Television in Australia

Television in Australia

Television in Australia began as early as 1934 in Brisbane with experimental transmissions by amateur station VK4CM.cite web
title = Birth of Our Nation
publisher = Brisbane Courier Mail
url =

Mainstream professional television was launched on the 16 September 1956 in Sydney and has since grown to cover the entire country. Local programming, over the years, has included a broad range comedy, sport, and in particular drama series, in addition to news and current affairs. The industry is regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The new medium was introduced by Bruce Gyngell with the words 'Good evening, and welcome to television',cite web| title = Australia celebrates 50 years of television| publisher = News Limited| url =,23663,20357015-5007183,00.html| date = 2006-09-05| accessdate = 2007-08-01] and has since seen the introduction of colour, as well as the impending changeover to digital television, set to take place 2012. [cite press release |title=Ready, Set, Go to Digital – A Digital Action Plan for Australia |publisher=DCITA |date=2008-11-23 |url=,_set,_go_to_digital__a_digital_action_plan_for_australia |accessdate=2007-08-19]



A Television broadcast transmission was made in Australia in 1934. The test transmissions, the first in Australia took place in Brisbane. TV test transmissions were made from the Tower Mill in Brisbane to a site in Ipswich and picked up on a receiver there. cite web
title = The History of Australian Television - The Fifties
publisher =
url =
year = 2006
accessdate = 2007-07-24
] Fact|date=January 2008

Other experimental transmissions followed in various cities.

In 1954, the Menzies Government announced the introduction of one government-funded service and two commercial services in Sydney and Melbourne. A TV series The Adventures of Long John Silver was made in the Pagewood Studios, Sydney for the American and British market; it was shown on the ABC in 1958.

The 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne was a major driving force behind the introduction of television to Australia.citation
title = Australian Television: the first 24 years
publisher = Nelsen/Cinema Papers
year = 1980
page = 3
location = Melbourne
accessdate = 2007-09-23
] TCN-9 Sydney began test transmissions on 16 September of that year, and officially commenced broadcasting on 27 October.cite web | title = Birth of a notion | publisher = The Sydney Morning Herald | url = | date = 2006-09-11 | accessdate = 2007-09-23] GTV-9 became the first television station to broadcast to viewers in Melbourne on 27 September, and was soon followed by HSV-7 and ABV-2, with Sydney station ABN-2 soon after. All of these stations were operational in time for the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics opening ceremony, on 22 November 1956.cite web | title = Linking a Nation: Australia's Transport and Communications | publisher = Australian Heritage Council | url = | year = 2003 | accessdate = 2007-09-23]

These initial licenses were regulated by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, a government agency responsible for the regulatory side of television licensing (engineering was handled by the Postmaster-General's Department).

At this time it was relatively difficult to record and distribute local programming, meaning the majority of content was produced locally and shown live to air, often based on popular radio formats - musical variety and quiz formats were quite popular.cite web
title = Free TV Australia - History of TV
publisher = FreeTV Australia
url =
year = 2005
accessdate = 2007-07-28
] Although by the end of the 1950s television had expanded to also include Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, it was estimated that less than 5% of the residents in Melbourne, and fewer than 1% in Sydney owned a television set, which at the time cost, on average, six to ten weeks' wages.cite web
title = Popular Australian Television
publisher =
url =
year = 2007
accessdate = 2007-07-28

As the new medium's popularity increased, broadcasters began to import content from the United States and United Kingdom for programming. Local content was limited to talk and variety shows, and news and current affairs. Notable programs of the 1950s included TCN-9's music program "Bandstand", hosted by radio presenter Brian Henderson, HSV-7's weekly sport program "World of Sport", and the ABC's "Six O'Clock Rock", hosted by Johnny O'Keefe. The first Australian serial drama, "Autumn Affair", ran for a 10-month run on ATN-7. Several programs in the 1950s were simply rebroadcasts of established radio programs, such as Bob Dyer's "Pick a Box".


The 1960s saw the continued growth of television in Australia, particularly into regional areas. The first regional TV services began in Victoria in 1961 with the first being Gippsland's GLV-10 followed by Shepparton's GMV-6 and Bendigo's BCV-8. NBN-3 in Newcastle was the first first regional service in New South Wales commencing broadcast in 1962.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 mid-1960s, third stations. In order to reduce costs, networks began to emerge - originally in 1957 between HSV-7 and TCN-9, but later between almost all the metropolitan stations of a certain frequency. This led to the formation of the National Television Network (forerunner to the Nine Network) and Australian Television Network (later known as the Seven Network) in 1962. Not all stations became a part of their respective networks - TVW-7 in Perth, Western Australia remained independent for a number of years as the sole commercial station in the city. Throughout the decade the Australian Broadcasting Corporation expanded transmissions to several major centres including Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Canberra.

The establishment of a coaxial cable link between Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the introduction of satellite broadcasting 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 1966, by 1970 as many as thirty-one programs were received via this manner. GTV-9 in Melbourne broke records in 1969 with the longest live television broadcast with its coverage of the Apollo moon landing.

A number of television programs were launched in the 1960s, most notably Melbourne police drama "Homicide" on HSV-7, "Bellbird" on the ABC, and for interstate viewers Graham Kennedy's "In Melbourne Tonight" or the "Graham Kennedy Channel Nine Show". In addition to these, many programs still seen today were launched at this time including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's acclaimed current affairs program "Four Corners" and "Play School" - now the country's longest-running children's show, as well as the Nine Network's "Here's Humphrey".

Winners of the first nationally-shown TV Week Logie Awards included "In Melbourne Tonight" host Graham Kennedy - twice, "Pick-a-box" host Bob Dyer, Lorrae Desmond from ABC's "The Lorrae Desmond Show", "Four Corners" reporter Michael Charlton, Bobby Limb, Jimmy Hannan, Gordon Chater, Brian Henderson and Hazel Philips.

Numerous television stations were launched, mainly concentrated around southern and eastern parts of the country. By the turn of the decade, the takeup of television had increased dramatically - by 1960 up to 70% of homes in Sydney and Melbourne had a television set. Following its introduction to regional centres and other capital cities through the late 1950s and 1960s over 90% of Australian homes in established markets had a television set. The new medium had also become highly lucrative to advertisers.


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 1971. Similarly, VEW-8 launched in Kalgoorlie on 18 June 1971, and ITQ-8 launched in Mount Isa on 11 September 1971. The youngest network, the 0/10 Network, as it was then known, launched the controversial sex-melodrama serial "Number 96" in March 1972. The success of this program led to this third network becoming commercially viable.

In 1972 it was announced that all stations will move to colour on 1 March 1975, using the European PAL standard mandated in 1968.cite web
title = The History of Australian Television - The Sixties
publisher =
url =
year = 2006
accessdate = 2007-07-27
] cite news
title = Newcastle Calling
work = TV Week
pages = 27
date = 1962-02-24
] cite web
title = The History of Australian Television - The Seventies
publisher =
url =
year = 2006
accessdate = 2007-07-28
] Australia was to have one of the fastest change-overs to colour television in the world - by 1978 over 64% of households in Sydney and Melbourne had colour television sets.

Government subsidies provided for the production of local series led to a boom in Australian-produced content. Some of the most popular series included Crawford Productions police dramas "Homicide", "Division 4" which started during the 1960s and "Matlock Police" which began in 1971; variety series "Young Talent Time"; comedy/variety series "Hey Hey It's Saturday", which ran for 28 years until 1999, music show "Countdown"; soap operas "Bellbird" which had started in late 1967, "Number 96" and "The Box", and the World War II-themed The Sullivans. "Against the Wind", the first major mini-series produced for commercial television, was shown on the Seven Network. Later hospital drama "The Young Doctors" ran for 1396 episodes between 1976 and 1983, 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 1973, but was banned from appearing from television in 1975 after an infamous 'crow-call' incident. Kennedy subsequently returned in 1977 as the host of "Blankety Blanks". In 1979, commercial stations were mandated to provide 'C'-classified programming targeted at children between 4-5pm, 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 1971, while "60 Minutes", on the same network, began in 1979. In 1972 NBN Television in Newcastle is the first station in Australia to adopt a one-hour news format, followed by ATV-0 Melbourne's "Eyewitness News", hosted by Bruce Mansfield and Annette Allison, in March 1978.

A special Gold Logie Award was awarded to the Apollo 11 crew in 1970, alongside actors Barry Crocker and Maggie Tabberer. Other Gold Logie winners included Gerard Kennedy, Tony Barber, Graham Kennedy, Pat McDonald, Ernie Sigley and Denise Drysdale in the first awards presentation shown in colour, Don Lane, Jeanne Little, and Bert Newton.

Sports broadcasting became increasingly sophisticated through the 1970s. ABC TV, the Seven Network and the Nine Network joined together to broadcast the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, with the opening and closing ceremonies telecast live, and highlights packages shown each night. During November of the same year, RTS-5a commenced transmissions in Riverland, with GTW-11 launching in Geraldton on 21 January 1977.

In 1977 the Victorian Football League Grand Final was shown live to Melbourne viewers for the first time. As with the Olympics, the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada were shown in the form of highlights packages on ABC TV.

The Special Broadcasting Service, originally a group of radio stations broadcasting government information to ethnic minorities in Sydney and Melbourne, begins test transmissions on ABC TV in the two cities - mainly showing foreign-language programming on Sunday mornings.cite web
title = SBS Corporation - History
publisher = Special Broadcasting Service
url =
year = 2002
accessdate = 2007-07-28


The country's second national public broadcaster, the Special Broadcasting Service, launched SBS TV in Sydney and Melbourne in October 1980. The new station, aimed at Australia's growing multicultural population, placed a much heavier emphasis on subtitled or foreign-language content. The network expanded to cover Canberra and Goulburn in 1983, followed by Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Gold Coast in June 1985. It is now available in most areas.

Although Australia had seen the introduction of the satellite in the 1960s, 1986 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 1986 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation were broadcasting both television and radio to remote areas of Australia. cite web
title=Free TV Australia - History of TV
] By 1980, commercial television in Australia accounted for 33% of all mainstream advertising; this was a significant rise from the introduction of television in 1960 when it was accountable for only 15% of advertising revenue.

The 1980s was a big decade for Australian television, beginning with Ten broadcasting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics live across Australia.cite web
title=Television AU - The Eighties
] The '80s were a huge step up for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, sealing the contracts for both "Live Aid" and the 1986 Commonwealth Games, live from Edinburgh. 1986 also saw the introduction of "Neighbours," a popular Australian TV Drama. In 1983 a two-hour experiment was conducted, in which the Seven Network televised a series of 3-D films. In 1988 Network Ten televised the 1988 Summer Olympics live via satellite.

The late 1980s 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 1990s saw a boom in Australian-made drama, which included "Halifax f.p.", "Stingers", "Water Rats", "SeaChange", "All Saints", and the long running police drama "Blue Heelers" which ran from 1994 to 2006, one of the longest running Australian programs, equaling "Homicide's" record of 510 episodes; a record set two decades earlier. A number of successful comedy programs also aired during the 1990s, including "Fast Forward", "Full Frontal", "The Late Show" and "Good News Week". "Hey Hey It's Saturday" ended its 28 year run in November 1999.One of the most significant changes for regional television in Australia began in the 1990s with the introduction of "aggregation". Instead of being covered by a single commercial channel, regional license areas would combine to provide 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 1989, followed by Queensland on 31 December 1990, northern New South Wales on 31 December 1991 and Victoria on 1 January 1992. 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. Following aggregation in 1995, Sunshine Television was purchased by Seven Network Limited. [cite web|url=|title= Sunshine Television History|accessdate= 2007-06-27|author= Brooklyn Ross-Hulands|publisher= AusTVHistory]

Community television was introduced to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in 1994. The stations, which all broadcast on 'Channel 31', were allocated long-term temporary licenses until new legislation introduced in 1997 permitted permanent license to be granted. Briz 31 was the first community television station to launch in Australia, on 31 July 1994. C31 Melbourne and Access 31 in Perth followed in 1994 and 1999 respectively, along with a number of other stations in some capital and regional cities. The most recent to launch was Sydney's TVS. Throughout the early 1990s, SBS TV coverage continued to expand to include the Latrobe Valley, Spencer Gulf, Darwin, northeast Tasmania, Cairns and Townsville.

During the 1990s the first subscription television services were introduced to Australia. The first license was issued to Galaxy Television, which started in 1993, providing services to most metropolitan areas by 1995. Other major providers include Foxtel, Optus Television and AUSTAR, all of which were introduced in 1995. Galaxy, folded in 1998 and was subsequently absorbed by Foxtel. [ cite web| title = Rupert's killer of a deal| work = The Sydney Morning Herald| url =| date = 2003-02-01| accessdate = 2007-08-01 ] [ cite web| title = The Demise of Australis| work = Australian Broadcasting Corporation| url =| date = 1997-11-18| accessdate = 2007-08-01 ] Despite recent growth, subscription television in Australia still has relatively few subscribers.


The 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney resulted in huge ratings for its host broadcaster, the Seven Network - over 6.5 million Australians watched the telecast of opening and closing ceremonies, which were amongst the most-watched programs in television history and helped Seven defeat the Nine Network in ratings terms for the first time in more than two decades. 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. Community stations also began to receive permanent transmitter licenses, replacing temporary licenses that were renewed yearly. At this time it was thought that allowing Commercial Multicasting would be detrimental so the Publically 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 the first of January 2009, Network Ten, Nine and Seven will be allowed to create alternative SD channels.

Many successful Australian shows were created during the 2000s, including ABC TV comedies like "Kath and Kim", "Spicks and Specks" and "The Chaser's War on Everything", Network Ten's "Thank God You're Here", which led to the creation of many local versions throughout the world, and the growth of reality television, especially "Big Brother Australia" and "Australian Idol". 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 2002, providing news bulletins in languages other than English. In 2003 Tasmanian Digital Television launched, providing Tasmanian viewers a third commercial station, and nationally-available stations Fly TV and the ABC Kids Channel launched, later to be eventually shut down due to funding issues and replaced in 2005 by ABC2. Mildura Digital Television, similar to TDT, launched at the start of 2006. Sydney also began testing datacasting transmissions with Digital 44 in 2003. 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 2004 and Television Sydney in February 2006. cite web
title = C31 Adelaide licence application
publisher = Australian Communications and Media Authority
url =
year = 2003
month = January
accessdate = 2007-09-22
] cite web
title = Television Sydney History
publisher = University of Western Sydney
url =
date = 2005-11-30
accessdate = 2007-07-23

In October 2005, Network Ten announced that "Good Morning Australia" would be cancelled at the end of the year, after a 14 year run. Although Bert Newton was offered ongoing employment at Network Ten, he joined the Nine Network to host short-lived "Bert's Family Feud", until 23 May 2007 when the program was axed. [cite web
title = Bert's Family Feud axed
publisher = The Sunday Telegraph
url =,22049,21702024-5006009,00.html
date = 2007-05-09
accessdate = 2007-07-29

The Nine Network, traditional ratings leader, suffered ratings losses by the mid-2000s, losing out to the Seven Network, which became the most popular Australian network early 2007. This was not the only loss by the network: the death of its CEO Kerry Packer in late 2005 led to network personality Eddie McGuire becoming the head of the network, [ cite web| title = Small funeral for a giant of a man| work = ninemsn| url =| date = 2005-12-30| accessdate = 2007-08-01 ] and the network lost AFL broadcast rights to the Seven and Ten networks in the largest Australian television rights deal in history, worth AU$780 million. [cite web
title = Seven and Ten win 5-year AFL broadcasting deal
publisher = Australian Broadcasting Corporation
url =
date = 2006-01-06
accessdate = 2007-07-31

In mid-2007, National Indigenous Television, launched as Australia's 'third public broadcaster', after the ABC and SBS, replacing Indigenous Community Television on the Optus Aurora remote satellite service. [ cite web
title = New Indigenous TV station turns on
publisher = Australian Broadcasting Corporation
url =
date = 2007-07-14
accessdate = 2007-07-13
] The move to High Definition Television broadcasting came to the forefront when Network TEN announced it's intentions to create the first dedicated HD channel Ten HD on 14 September 2007 with a December 2007 Launch date. cite news
title = New channel, new era: Introducing TEN HD
publisher = Ten Network Holdings Limited
date = 2007-09-14
url =
accessdate = 2007-09-14

Although Ten HD was initially expected to be the first new commercial television channel in metropolitan areas of Australia since 1988, it was instead beaten to the punch by Seven HD. Following the announcement by the Ten Network, Network Seven also announced it's previously hidden plans to launch a dedicated HD channel on the 15th of September 2007 and pushed the launch date forward to October the 10th. Seven HD was the first dedicated HD channel launched, 2 months earlier than the Channel 10 equilivent. The Nine Network's move to a HD channel was considered sluggish by industry insiders, taking until March 2008. The Network is more excited by its plans to introduce a new SD channel in 2009, which is when digital multicasting restrictions are scheduled to be lifted from the commercial stations. cite news
title = Better late than never - Nine on a high definition
publisher = The Age
date = 2008-03-17
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-29


Television broadcasting in Australia is available both in colour analogue and digital formats, 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.

In most areas there is a choice of three free-to-air commercial broadcasters in addition to the television services of the 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. [cite web |title=Tuning In |publisher=National Indigenous Television |date=2007 |accessdate=2007-07-25 |url= ]

Commercial television is dominated by three major metropolitan-based networks, the Seven Network and Network Ten, which own stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, the Nine Network which owns stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin with affiliates in Adelaide and Perth. In addition to its metropolitan assets, Seven also owns regional station Seven Queensland.

Regional television in Australia consists of independently-owned networks 'affiliated' to metropolitan stations. WIN Television is the country's largest regional broadcaster in terms of population reach (it also owns the Nine Network stations in Perth and Adelaide), followed by Southern Cross Ten, Prime Television, NBN Television, the Golden West Network, Southern Cross Television, and Imparja Television. [cite web|publisher=Australian Communications and Media Authority |title=Population figures |date=2007-04-16 |accessdate=2007-04-25 |url= ]

Along with regional markets, there are diary markets such as regional Western Australia and Alice Springs, where only two networks are available. In these areas, the two incumbent commercial broadcasters are allowed to apply for a third, digital-only license, to provide additional programming. This has resulted in the establishment of a number of channels including Tasmanian Digital Television, Mildura Digital Television, and the forthcoming Darwin Digital Television. [cite web|publisher=Australian Communications and Media Authority |title=Section 38B register |date=2007-06-05 |accessdate=2007-04-25 |url= ]

Subscription television in Australia consists of Foxtel in metropolitan areas and throughout Western Australia, AUSTAR in the regional areas of eastern and central states, and Optus Television in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. A number of smaller operators including SelecTV, TransACT, UBI World TV, and Neighbourhood Cable provide niche or local services. Most operators provide the same or similar channels. There are few genuine local channels and few independent channel. One exception is the World Movies channel owned by a consortium including SBS Television and companies owned by Kerry Stokes and the Australian Radio Network

Community television progressively launched between the 1980s to the 2000s. The sector is represented nationally by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. cite web
title = About the CBAAA
publisher = Community Broadcasting Association of Australia
url =
date =
accessdate = 2007-07-29
] Community stations include TVS, C31 Melbourne, 31 Brisbane, C31 Adelaide and Access 31; many recognisable mainstream personalities originated from community television, including Rove McManus and Wil Anderson.


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. Other successful police drama series have included "Cop Shop", "Police Rescue", "Blue Heelers", "Water Rats" and "Stingers". Medical dramas have also proved popular with audiences, including series such as "The Flying Doctors", "GP", "A Country Practice" and "All Saints".

Notable miniseries have included "Against the Wind", "All the Rivers Run", "Bodyline", "Brides of Christ", "The Dismissal" and "The Timeless Land", and in more recent times "Curtin" and "Bastard Boys".

Australian soap opera success began with "Bellbird" in 1967 which was a moderate but consistent success. Following this the huge success of "Number 96" in 1972 prompted creation of the similar "The Box" in 1974. These serials were all cancelled in 1977. Following this successful serials included "The Young Doctors", "The Sullivans", "Prisoner", "Sons and Daughters", "Neighbours" and "Home and Away". This later group were also screened internationally, finding particular success in the United Kingdom.

Comedy series have included "The Aunty Jack Show", "The Paul Hogan Show", "The Norman Gunston Show", and more recently "The D-Generation", "Frontline", "The Glass House" and popular series "Thank God You're Here", which has since been adapted to a number of countries around the world, and already several of them have brought in creators and stars of shows like "Kath & Kim" to help produce, direct, star, or serve as consultants on their versions.


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 6.00pm, Network Ten has news at 5.00pm while ABC1 has news at 7:00pm. The primetime slot in Australia runs from 6.00pm to midnight, with the most popular programming shown from around 7.30pm to 10.30pm, followed by a half-hour news bulletin on some networks. Many programs shown in these times on commercial networks are taken from American television, while ABC1 has a mixture of Australian and British productions. SBS TV, 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 both have rival breakfast shows (in Ten's case children's programming) that run from 7.00-9.00am, followed by morning shows on all three networks until 11.00am. ABC1 uses significant parts of its morning and afternoon schedules to provide educational and children's programming, while on SBS TV foreign-language bulletins are shown in simulcast with the World News Channel for most of the morning, followed by foreign-language films and documentaries.

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". Sports programming, however, is usually shown live to all states.

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.

News and current affairs


Both national public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, produce news services. The ABC provides both local and national news bulletins in the form of "ABC News" at 7pm and "The Midday Report", presented from both Sydney and state capitals. SBS TV broadcasts a nightly hour-long "World News Australia" bulletin at 6.30pm, followed by a later, half-hour edition at 9.30pm.

Higher ratings for earlier bulletins from commercial broadcasters including the Seven Network, Nine Network, and Network Ten have prompted fierce ratings competition. [cite web |title=Seven takes on Nine |url= |date=2005-02-14 |accessdate=2007-07-25 |publisher=B&T |author=Felicity Shea] Seven News has recently overtaken National Nine News as Australia's highest-ratings news service, however in some areas (such as Melbourne) Nine is still the leader.

Seven News produce national bulletins in the mornings and afternoons, as well as local 6pm bulletins in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The network's news bulletins and popular breakfast program "Sunrise" compete directly with the Nine Network's offerings, which include the "Today Show" and morning, afternoon, evening and late editions of National Nine News. Ten News is shown in competition with Seven and Nine's breakfast programs in the form of an hour-long early news bulletin, in addition to its morning, late, and "First at Five" evening editions.

Sky News Australia, seen on Foxtel, Austar, and Optus TV is the only Australian-based twenty-four hour news channel. The subscription based television channel draws on the resources of its shareholders news services, using content from Seven News, National 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. WIN Television produces 20 bulletins in parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia. 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. Prime Television produces news updates throughout regional New South Wales and Victoria, with sister-network GWN producing Golden West News for Western Australia. In the Northern Territory, Imparja Television shows Imparja National News. Southern Cross Television produces a bulletin for Tasmania and regional South Australia.

Current affairs

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".

ABC1 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 training ground for many of Australia's best-known journalists. "This Day Tonight" was axed in 1978, however in the mid-1980s "The 7.30 Report" was launched in state-based editions (these were combined into a national program hosted by Kerry O'Brien in 1995). "Four Corners", first seen in 1961, an investigative documentary series modelled on the BBC's "Panorama", has also won many awards and broken stories previously uncovered by other media outlets.

Other current affairs programs include news and analysis program "Lateline", "Stateline", shown in place of "The 7.30 Report" on Fridays, "Foreign Correspondent", "Insiders", "Offsiders" and "Australia Wide".

SBS TV also shows a number of current affairs programs, such as "Dateline", the country's longest-running international current affairs program, launched in 1984. "Insight", originally conceived in 1999 as a domestic current affairs program, is a discussion forum focussing on a single issue. SBS's Indigenous Media Unit produces another program titled "Living Black", which covers issues relevant to Australia's indigenous community.

There are a number of commercial current affairs programs. The Seven Network, in addition to Sunrise, broadcasts "Today Tonight", a tabloid current affairs program, every weeknight after its 6pm news bulletin. On the Nine Network, "A Current Affair", first shown in 1971, competes directly with "Today Tonight" and has, since Ray Martin began presenting in 1994, provided a similar mix of content. On Sundays, "60 Minutes" features a number of stories produced both locally and from its US counterpart. In the morning "Sunday" covers local and overseas news, politics, and current affairs, in addition to film reviews, politics, arts, and music.

Political and interview program "Meet the Press" is also shown on Sunday mornings, on Network Ten since 1992. Regional network Southern Cross Ten broadcasts "State Focus", a regional current affairs program, afterwards. Ten also produces weekend and weeknighly late editions of "Sports Tonight", a sports information show which debuted in 1993.

On subscription television, Sky News Australia airs a number of news commentary and analysis shows such as Agenda, Sportsline, Sky Business Report, and Sky News Eco Report. A local version of The Weather Channel was launched in 1999, joined in 2006 by FoxSportsNews, a 24-hour sports news channel. "Squawk Australia", a business news program shown from 6.00am, is seen on CNBC Asia.


Television ratings in Australia are collected by three main organisations: OzTAM in metropolitan areas, Regional TAM in regional areas serviced by three commercial television networks, and in areas with two commercial networks, Nielsen Media Research Australia.

Ratings are collected for 40 weeks during the year, excluding a two-week break during Easter and ten weeks over summer. The majority of locally produced comedy and drama on commercial networks is shown during the ratings period.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Nine Network has been the ratings leader in Australia, typically followed by the Seven Network and Network Ten. Subscription television and the two national broadcasters, ABC1 and in particular SBS TV, due to its special-interest nature, typically attract fewer viewers than the three commercial networks. Network Ten, due to its programming line-up, has traditionally been the market leader for younger viewers.

The 2007 ratings period has so far been unique in that, for the first time since 2000, the Seven Network has overtaken its rival Nine Network in terms of average viewers. [ cite web
url =
title = Nine scores ratings goal on back of league draw
accessdate = 2007-06-06
date = 2007-05-29
work = The Age
publisher = AsiaMedia
] ABC1 has also, since the early 2000s, seen ratings (as well as audience reach) as a major performance indicator - this has, however, led to a decline in viewers rather than the expected increase. The Nine Network has, in the past, aggressively marketed its long-time ratings dominance through its promotional campaign "Still the One".


Content on Australian television is regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. All codes of practice submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority are reviewed by the public prior to acceptance. cite web
title = Content regulation
publisher = Australian Communications and Media Authority
url =
date = 2007-02-15
accessdate = 2007-07-24
] There are different regulations for different types of content, and the main categories are divided up into Australian content, children's content, commercial broadcasting, community broadcasting, public broadcasting, and subscription television. cite web
title = Broadcasting industry codes of practice
publisher = Australian Communications and Media Authority
url =
date = 2007-02-15
accessdate = 2007-07-24

The regulations in place define what a broadcaster may put on-air, the time(s) of day they are allowed to broadcast specific material, and what advertisements are shown in relation to these criteria. In essence, the Australian Communications and Media Authority controls what content is shown, what time(s) of day it is shown, and who controls what is shown (i.e.: international media as opposed to Australian media). cite web
title = Regulating television broadcasters
publisher = Australian Communications and Media Authority
url =
date = 2007-02-15
accessdate = 2007-07-24

Genre restrictions imposed by the Australian government on digital multichanneling were lifted along with the media ownership laws passed through the Parliament of Australia on 18 October 2006. [ cite web
url =,,1925263,00.html
title = Australia opens up media investment
accessdate = 2007-03-31
date = 2006-10-18
work =
publisher =
] Digital-only multichannels in Australia were previously limited in the subjects they could cover, with programming identified as comedy, drama, national news, sport or entertainment, prohibited from broadcast.


ee also

* History of television
* Sports TV broadcasting contracts in Australia

External links

* [ Free TV Australia]
* [ National Film and Sound Archive homepage]
* [ TVAus Forum]
* [ TV News Website]

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