in such matters and would welcome any information that clarifies the situation.