Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first programs to be broadcast on Melbourne’s third commercial station, ATV0, in the lead up to its official launch in August 1964.

The station had been broadcasting a test pattern since Thursday, 2 April 1964 but from Monday, 4 May 1964 had commenced a daily schedule of test programs. The programs were primarily for technical testing and to assist viewers and TV installers in tuning sets to the new channel and were not for the purposes of general entertainment. Much of the program material consisted of short films, travelogues and documentaries on travel, motoring, aviation and music. The schedule included no commercials.

Some of the program synopses include:

The Pitcairn People — “a documentary about the people who inhabit Pitcairn Island, the rock where Fletcher Christian and his men from the Bounty mutineered against Captain William Bligh in 1790 and formed a settlement.”

The Home Made Car — “tells the story of a youngster who did that. The music was written by Australian Ron Grainer who wrote the themes for ABC’s Steptoe And Son and Maigret.”

YouTube: Nat Jes

The Back Of Beyond — “the first Australian film to win the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival. It shows the three hundred mile long Birdsville track which runs between Marree and Birdsville.”

Giuseppina  — “the story of a little girl who couldn’t go to the fair, but by staying at home (at her father’s service station in Italy) made her own fantasy fun by observing people who arrived to buy petrol.” This short film, sponsored by oil company BP, won an Academy Award in 1961 for Best Documentary (Short Subject).

YouTube: gpproductionsuk

The channel did come under fire from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board as details of the first week’s schedule had been “leaked” to outside media, including The Age newspaper and TV Times. The board’s rules stated that specific details of such test programs were not to be advertised and not to consist of general entertainment programming. “Publicity should be limited to the times at which the test transmission will be made, and a general idea of the type of material to be transmitted,” a broadcasting control board spokesperson told TV Week. “Test transmissions are not intended to provide entertainment for viewers generally.”

The spokesperson refused to comment whether or not the board’s response to the leaked program schedule was due to existing channels GTV9 and HSV7 being unhappy about the publicised schedule ahead of the new channel’s official opening. A representative from ATV0 said the channel “did not issue program details” and that the board was right to approach the channel on the matter.

ATV0 was officially launched on Saturday 1 August 1964.


Monday 4 May: 8am Test Pattern and Music, 12pm Australia And New Zealand, 12.13 The Pitcairn People, 12.40 Sea Road, 12.57 Three In A Million, 1.42 Isle Of The Caribbean, 1.57 Time, music, 4pm Flight Into Yesterday, 4.30 They Chose The Sea, 4.55 Speed The Plough, 5.11 The Power To Fly, 5.31 The Home Made Car, 5.59 Music, 7pm Grand Tour, 7.28 Final Victory, 7.57 Music, 8pm Close

Tuesday 5 May: 8am Test Pattern and Music, 12pm Invitation To An Indian Wedding, 12.22 Giuseppina, 12.54 Heritage In The Sun, 1.16 Wings To Britain, 1.29 Castles And Castanets, 1.58 Music, 4pm The Dancing Feet, 4.30 The Back Of Beyond, 5.35 Handle With Care, 5.59 Music, 7pm Invitation To An Indian Wedding (rpt), 7.22 Heritage In The Sun (rpt), 7.44 Wings To Britain (rpt), 7.57 Music, 8pm Close

Wednesday 6 May: 8am Test Pattern and Music, 12pm Barrier Reef Fishermen, 12.12 Captain James Cook, 12.57 Four Centuries Ago, 1.19 Barossa — Valley Of Vintage, 1.41 GP 1953 Nurburgring, 1.59 Music, 4.10 SS British Sovereign, 4.24 Dawn A Long Way, 4.42 Flight 773, 5.14 Wings For Tomorrow, 5.26 Bombay — Gateway To India, 5.48 A Ship Comes To Antwerp, 5.58 Music, 7pm Barrier Reef Fisherman (rpt), 7.12 Captain James Cook (rpt), 7.57 Music, Close

Thursday 7 May: 8am Test Pattern and Music, 12pm With Our Hands, 12.42 Postman’s Holiday, 12.57 Switzerland, 1.22 The Dutch TT, 2pm Music, 4pm Charles Sturt, 4.28 History Of The Helicopter, 4.55 Wheels Of Progress, 5.24 Riding High, 5.42 Pacific Holiday, 5.57 Music, 7pm With Our Hands (rpt), 7.42 Postman’s Holiday (rpt), 7.57 Music, Close

Friday 8 May: 8am Test Pattern and music, 12pm Sound Of The Sea, 12.30 Isle Of Man TT, 12.59 Candid Europe, 1.26 Across The Pacific, 1.56 Music, 4pm Winds To Jamaica, 4.28 British Adventure, 4.58 The Cattle Carters, 5.28 Shringar — Hair Styles Of India, 5.58 Music, 7pm Sound Of The Sea (rpt), 7.30 Isle Of Man TT (rpt), 7.59 Music, Close

Saturday 9 May: 8am Test Pattern and Music, 12pm Oriana, 12.34 La Captaine — H, 12.54 The Moving Spirit, 1.12 Continent Of Contrasts, 1.40 The Golden State, 1.57 Music, 4pm Formula 1 — 1956, 4.47 Playing With Water, 5.07 Record Breakers, 5.37 Water Skiing Tips, 5.57 Music, 7pm Oriana (rpt), 7.34 La Captaine — H (rpt), 7.54 Music, Close

Sunday 10 May: 8am Test Pattern and Music, 12pm Melbourne Suggests, 12.20 Romantic Germany, 12.48 Ports Of Paradise, 1.18 The Magic Window, 1.38 Jack Pine Journey, 1.58 Music, 4pm The Captain Of Kopenick, 5.33 Three Roads To Tomorrow, 5.57 Music, 7pm Indianapolis 1963, 7.28 On The Trail Of Captain Cook, 7.53 Music, Close


Source: TV Week, 16 May 1964. TV Times, 22 April 1964, 29 April 1964, 6 May 1964. The Age, 2 April 1964.


2 thoughts on “ATV Channel 0’s first programs

  1. I’ve actually got a copy of Giuseppina in my digital video collection; it’s the kind of “multicultural” short-drama you just can’t help wanting to see again and again! It’s so bright, lively, colourful and really one of those short films that reflected the fifties for what it truly was – “the happy decade”. I must look up those other test transmission films on YouTube – some of them will actually be there. I believe you can get many of them – including The Back of Beyond – on DVD (check The ABC Shop for that one).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.