Next month – 1 July at 8.00pm to be exact – marks the 75th anniversary of the launch of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), the national broadcasting service which took control of twelve existing radio stations around the country.
ABC continued to develop and expand radio services through metropolitan and regional Australia and now at its 75th birthday it can claim five domestic radio networks (Radio National, Local Radio, ABC FM, JJJ and NewsRadio) spanning the entire geography of Australia – available either via AM or FM broadcast, via satellite and some stations also streaming on the internet.
In 1954, ABC was assigned the responsibility to provide the national television service – initially with one television station in each of Sydney and Melbourne in 1956 with the early highlight being the Olympic Games from Melbourne.
ABC later expanded television service to other capital cities and, from the early 1960s, into regional areas. Colour television arrived in 1975, and ABC’s first program in the bold new world of colour was the iconic rock program Countdown.
In 1980, ABC began satellite broadcasting to remote areas of Australia via the international satellite Intelsat. Six years later, the satellite service was transferred to the new domestic satellite Aussat.
On ABC’s 51st birthday in 1983, the Australian Broadcasting Commission became the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
On New Year’s Day 1988, ABC in association with the Nine Network and SBS produced Australia Live – a four-hour presentation to launch the bicentennial of European settlement in Australia.
ABC expanded to 24 hour transmission in 1993, around the same time it launched its own international satellite channel Australia Television, taking the national broadcaster across the Asia-Pacfic region.
Digital television got off to a modest start in 2001, and ABC and the second national broadcaster SBS are the only networks initially allowed to offer multi-channel services on the digital platform. ABC initially launched two digital channels, ABC Kids and Fly TV in 2002 but were later shut-down due to budget limitations. In 2005, ABC made a renewed entry into multi-channel television with the launch of ABC2 – providing a mix of original and time-shifted content from the main ABC channel.
ABC has launched its 75th birthday website and is definetly worth a look. It includes audio and video clips of historic moments of ABC radio and television.