An interview with Mrs Edna Everage a comic creation of performing artist Barry Humphries was one of the programmes screened on HSV-7 's first day of programming in The character went on to great success in the United Kingdom and later, the United States. Videotape technology was still in its infancy when Australian television was launched in and video recorders did not become widely available to Australian TV stations until the s. For the first few years, the only available method for capturing TV programs was the kinescope process, in which a fixed movie camera filmed broadcasts screened on a specially adjusted TV monitor.
Similarly, the playback of pre-recorded programs to air was only possible at this stage through the telecine process, in which films or kinescoped TV recordings were played back on a movie screen which was monitored by a TV camera. Because of these limitations, it was relatively difficult and expensive to record and distribute local programming, so the majority of locally produced content was broadcast live-to-air. Very little local programming from these first few years of Australian TV broadcasting was recorded and in the intervening years the majority of that material has since been lost or destroyed.
Even the footage of the 'first' Australian TV broadcast with Bruce Gyngell on Channel 9, Sydney see image above is a fabrication—according to Gerald Stone the kinescope film of the actual Sep. Most programs in this early period were based on popular radio formats—musical variety and quiz formats were the most popular. In the first decade after the first TV licences were granted, the federal government and the ABCB did not act to enforce local content quotas, and such measures were resisted by the commercial sector.
In this period nearly every TV drama screened in Australia came from the US and the few programs that were made locally were almost all produced by the ABC. These changes led to a significant concentration of cross-media ownership. In the view of some media historians, these arrangements established a pattern of "high-level political allegiances between commercial broadcasters and Liberal-National Party governments" and that, as a result, the ABCB "was left very weak and uncertain in its capacity to control broadcaster conduct and exhibited strong symptoms of regulatory capture , or over-identification with the industry it regulated".
The Vincent Report recommended a sweeping program of reforms but none were implemented by the Menzies Government at that time. The advent of TV effectively destroyed Australia's once thriving radio production industry within a few years, and the absence of local production quotas for TV in this formative period compounded the problem. Faced with almost unbeatable competition from American-made programming, local technical and creative professionals in radio were unable to make the transition to the new medium, as many of their American and British counterparts had done when TV was introduced there.
Those Australian producers who did try to break into TV faced almost insurmountable challenges. Imported American and British programs benefited from high budgets, an international talent pool and huge economies of scale, thanks to their very large domestic markets relative to Australia , established worldwide distribution networks; additionally, since most American production houses and networks were based in Los Angeles, they had access to resources and expertise built up over decades by the Hollywood movie studios.
These disadvantages were further exacerbated by the fact that American producers and networks offered Australian channels significant discount rates on bundled programming. Taken as a whole, these factors meant that local producers were faced with a relative production-cost ratio on the order of or more in favour of the imported product. Some sense of the scale of this "resource gap" can be gained by comparing the budgets of contemporary American and Australian TV programs.
Broadcast times were gradually increased over succeeding decades, although the ABC did not commence hour broadcasting until Local content was limited to talk and variety shows, and news and current affairs. Several programs in the s were simply adaptations of already established radio programs, such as Pick a Box. The s saw the continued growth of television in Australia, particularly into regional areas. While the first television services were being established in regional areas, larger cities including Melbourne , Sydney , Brisbane , Adelaide , and Perth began to receive their second and, in the mids, third stations.
In order to reduce costs, networks began to merge — originally in between HSV-7 and TCN-9 , but later between almost all the metropolitan stations of a certain frequency. Not all stations became a part of their respective networks — TVW-7 in Perth remained independent for a number of years as the sole commercial station in the city. Beginning in , the federal government tried to address concerns about competition and local production by licensing a third station in major cities, beginning with Channel 0 in Melbourne and Channel 10 in Sydney.
More third-licence stations were established in other capitals and regional cities [ citation needed ] over the next few years and by the late Sixties these stations joined forces to create Australia's third commercial network, originally known as the Independent Television System ITS , then later changed to the 0—10 Network, and now called Network Channel 0 in Melbourne took an early lead in catering for teenage viewers and quickly became the preeminent network in pop music programming, commissioning a sequence of popular and influential local pop shows including The Go!!
Show and Kommotion —67 , Uptight —70 and Happening '70 and its successors — The establishment of the Sydney—Melbourne co-axial cable link between Sydney and Melbourne in marked the first step in the establishment of effective national networking for Australian TV stations. The cable supported the simultaneous live broadcast of the 5th test of the —63 Ashes series to Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne — a major milestone in Australian television history.
The introduction of satellite broadcasting in the late s allowed news stories and programs to be accessed from around the world. The first live satellite transmission occurred between Australia and the United Kingdom in Prime Minister Harold Holt officially opened the Australian pavilion and visitors watched events including boomerang throwing, sheep-dog trials, wood chopping contests and tennis matches with members of the Australian Davis Cup team.
The entire hour program was televised live and several hundred thousand people across Australia sat up through the night to watch it. One newspaper reported that the picture was so clear that hundreds of viewers rang a Sydney television station to seek assurance that the pictures really were being broadcast live from Canada. Two weeks later, on 25 June , Australia participated in the historic "Our World" broadcast, the first live global satellite television hookup involving fourteen countries.
Australia's contribution showed a Melbourne tram leaving the depot for its early morning run, which caused some controversy as people felt that it was not a very exciting image of Australia. Even though the dominance of imported American and British programming continued, local production gradually increased in the s and several important new Australian programs were launched. Although Australian TV was still in black-and-white at the time, Skippy was filmed in colour with a view to overseas sales and it was the first Australian-made series to achieve significant international success, with sales to more than 80 countries worldwide,  and it became the first Australian TV show to be widely screened in the USA.
Numerous television stations were launched, mainly concentrated around southern and eastern parts of the country. Although the output was hobbled to monochrome until , many original long and short form productions were completed over the years until its closure and eventual absorption into other companies in the late s. Test broadcasting of colour began in the late s.
Following the new medium's establishment in most major metropolitan and regional centres, television continued to expand to remote areas, most notably those in the northern and western parts of Australia — Darwin , for example, did not receive television until ABD-6 and NTD-8 launched in In it was announced that all stations would move to colour on 1 March , using the European PAL standard mandated in Government subsidies provided for the production of local series led to a boom in Australian-produced content.
Later hospital drama The Young Doctors ran for episodes between and , becoming at the time it ended Australia's longest running drama series. Graham Kennedy returned to the Nine Network after his departure from In Melbourne Tonight with The Graham Kennedy Show in , but was banned from appearing from television in after an infamous 'crow-call' incident. In , commercial stations were mandated to provide 'C'-classified programming targeted at children between pm, and a minimum of 30 minutes of pre-school programming prior to that.
These regulations saw the establishment of a number of children's series including Simon Townsend's Wonder World and Shirl's Neighbourhood. News and current affairs, particularly on commercial television, grew significantly — the Nine Network 's A Current Affair , hosted by Mike Willesee began in November , while 60 Minutes , on the same network, began in Sports broadcasting became increasingly sophisticated through the s. ABC , the Seven Network and the Nine Network joined together to broadcast the Olympic Games in Montreal , with the opening and closing ceremonies telecast live, and highlights packages shown each night.
The Special Broadcasting Service , originally a group of radio stations broadcasting government information to ethnic minorities in Sydney and Melbourne, began test transmissions on ABC in the two cities — mainly showing foreign-language programming on Sunday mornings. The new station, aimed at Australia's growing multicultural population, placed a much heavier emphasis on subtitled or foreign-language content. It is now available in most areas. Although Australia had seen the introduction of the satellite in the s, saw the introduction of a new, domestic satellite called AUSSAT.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other commercial broadcasters were able to broadcast to the more remote areas of Australia without needing to set up a new station, and by the end of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation were broadcasting both television and radio to remote areas of Australia. The newly relaunched Network 10, with Rupert Murdoch controlling the flagship stations TEN and ATV , aggressively challenged the long-held dominance of the Seven and Nine networks with the commissioning of several large-budget mini-series, many produced by the Kennedy-Miller partnership; the expansion of news and current affairs coverage; securing the exclusive Australian television rights to the and Summer Olympic Games ; and a strong line-up of Hollywood blockbuster movies and mini-series.
In a two-hour experiment was conducted, in which the Seven Network televised a series of 3D films. The show's storylines concern the domestic and professional lives of the people who live and work in the fictional suburb of Erinsborough , Melbourne. Seven decided to commission the show following the success of Watson's other soap opera, Sons and Daughters. Neighbours underperformed in the Sydney market and it struggled for four months before Seven cancelled it.
The show was immediately bought by rival network, Ten. Ten began screening Neighbours on 20 January Neighbours has since become the longest running series in Australian television and attained great success in the United Kingdom and launched the careers of several international stars, including Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce. It premiered in January and is the second longest-running drama on Australian television, winning more than 30 Logie Awards.
The late s saw the ownership changeover for many commercial and regional stations. Six main ownership groups emerged, three for commercial broadcasters and three for regional broadcasters  This was the beginning of aggregation for Australian television. The s saw a boom in Australian-made drama, which included Halifax f.
Hey Hey It's Saturday ended its year run in November One of the most significant developments in terms of high quality Australian programming was the establishment by the Federal Government of the Commercial Television Production Fund. One of the most significant changes for regional television in Australia began in the s with the introduction of aggregation. Instead of being covered by a single commercial channel, regional license areas would combine to provide two or three stations in line with metropolitan areas.
As a result, most regional areas went from one to three channels, although some, particularly outside eastern states New South Wales , Victoria and Queensland , remained with two or even only one commercial station. The first license area to aggregate was that of southern New South Wales, on 31 March , followed by Queensland on 31 December , northern New South Wales on 31 December , Victoria on 1 January and Tasmania in two stations only. Some areas too small to be properly aggregated, such as Darwin , Mildura or rural South Australia, however, either applied for a second license or introduced a supplementary second service run by the existing local station.
The stations, which all broadcast on channel 31, were allocated long-term temporary licences until new legislation introduced in permitted permanent licences to be granted. Briz 31 was the first community television station to launch in Australia, on 31 July C31 Melbourne and Access 31 in Perth followed in and respectively, along with a number of other stations in some capital and regional cities.
The most recent to launch was Sydney's TVS. During the s the first subscription television services were introduced to Australia. The first license was issued to Galaxy Television , which started in , providing services to most metropolitan areas by Subscription television allowed customers to have access to more channels. The advent of pay television in Australia resulted in the Super League war which was fought in and out of court during the mids by the News Ltd -backed Super League and Kerry Packer -backed Australian Rugby League organisations over broadcasting rights, and ultimately control of the top-level professional rugby league football competition of Australasia.
Galaxy folded in and was subsequently absorbed by Foxtel. The Summer Olympics resulted in huge ratings for its broadcaster the event was hosted in Sydney for the Seven Network — over 6. The broadcast also ran on the short-lived C7 Sport subscription channel. The turn of the millennium introduced digital television to Australia , as well as the transition to widescreen standard-definition and high-definition television production.
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Community stations also began to receive permanent transmitter licences, replacing temporary licences that were renewed yearly. At this time it was thought that allowing Commercial Multicasting would be detrimental so the publicly owned networks ABC and SBS were the only networks that were allowed to create new digital SD Channels.
This was only revised after Digital Television Uptake was not as high as expected in many areas, and from 1 January , Network 10, Nine and Seven were allowed to create alternative SD channels. Australian content on subscription television also grew, with shows such as the Logie Award winning Love My Way. Amongst the new digital 'multichannels', one of the earliest was the SBS World News Channel in , providing news bulletins in languages other than English. In Tasmanian Digital Television launched, providing Tasmanian viewers a third commercial station, and nationally available stations Fly TV and the ABC Kids launched, later to be eventually shut down due to funding issues and replaced in by ABC2.
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Sydney also began testing datacasting transmissions with Digital 44 in While digital television boomed in areas that received a third channel and with the subscription television services, growth in other areas has been slow, with analogue shut-down dates pushed back several times. A number of new community stations were also opened, including C31 Adelaide in April and Television Sydney in February In October , Network 10 announced that the morning show entitled Good Morning Australia would be cancelled at the end of the year, after a year run.
Although Bert Newton was offered ongoing employment at Network 10 , he joined the Nine Network to host the short-lived game show Bert's Family Feud , until 23 May when the program was axed. The Nine Network, the traditional ratings leader, suffered ratings losses by the mids, losing out to the Seven Network, which became the most popular Australian network by early , thanks to its "Seven in '07" campaign. Although Ten HD was initially expected to be the first new commercial television channel in metropolitan areas of Australia since , it was instead beaten to the punch by 7HD.
Following the announcement by the Ten Network, Network Seven also announced its previously hidden plans to launch a dedicated HD channel on 15 September and pushed the launch date forward to 10 October. The Nine Network's move to a HD channel was considered sluggish by industry insiders, taking until March ABC3, unlike commercial channels, is not constrained by local content quotas. The government funded stations, ABC and SBS, received increased funding in the closing stages of the s to enable them to make the transition to digital TV. Meanwhile, the community station C31 received no government assistance or funding to make the transition; this still remains a source of controversy.
Other issues were noted such as the increased cost of producing local content on commercial networks. The cost disparity has led many to question the viability of commercial networks in the future of delivering and investing in locally produced content and has also brought their financial arrangements with business and industry groups into question. Meanwhile, ABC and SBS quickly began producing very successful local content with shows such as Review , Lawrence Leung's Choose Your Own Adventure , Hungry Beast and many more publicly funded local programs, produced in Australia, with Australian cast and crews, adding to the increasing health of Australian film and television industries.
On 19 August , the Seven Network announced their third digital channel, 7mate , which replaced 7HD. GEM is targeted at middle-aged women. The new channel, Eleven , is aimed at a youth audience and carries flagship TEN programming including Neighbours. Eleven launched on 11 January In , the Seven Network created history by winning all 40 weeks of a television ratings season for the first time since OzTAM was established in On 10 December , the analogue TV shutdown completed all around Australia.
On 19 August , then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a bill retracting the legal obligation for broadcasters to broadcast their primary channel in standard definition. On 29 August , Racing. In October , the Nine Network announced their fourth digital channel, 9Life. Launching on 26 November, 9Life is a dedicated lifestyle and reality channel on Channel Around the same time, 9HD was relaunched on Channel On 28 February , the Seven Network launched a fifth digital channel, 7flix , which is a dedicated movie and entertainment channel on Channel On 16 December of the same year, it was relaunched on the same channel in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
Television broadcasting in Australia is available in a colour digital format, via a range of means including terrestrial television , satellite television as well as a number of cable services.
Both free-to-air and subscription channels and networks are available. The analogue network has been phased out, with the last service being switched off in December In most areas there is a choice of three free-to-air commercial broadcasters as well as two national public broadcasters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Special Broadcasting Service. A third, recently established, National Indigenous Television service is available in many remote areas.
Regional television in Australia consists of independently owned networks 'affiliated' to metropolitan stations. In two broadcaster markets, the two incumbent commercial broadcasters applied for and were granted a third, digital -only license, while in single broadcaster markets, the incumbent commercial broadcaster was granted a second, and later a third license, to provide additional programming. Most operators provide the same or similar channels. There are few genuine local channels and few independent channels.
Community television progressively launched between the s to the s. The sector is represented nationally by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. Cable television has been available in Australia since the early s, with Galaxy TV being the first. It became insolvent in , due to decreasing popularity after the launch of Foxtel and Austar in May , two cable services that offered more variety than Galaxy TV. Foxtel commenced by supplying programs to Galaxy's subscribers on an interim basis. In Foxtel was able to significantly boost its customer base by acquiring Galaxy TV's subscribers from the Australis Media liquidator and commenced offering its services on a satellite television platform.
There is currently one major subscription television provider in Australia, Foxtel. Foxtel bought Austar in and has now completed the merger of its operations. In the capital cities, cable is the more predominant form of pay television distribution. In regional areas or in new or outskirted areas of cities, satellite is far more common. Due to its history, financial backing and market dominance, most local versions of channels are either owned directly by Foxtel or through related companies.
Optus 's network covers small parts of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, though its restrictive subscription rules means that many people living in apartments or confined living areas may be unable to be connected. Austar now Foxtel is available by satellite in most of regional and rural Australia, but does have a small cable network in the city of Darwin. TransACT is only available in Canberra , where a custom cable network was developed. A similar situation used to exist in Perth where a small area was covered by Bright Telecommunications however they closed down after lack of funding as well in parts of Geelong , Ballarat and Mildura that are reached by Neighbourhood Cable.
Satellite television in Australia has proven to be a far more feasible option than cable television, perhaps due to the vast distances between population centres, although Canada, which also has large distances between population centres, has a relatively high cable television penetration rate. The first service to come online in Australia was Galaxy , which was later taken over by cable television giant Foxtel , which now operates both cable and satellite services to all state capital cities except Darwin and Hobart and the whole of Western Australia.
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Its main metropolitan rival was Optus Vision , while rural areas are served by Austar , both of which just rebroadcast Foxtel as of In SelecTV began operating, aiming at providing comparatively low cost packages and catering to specialised market segments. Australia has produced numerous notable television series and miniseries, with the most prominent programs coming from the comedy, police, and medical drama genres.
One of the earliest Australian police drama series was Homicide , produced in Melbourne by Crawford Productions , widely viewed as having revolutionised Australian television drama production. It was followed by Division 4 and Matlock Police , which also enjoyed great popularity and long runs both locally and overseas. Australian soap opera success began with Bellbird in which was a moderate but consistent success. Following this the huge success of Number 96 in prompted creation of the similar The Box in These serials were all cancelled in This later group were also screened internationally, finding particular success in the United Kingdom.
The scheduling for each network is quite diverse: while the Seven Network , Nine Network , and affiliates have an hour of news and current affairs at 6. The primetime slot in Australia runs from 6. Many programs shown in these times on commercial networks are taken from American television, while ABC has a mixture of Australian and British productions.
SBS , as a multicultural broadcaster, shows a range of programs produced locally and overseas in a number of languages. Imported programming has typically been shown months after its debut in the United States or the United Kingdom, however in recent times networks have begun to air programs within hours or days of their overseas counterparts.
Seven and Nine and have rival breakfast shows that run from 5. Most scheduling is consistent across Australia's three timezones — this means that South Australia and the Northern Territory sees programming half an hour behind Australian Eastern Standard Time , while in Western Australia programs are seen two hours behind. Consequently, many national news bulletins shown live to eastern states are seen on considerable delay in Western Australia with the notable exception of The Midday Report , of which a second edition is produced for WA.
The time delay can often deny viewers in central and western areas the opportunity to participate in interactive shows such as Big Brother. One exception to this rule are subscription channels, which always run on Australian Eastern Standard Time regardless of the local service or timezone. The recent introduction of timeshift channels delayed two hours for all viewers, particularly on Foxtel , allowed WA viewers to see programs in sync with other states. Although, ABC News 24 are live across the nation with no delay.
This is the only free-to-air television channel to do this. Higher ratings for earlier bulletins from commercial broadcasters including the Seven Network and Nine Network have prompted fierce ratings competition. In Australia, there are two local 24 hour news channels. ABC News is available on digital channel The subscription based television channel draws on the resources of its shareholders news services, using content from Seven News, Nine News and Sky News from the United Kingdom, as well as reporters based in Sydney, Canberra , and Melbourne. A number of regional television networks produce news services.
NBN Television is the only regional broadcaster to produce a bulletin on both weeknights and weekends, in an hour-long format presented from Newcastle and seen across northern New South Wales. Current affairs programming is shown in a broad range of formats, ranging between tabloid -style current affairs shows to investigative programs such as Four Corners. ABC has had a long history of producing current affairs programs, including the award-winning This Day Tonight , the first regular current affairs program to be shown on Australian television and a training ground for many of Australia's best-known journalists.
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