1978: January 7-13

Cover Story: TV’s Sportsman of the Year
TV Times previews the presentation of the 1977 Sportsman Of The Year – to be screened on ABC on Saturday 7 January. Among the favourites to take out the title are Dennis Lillee (cricket), Bart Cummings (racing), Graham Marsh (golf), Evonne Cawley (tennis) and Rocky Mattioli (boxing).

Countdown spectacular for Adelaide:
ABC’s Countdown is preparing a lavish outside broadcast to be presented from the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March. ABC claims it will be the biggest televised pop program ever made in Australia. Producer Rob Weekes told TV Times that the only name so far confirmed for the event is South Australian Premier Don Dunstan: “he’ll be taking part, not performing”. The special presentation is being regarded as the next stage in Countdown‘s “development as a major influence on Australian music.”

My top 10 shows of 1977:
Columnist FC Kennedy reviews the year 1977, naming Countdown, The Mike Walsh Show, Four Corners and news coverage of the Granville train disaster as among TV’s highlights, and with Australian TV drama at a low-point, it was a British series When The Boat Comes In that was his favourite of 1977.

Letters To The Editor:
“I would like to complain about the lack of suitable TV shows for 12-year-olds and others around this age. We are too old for Bugs Bunny and too young to understand or want to watch science fiction” – Michelle, NSW

“Come on Perth channels, how about some “new” programs over here before we get too far behind the East Coast. Channel 7 said they were waiting for colour to start before they’d show Boney. We have had colour for three years!” – D.S., WA

“I’d just like to thank those Channel 9 people in Sydney who brought the fabulous Star Trek back on to our TV sets. I hope we’ll be able to see all 76 episodes.” E.P., NSW

What’s On:
Being summer, sport dominates much of the week’s programming with Kerry Packer‘s innovative World Series Cricket on GTV9
, Test Cricket on ABC and the Tasmanian Open Tennis on HSV7.

New soaps The Restless Years and Cop Shop both now settled into two one-hour episodes a week. For its summer break, Countdown presents a series of specials covering the top 100 records of 1977.

GTV9 presents a ‘summer edition’ of National Nine News each weeknight at 9.30pm, as well as the usual 6.30pm bulletin.

Sunday night movies are Alex In Wonderland (HSV7), Tony Rome (GTV9) and First To Fight (ATV0) with a re-run of the British mini-series Elizabeth R on ABV2.

Source: TV Times, 7 January 1978. ABC/ACP

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/1978-january-7-13.html

Imparja turns 20

Today – 2 January – marks the twentieth anniversary of Imparja Television, Australia’s only indigenous-owned commercial TV station.

The path to launch day was less than a smooth ride. When the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (the predecessor to today’s ACMA) invited potential licencees to apply to operate the remote commercial television service (RCTS) for the Northern Territory and South Australia in 1984, there were eight applicants.

The field ultimately boiled down to two – the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA – owner of Imparja) and Television Capricornia (a company formed by Territory Television, the licencee of Darwin’s NTD8).

After two rounds of licence hearings, CAAMA was found to be the most suitable operator of the licence, but Television Capricornia appealed the decision – and lost. Television Capricornia then took their case to the Federal Court, but by the time the case was to be heard, Territory Television had been bought out by Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), owners of the east coast Nine Network. PBL made a last minute decision to drop the appeal, and CAAMA was allocated the licence.

Imparja’s first programming, Australia versus Sri Lanka in the Test Cricket, appeared on 2 January 1988. For the first time, viewers in Alice Springs and other remote communities in Northern Territory and South Australia were given an alternative to watching the national broadcaster ABC. Imparja was broadcast via terrestrial transmission in larger remote centres, but the signal was also available to direct-to-home satellite receivers within Imparja’s satellite footprint – a result of the new domestic satellite AUSSAT which had launched three years earlier.

Imparja was officially launched on 15 January 1988, providing a mix of typical commercial network programming (sourced from all three capital city networks) interspersed with Imparja’s own indigenous-themed programming such as children’s programs and local news.

By 1999, Imparja had expanded its coverage to include Mount Isa in Queensland, and the South East and North East satellite footprints – extending its signal to remote communities in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania not covered by existing terrestrial television signals – in competition with the Queensland-based satellite service aligned to the Ten Network that in turn had expanded into Imparja’s own coverage area.

The Queensland-based service, operated by Telecasters Australia (now part of the Macquarie Media Group), was then re-aligned to the Seven Network, leaving Imparja with a dual Nine and Ten network feed.

From July 2007, the new national indigenous television service NITV has been carried as a second channel on Imparja’s satellite platform.

Imparja has continued to provide its own independent news service and in December 2007 announced plans to expand its news and current affairs portfolio to include more coverage from across its coverage area – an area of 4.5 million square kilometres.

Source: Imparja, Australian TV Archive, CAAMA Report (1987)

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/imparja-turns-20.html

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! (well, I think there’s me and about one other person that checks this blog – so that makes at least two of us!!)

So while the TV networks will be busy telling us what’s coming up or what’s coming back in 2008, we’re going to take a different slant on the New Year activity by telling you what was promised by the four networks at the beginning of 1978 – thirty years ago.

This information comes from TV Times magazine, and “1978” will be an ongoing theme as this year progresses to check on what was happening in Australian TV at the corresponding period in that year.

In a stark contrast to more recent times, ABC promised a range of new Australian drama in 1978 included the thriller Run From The Morning starring Michael Aitkens and Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Twenty Good Years with a cast including Harold Hopkins, Anne Pendlebury, Leila Hayes, Sandy Gore and John Diedrich, and Truckies featuring John Wood and guest appearances by Lois Ramsey and singer Colleen Hewett.

The drama line-up also included Catspaw, a seven-part series set in the air force featuring Peter Sumner, Ken James and Rowena Wallace, a four-part series Loss Of Innocence starring John Fitzgerald, Monica Maughan and Alwyn Kurts, and a children’s series The Nargun And The Stars.

Marcia Hines was coming back to host another series of Marcia Hines’ Music, with guest performers including Jon English, Mark Holden, Johnny Farnham, Linda George and Colleen Hewett. More light entertainment was also promised with the talent quest series Quest 78. ABC was also presenting a new series of In The Wild With Harry Butler and The Inventors and the debut of an Australian version of the British quiz Mastermind. Also returning for another year was Countdown and the nightly current affairs program This Day Tonight.

Overseas programs coming to ABC in 1978 included the US sitcom Soap, the historical series I Claudius and the International Pro-Celebrity Golf hosted by Bing Crosby. ABC would also cover the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The headline act of Seven‘s new line-up for 1978 was the historical saga Against The Wind, starring Jon English.

Seven’s local drama line-up also included Cop Shop, which had debuted late in 1977 in the lead up to the 1978 ratings battle, and the schoolroom soap Glenview High.

The new year also promised another eight episodes of the sketch comedy The Naked Vicar Show, an Australian version of Father Dear Father, and a new children’s series Bailey’s Bird.

Seven also had plenty of new overseas product in 1978 including US highway police drama CHiPs, mini-series The Holocaust, comedy Tabitha (featuring the grown-up character of the series Bewitched), and mini-series Man From Atlantis. Seven had also scored the British comedy Are You Being Served? which had previously screened on ABC.

Australian Rules football (VFL) was again on Seven in 1978, and returning for another year was the current affairs program Willesee At Seven and, in Melbourne, the variety program The Penthouse Club.

Imported shows also dominated Nine‘s list of new shows for 1978 including The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and the mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors. Nine also had local dramas The Young Doctors and The Sullivans continuing for another year, and joining them is five Australian tele-movies including Say You Want Me, A Good Thing Going, The Touch Of Love and Harvest Of Hate.

Nine was also promising new Australian specials from comedian Dave Allen as well as returning favourites New Faces, The Don Lane Show, The Paul Hogan Show, Ask The Leylands and The Mike Walsh Show. A new children’s show Nine Will Fix It offered viewers the chance to ask for wishes to be granted.

A Current Affair with Michael Schildberger was set to return for another year but with less emphasis on politics – following what Schildberger had described as a “dirty election” the year before – and more on stories of personal interest. Also joining the show’s line-up is Sydney radio host Mike Gibson and Melbourne announcer (“and comedian”) Pete Smith.

The game show Family Feud with Tony Barber, actually a production of TVW7 in Perth, was also promised to expand its audience in 1978 with TCN9 Sydney and GTV9 Melbourne taking the program for the first time. Nine also announced plans for a new game show The Better Sex with host Mike Preston and former Miss World Ann Sidney to be produced at STW9 in Perth.

Nine also to televise the TV Week Logie Awards in March.

The 0-10 Network offered little new Australian content in 1978 despite losing two of its prime-time shows, Number 96 and The Box, the previous year. A new 26-part series Chopper Squad follows a Sydney beach rescue team and had already been sold overseas prior to its Australian debut.

The soap opera The Restless Years, which had debuted in December 1977, continues through 1978, and returning Australian shows included Young Talent Time, Pot Of Gold, Blankety Blanks with Graham Kennedy, and game show $30,000 Treasure Hunt.

Children’s shows on 0-10 include What In The World, Junior Jury, The Early Bird Show and Marie’s Multi-coloured Magic Machine. Late nights included the Philips Soccer League and the variety show Peter Couchman Tonight.

New US titles for 0-10 in the new year included The New Adventures Of Wonder Woman, comedy series Second City TV, The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams and Operation Petticoat, based on the movie of the same name. Among the US titles returning in 1978 are MASH, The Waltons, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files and Alice.

Source: TV Times, 4 February 1978. Published by ABC, distributed by Australian Consolidated Press.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/happy-new-year.html

The Year That Was… #10: Farewells

For our final tribute to the year 2007, some of those that sadly departed us this year:

Andrea Stretton, journalist and TV presenter
Charmaine Dragun, newsreader
Chris Mainwaring, sports presenter
Gordon Sloan, Big Brother contestant
Justine Saunders, actress
Kevin Crease, newsreader
Lucky Grills, actor/performer
Matt Price, journalist and commentator
Norman Kaye, actor
Robert Fidgeon, TV critic
Stan Zemanek, TV/radio presenter
Tony Johnston, TV writer

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/the-year-that-was-10-farewells.html

The Year That Was… #9: Game shows sing, spell and con through ’07

Game shows are a staple in any TV network’s diet, but this year saw an absolute gluttony on the genre as new titles were unleashed onto the viewing public.

The game show battle started in January when Seven launched The Rich List hosted by Andrew O’Keefe (pictured), already of Deal Or No Deal fame. The US version of the program was not a huge hit, but the Australian version had more pleasing results over its limited episode run and is gearing up for another series in 2008.

Indirectly competing with The Rich List, on the same night but different timeslot, was the Nine Network‘s new offering 1 vs 100 which could perhaps be described as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for dummies. Boasting the largest game show stage in the southern hemisphere and hosted by Nine CEO Eddie McGuire (pictured), there was obviously a lot riding on the program. But upon sampling the opening episodes, 1 vs 100 copped feedback that it was ‘dumbed down’ with simple questions given the weight and tension worthy of the old Mastermind. Also, McGuire’s padding out of questions with conversations with contestants and throwing to ad breaks were classic Millionaire tactics that grated on viewers.

Figures for 1 vs 100 dropped well below the desired 1 million mark, with Nine eventually “resting” (TV-speak for “axing”) the show in September – only to replace it with a revamped Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. David Gyngell, whose return to the position of Nine CEO brought a boost to the network’s flagging morale, announced the return of Millionaire among the first of his ‘new’ program initiatives for the network. The difference with the ‘new’ Millionaire is that it would be live to air, for 90 minutes from 7.00pm every Monday, and the million dollar maximum prize-money upped to $5 million.

The relaunch of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire did not get the maximum ratings Nine may have hoped for, instead it was soundly beaten by both Seven and Ten networks. The program played out its six episodes for the series, but Nine may carefully consider if the program in its new format should live on in 2008.

Another game show launched by Nine was The Singing Bee on Sunday nights. Based on a US format, and employing the same US host Joey Fatone, The Singing Bee was studio karaoke with a big cash prize. The program didn’t start completely horrendously in the ratings but it had a fight up against Seven’s National Bingo Night.

Another format bought from the US (Australian networks seem to have a lack of being able to devise original game show formats?), National Bingo Night got off to an over-hyped start, and a strong rating result but the novelty wore off quickly. The show’s popularity was not helped by a smear campaign by Nine’s A Current Affair which made plenty about “uncovering” the game show as a supposed scam – although perhaps A Current Affair might like to divert their attention to a program on their own network, the late-night phone-in quiz The Mint, whose cryptic puzzles with seemingly illogical (or ill-explained) answers and charging viewers the right to compete seems to be a government investigation just waiting to happen.

Network Ten also entered into the game show arena with two new offerings this year – The Con Test and Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?The Con Test, based on an English program, encouraged contestants to bluff their way to trick their opponents to give themselves up. Hosted by Australian Idol co-host Andrew G and Melbourne radio identity Brigitte Duclos (pictured), it only held up modest results. Ten had a little more luck with Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? adapted from the US and hosted by network golden boy Rove McManus. The program gave solid ratings to help Ten maintain a strong Wednesday night line-up following the series final of Thank God You’re Here.

But it wasn’t just Ten that was quizzing kids in prime-time, even SBS got into the act with Hot Spell! A mix of the traditional spelling bee, with some game-show twists, the series hosted by Michael Tuahine (pictured) was the culmination of auditions held in schools around Australia and was screened over ten consecutive nights.
With all this game show activity in prime-time, it is easy to forget the traditional half-hour game shows are still fighting it out – with one casualty. Temptation continued in its merry way despite suggestions it was to be “rested” mid-year to make way for a five-night Millionaire format, but a last minute change by CEO David Gyngell saved Temptation‘s fate and kept it running Tuesday to Friday nights to work around his relaunched Millionaire on Mondays.

Seven’s Deal Or No Deal continued through the year, though it managed to fight off a challenge from Nine’s Bert’s Family Feud (pictured) which was axed during the year. However, Deal Or No Deal can’t rest on its laurels as Nine’s replacement program, the cheap UK Antiques Roadshow, is giving Deal a run for its money at a fraction of the cost of Bert’s Family Feud.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/the-year-that-was-9-game-shows-sing-spell-and-con-through-07.html

The Year That Was… #8: Reality check

The lights may have faded a bit on reality TV’s ratings this year but the genre still has some life left in it.

Network Ten‘s big name franchises The Biggest Loser, Big Brother and Australian Idol all came back for more this year.

The Biggest Loser largely followed the formula of last year but this year added the twist of introducing two “intruders” half-way through the series – with one of the intruders, Chris Garling, going on to win the series. The series final also scored an audience of over 2 million, not an easy feat in this era of declining free-to-air audiences.

Big Brother (pictured) returned for its seventh series but in the wake of intense criticism last year over the “turkey slap” incident, this year’s series was shown to be a lot more restrained. Gone was the adults-only Big Brother Uncut program, and despite producer’s claims that the incoming housemates were all more “worldly” than their predecessors, the group of housemates appeared to be a fairly pedestrian slice of white Australia. Despite the apparent lack of diversity among the housemates there were some exceptions – such as Turkish belly dancer Demet, fiery Brazilian Daniela and Melbourne corset maker Zach Douglas.

There were some new twists in this year’s Big Brother; the concept of the “white room”, where potential housemates were kept in a sensory-deprived environment, was met with criticism, while other twists such as housemate couple Andrew and Hayley whose relationship was initially kept secret, and was also tested when producers introduced Billy, a former boyfriend of Hayley’s, into the house.

The producer’s also copped criticism and headlines when housemate Kate Gladman was forced to confront the trauma of a miscarriage when the housemates were given the task of looking after baby dolls. More headlines followed when the father of housemate Emma Cornell had passed away while she was in the house but producer’s decided against advising her of his death, in accordance with the wishes of Cornell’s family and of the dying wishes of her father.

Producers also copped a serve from none other than the Mexican Government when one of its Friday Night Live games had contestants hurling goo-filled balloons at an upside-down Mexican flag.

Then after one of the longest Big Brother finales on record, due to a close vote between Cobram hairdresser Aleisha Cowcher and self-confessed ‘drama queen’ Zach Douglas, 21-year-old Cowcher won the series with a prize-money of $450,000.

But Big Brother‘s biggest twists came after the finale, with announcements that host Gretel Killeen (pictured) is to be replaced next year by Sydney radio hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, the adults-only “uncut” series will be back, and that Big Brother Up-Late with Mike Goldman won’t return in ’08.

Ten’s Australian Idol returned for a fifth series, though the spotlight – or at least the headlines – seemed to be on the judges rather than the contestants. With ratings down in comparison to earlier series, it was probably no coincidence that a lot of the reported ‘tensions’ between judges appeared in the Sunday newspapers, giving the show ample media exposure leading up to the regular Sunday night show.

The series final of Australian Idol, which saw Melbourne’s Natalie Gauci win the title, appeared to be dogged by technical hitches which wouldn’t have helped its ratings – scoring only 1.4 million viewers compared to last year’s finale watched by 2.1 million.

Over at Seven, they continued to mix the reality genre with variety with two more series of Dancing With The Stars (hosts Daryl Somers and Sonia Kruger pictured), another series of the singing contest It Takes Two, and the new Australia’s Got Talent.

Coupled with US import Ugly Betty, Australia’s Got Talent spearheaded Seven’s Sunday night schedule early in the year. While the program is actually an adaptation of an overseas format, viewers could have confused it as a one-hour version of the Red Faces segment from Hey Hey It’s Saturday – also as one of the show’s judges was Red Faces icon Red Symons. The series was to be won by 12-year-old singer Bonnie Anderson.

Dancing With The Stars scored controversy from within its own network when Today Tonight ran a report questioning that funds raised by the show’s SMS voting were being properly funneled to their respective charitable causes. Despite the stories, Dancing scored very well in the ratings, though did not match the numbers of previous series. Celebrity winners were Kate Ceberano in series six, and actor Bridie Carter in series seven later in the year.

Following the end of series seven of Dancing, host Somers decided it was time to move on. There were media reports that Somers had left after being refused some pressing demands on Seven and the show’s producer Granada International. Other reports suggested that there was still some unease at Somers working for Seven chief David Leckie, the same executive that axed Somers’ long-running Hey Hey It’s Saturday at Nine in 1999. A replacement host has yet to be found for Dancing, though rumours suggest that former Home And Away actor Tim Campbell (also a former Dancing contestant, and host of National Bingo Night), Deal Or No Deal host Andrew O’Keefe or even Somers’ former sidekick Sonia Kruger could take the coveted role.

In between Dancing With The Stars‘ two series this year was another series of It Takes Two which ran very successfully last year on Sunday nights, and continued to score well for Seven this year. The singing competition, hosted by former Sunrise weatherman Grant Denyer and Gold Logie winner Kate Ritchie, was won by All Saints actor Jolene Anderson (pictured).

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/the-year-that-was-8-reality-check.html

The Year That Was… #7: Nine and WIN fight it out

This year’s big TV battle wasn’t just the high profile ratings stoush between Seven and Nine, it was also a boardroom battle between Nine and its largest regional affiliate WIN Television.

For almost twenty years WIN had enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Nine as its affiliate in regional markets in New South Wales (including the Australian Capital Territory), Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia with a schedule dominated by Nine Network product.

This year saw that somewhat cosy relationship almost fall to pieces as the affiliation agreement which gave WIN access to Nine’s program supply was up for renewal. WIN owner Bruce Gordon (pictured) had been mates with Nine’s owner Kerry Packer – but now with Packer passed away, and Nine no longer controlled by the Packer family, with a new management structure in place and a majority now owned by private equity firm CVC Asia-Pacific, it was now a different playing field.

Nine made it clear to Gordon that they now wanted to increase the premium that WIN already paid for the rights to Nine’s programs in its regional markets. The previous agreement between Nine and WIN had the regional network paying around 32% of all revenue to Nine in return for its program feed – a higher rate than WIN’s competitors were paying other networks Seven and Ten, but Gordon agreed as Nine was the top rating network and so therefore allowed WIN to also charge a premium to advertisers as its ratings would have followed Nine’s trend.

The new deal reportedly put forward by Nine was for WIN to pay 50% of all revenue for access to Nine’s programs, and also to lock WIN into a long-term deal up to ten years. Gordon felt such an increase was not justified in the wake of Nine’s lowered ratings performance which saw the network beaten this year by arch rival Seven, and also did not want to agree to such a costly deal for a lengthy ten-year term.

The negotiations between Nine and WIN appeared to make little progress – Nine wasn’t prepared to budge from its original offer, and Gordon wasn’t prepared to meet Nine on its terms. The process became very public as Gordon was happy to talk to the press about what he felt was an unjustified rate increase by Nine. Gordon also publicly questioned some of Nine’s programming decisions which, under the affiliation deal, WIN is normally obliged to emulate.

As the existing agreement lapsed, the situation turned nasty as WIN started pulling Nine programs off its schedule and replacing with programs it had sourced itself. Gordon is well established in international TV circles, having worked for many years as an execute with Paramount Television, and made the claim that WIN did not need Nine’s program supply to be sustainable, and could instead source its own programs independently – creating an unprecedented move to establishing a competitive independent regional network not to be fed programs from one of the capital city networks.

Separate to the affiliation negotiations, WIN was also in battle against Nine’s owner PBL Media as both were vying for control of the Nine Network’s affiliate stations in Perth and Adelaide – which were owned by Sunraysia Television and Southern Cross Broadcasting respectively. Sunraysia had accepted an offer by PBL Media to buy its STW9 Perth, which was less than a similar bid that WIN had already made – highlighting a long-running feud between Gordon and Sunraysia chief Eva Presser. WIN then took legal action against PBL’s offer, and eventually won control of STW9 for $163 million. The battle for control of NWS9 Adelaide was less frantic, as WIN bought the station for $105 million.

WIN also fought Nine for control over Northern NSW regional broadcaster NBN – representing a market of around 2 million viewers, making it comparable in size to a number of capital cities. The battle for NBN was not won by WIN, as PBL Media gained control for around $250 million.

With WIN now owning Nine’s affiliates in Perth and Adelaide, this gave them a stronger negotiation position in forcing Nine to review its affiliation demands – although NWS9’s program supply from Nine was assured as it had already entered into a renewed deal by its previous owners – because if WIN pulled out of the Nine program feed to its regional markets as well as Perth, that would severely impact Nine’s direct revenue as WIN’s affiliation potentially contributes as much as 30 per cent of Nine’s revenue. And the addition of the Perth and Adelaide markets to its portfolio meant WIN now had extra buying power in negotiating its own program supply deals away from Nine.

But Gordon’s ambition to program WIN independently from Nine was not a flawless proposition. Despite Gordon’s industry connections, it would be a challenge to be able to program WIN with a 24-hour schedule that would be competitive against the network-sourced offerings of its rivals. WIN would also have to source, fund or produce a required quota of Australian program content – with individual quotas also applied to first-run children’s and drama programming. Being of largely regional operations, WIN would have lacked the necessary infrastructure, at least in the short term, to support such levels of local production

An independently-programmed WIN would also hit walls in negotiating supply deals with the major US distributors as most of them are locked into exclusive deals with the Australian Seven, Nine and Ten networks – possibly preventing WIN entering into its own contracts.

Basically, WIN needs Nine as much as Nine needs WIN.

Gordon’s next play in the negotiations was to go through – to a small but significant extent – with his threat to withdraw from the Nine partnership. WIN had managed to switch its South Australian outlets (SES8 Mt Gambier and RTS5A Riverland) from a Nine Network format, to a Seven Network affiliation – effectively taking Nine’s programming out of the reach of viewers in those markets as the only other local commercial TV outlet there is a Network Ten relay, also operated by WIN. The total number of viewers this represents is small in comparison to WIN’s other markets but its entering into a deal with Seven showed that Gordon was willing to explore other options to Nine in sourcing programs

The deal between WIN and Seven proved to be the final straw in negotiations, as barely days later, WIN and Nine announced they had reached an agreement for its other regional markets, and for STW9 Perth, which would reportedly see WIN paying 35 per cent of all revenue for Nine’s program feed over a five-year period.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/the-year-that-was-7-nine-and-win-fight-it-out.html

Twas the night before Christmas

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Australia’s biggest Christmas carols event, Carols By Candlelight.

The idea for Carols By Candlelight was conceived by Melbourne radio identity Norman Banks, who in 1937 was strolling along a suburban street after a late-night on-air shift when he witnessed an elderly woman, her face lit only by candlelight, singing along to carols on the radio. This inspired Banks to approach his employer, radio station 3KZ, to put together the first Carols By Candlelight event on Christmas Eve the following year.

The first Carols By Candlelight was attended by 10,000 people at Melbourne’s Alexandra Gardens. The following year, 40,000 attended the event which began at 11.00pm and ended with a reproduction of the chimes of London’s Big Ben at midnight.

The first well-known identity to perform at Carols was Gladys Moncrieff in 1942 – hence beginning a Carols tradition of featuring famous performers.

From its earliest days, Carols By Candlelight operated as a fund-raiser for charitable causes. From 1949 the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (now Vision Australia) was selected as one of the main recipients of proceeds from the event. In 1965, RVIB became the sole beneficiary from the event.

The first telecast of Carols By Candlelight was presented by GTV9 as part of its pre-launch test transmissions in 1956, but it did not become an annual telecast until picked up by Melbourne’s ATV0 in 1969 — also the first year that RVIB took over the running of Carols from 3KZ. Three years later, the telecast was extended to other stations in the 0-10 Network, and in 1974 was televised for the first time in colour.

The Nine Network took over as the telecast partner of the event in 1979. GTV9 newsreader Brian Naylor took on the role of host for ten years before it was handed to national network identity Ray Martin.

Despite its early connections to radio station 3KZ, the radio broadcast partner for Carols By Candlelight has changed a number of times. In more recent times the event has been broadcast by Melbourne radio stations 3AW and Magic 1278, and relayed across Australia through its network of sister stations and also by Vision Australia’s own national radio network.

This year’s Carols By Candlelight will mark the 50th year the event has been held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Performers this year will include former Australian Idol winner Anthony Callea (who is also the ambassador of this year’s event), The Choir Of Hard Knocks (from the ABC series of earlier this year), the Australian cast of the stage production Guys And Dolls, Kate Ceberano, Rachael Beck, Ian Stenlake and Carols regulars Hi-5, Denis Walter, Marina Prior and Silvie Paladino.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Vision Australia’s Carols By Candlelight. Christmas Eve, 24 December, 9.00pm, repeated at 1.30pm Christmas Day, on Nine*

Source: Vision Australia
Picture: TV Week, 26 December 1981
* Melbourne. Other areas check local guides

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/twas-the-night-before-christmas.html

The Year That Was… #6: Drama makes a comeback

The year 2006 brought on all sorts of doom and gloom about TV drama production; ABC didn’t have money to make any, Seven had axed Blue Heelers after 12 years of loyal service, Ten had some luck with telemovies but Tripping Over didn’t fare so well, and their only ongoing production was the veteran soap Neighbours, and Nine had only McLeod’s Daughters as the main project on its drama slate.

However, the corner was turned this year as a number of new projects came to fruition and one old-timer got a new coat of paint.

The big newcomers this year were City Homicide (pictured, above) and Sea Patrol – with these shows headlining the crucial battle between arch rivals Seven and Nine, both shows were given huge budgets, lots of live action, and both also promised familiar faces – Shane Bourne, Noni Hazelhurst, Nadine Garner, Aaron Pedersen and Damien Richardson on City Homicide, and Lisa McCune, Ian Stenlake, Josh Lawson, Kristian Schmid and Jay Ryan on Sea Patrol.

Both programs earned strong ratings figures, though City Homicide was perhaps more consistent than its Nine rival however both series have been renewed for 2008.

ABC did manage to get some dramas to air during this year; the rural/farming drama Rain Shadow, the 1998 waterfront crisis in Bastard Boys and the historical Curtin starring William McInnes.

The year also saw an increased drama presence on SBS with a number of productions aired this year – all of which put new emphasis onto familiar themes. The Circuit put an outback and indigenous perspective onto legal drama but its 9.30 Sunday timeslot probably meant most viewers stayed oblivious to it.

Saturday evenings saw the much lighter drama of Kick (pictured, left) an eight-part series based in Melbourne’s multicultural suburb of Brunswick and featuring a diverse range of characters and cultures, though little is made of either. Hard to believe that Kick came from the same city that gives us the mono-cultural and sanitised Neighbours.

A late entry to SBS’ schedule this year was the Sydney-based East West 101, from the producers of ABC’s former series Wildside. Like with Kick, East West 101 was based in an area with a strong multicultural mix and covers the tensions that can come with that sort of diversity whether it be in the community or in the police force that is entrusted to protect it.

While all these new projects were seeing the light of day, one old-stager Neighbours was also in the spotlight. Ratings for the suburban soap have dropped in recent years in the wake of the high-profile battle between current affairs shows Today Tonight and A Current Affair in the same timeslot. With a healthy injection of funds to flow on from the show’s shift in the UK from BBC to Channel 5 – in a deal worth around $A700m over ten years – the show’s producers decided this year was the time to give the series a much-needed revamp to boost its profile in its home country.

A two-month teaser campaign on Ten promised ‘a change is coming’ and when the red-letter day, 23 July, arrived there were certainly changes but probably not as significant as the publicity had perhaps indicated. Sure there was a new family moving into Ramsay Street, there were some new sets and some more location filming, and the signature tune was re-worked, as was the iconic Neighbours logo, but apart from these rather superficial changes, there was little else to notice. Producers have been at pains to point out, however, that the revival of Neighbours is a work in progress and now with a new executive producer (Susan Bower) in charge, the changes are set to continue. Neighbours‘ ratings did take a spike when 23 July came and went, but soon settled back to familiar territory around the 600-700k mark – not a desirable position for a prime-time Aussie-made production but it still rates well in its desired demographic and gives Ten valuable drama content points.

Ten this year also gave us Murder In The Outback – The Joanne Lees Story which traced the mystery surrounding the murder of British tourist Peter Falconio, told from the perspective of his partner Joanne Lees.

Meanwhile at Seven, their drama content was well kept up by Home And Away and All Saints. Both series earning great results this year which considering the age of both programs (Home And Away is now up to its twentieth anniversary, and All Saints is up to ten years) is an amazing effort.

The Nine Network’s long-running McLeod’s Daughters limped through 2007 as producers may have struggled to find a way to keep finding long-lost ‘daughters’ to replace outgoing cast members. The series suffered a ratings drop this year, and Nine has already announced that the 2008 series will be its last.

The drama on our screens wasn’t just on the free-to-air networks either. This year Foxtel came up with more of Love My Way starring Claudia Karvan, new series Dangerous, the adults-only drama Satisfaction and the award winning telemovie The King: The Graham Kennedy Story (pictured) starring Stephen Curry.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/the-year-that-was-6-drama-makes-a-comeback.html

Christmas cheer from SBS! (1983)

More cheesy celebrity smiles at Christmas! Christmas usually brings out the inevitable Santa costumes – and in 1983, Network 0/28 host Basia Bonkowski was no exception, accompanied by newsreader George Donikian who instead opted for the traditional Greek costume.

Source: TV Week, 24 December 1983

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/12/christmas-cheer-from-sbs-1983.html