“Aunty” turns 75

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.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/06/aunty-turns-75.html

Jim Robinson ‘spotted’ in UK Channel 4 promo

Despite his growing profile as an actor in the United States with roles in some of the country’s most popular series, Alan Dale still can’t quite shake off the stigma of being ‘Jim Robinson’ in the veteran Aussie soap Neighbours – a role which he departed almost fifteen years ago. So much is he still associated with the character in the United Kingdom that Dale now appears in the latest series of station promos for UK commercial network Channel 4.

In the promo which debuted earlier this week during the launch of the latest series of Big Brother, Dale is discussing his acting career in a mock interview, only to be interrupted by an Aussie fan recognising him as Jim Robinson.

The promo is among a series of tongue-in-cheek advertisements for the channel featuring a number of faces familiar to British viewers.

Dale, a former New Zealander who became known in Australia for his role in the soap The Young Doctors, was part of the original cast of Neighbours when it began on the Seven Network in 1985 and continued through the series’ halcyon days heralded by young co-stars Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. He left the series in 1993 and with his wife Tracey, a former Miss Australia and television presenter, went to the United States where he scored roles in series such as The OC, Lost, 24 and Ugly Betty.

Full story: Media Guardian
(Picture: Network Ten, 1990)

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/06/jim-robinson-spotted-in-uk-channel-4-promo.html

Rosemary Margan signs off after 42 years

For 42 years, Rosemary Margan has been a consistent, if not understated, voice on Melbourne radio and television – presenting weather forecasts and commercials and was also a long-standing presenter at TV Week Logie Awards nights in the 1970s. But now, just short of her 70th birthday, the gentle voice of Rosemary is being retired from the airwaves with her final live-to-air appearance on radio 3AW.

A former water-ski champion, Rosemary’s television career began at GTV9 in 1965 presenting the nightly weather forecast – causing a storm of her own when one night she appeared on-air in a fur coat which was removed to reveal her wearing no more than a bikini. A decade later, Rosemary was presenting a live-to-air commercial on The Graham Kennedy Show when her spiel was interrupted by Graham’s suspect “crow call” which created headlines and got him banned from appearing on live television.


For almost 20 years, Rosemary has been the voice of live-to-air commercials on Neil Mitchell‘s morning program on 3AW.

(Pictured: Rosemary Margan, guest Edward Woodward and host Bert Newton at the 1975 TV Week Logie Awards. Picture: TV WEEK)

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/04/rosemary-margan-signs-off-after-42-years.html

Justine Saunders

Justine Saunders, one of Australia’s most prominent indigenous actresses of the 1970s and 1980s, has died in Sydney after a battle with cancer.
Born in Queensland in 1953, Saunders came to prominence in the 1970s in the Nine Network series Luke’s Kingdom before scoring an ongoing role as Rhonda in Number 96 in 1976. Later TV roles followed in Against The Wind, Prisoner and Women Of The Sun.

Movie roles included The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith and The Fringe Dwellers.

Saunders was also involved in theatre, helping to establish the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust and the Black Theatre, as well as a number of stage roles.

In more recent years, Saunders appeared in television series such as Farscape and MDA.

(Picture: TV Week, 5 June 1976)

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/04/justine-saunders.html

The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal

In most parts of the country the telethon is only a fading memory – there was a time when each city, and even some regional areas, had at least one telethon aired during the year. A lot of these have long gone but a few still remain.

Perth’s TVW7 still produces an annual telethon – raising funds for local children’s charities since 1968. The TVW appeal has raised over $73 million since its inception.

In Melbourne, the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal has been an annual tradition since 1931. The appeal began as a sports carnival hosted by newspaper The Sporting Globe (published by the Herald and Weekly Times). Just over a decade later, radio station 3DB (also of the Herald Weekly Times group) joined the appeal.

Television arrived in Melbourne in 1956, and the new Herald and Weekly Times television station HSV7 conducted its first telethon in 1957 in association with 3DB and The Sporting Globe.

Even when all three media outlets were split up to separate owners in 1987, the Good Friday Appeal continued between them. It is only in 2007 that the first major change in the partnership has occurred with Southern Cross Broadcasting (radio stations 3AW and Magic) taking on the radio component of the Appeal, effectively ending a 65-year relationship between the Good Friday Appeal and 3DB (then 3TT, TTFM and Mix 101.1) The telethon also has the support of regional Victoria through the co-operation of Prime Television relaying and contributing to the HSV7 broadcast.

The appeal has continued with overwhelming support – usually breaking record totals every year. In 1968, the Appeal raised $400,000. Less than a decade later, the first $1 million final total was reached. In 2006, over $10 million was raised to fund research and major projects at the hospital. In total, since 1931, over $160 million has been raised for the hospital – enabling it to maintain its reputation as a leading paediatric hospital.

(Pictured: HSV7 weathergirl Debbie Phin and a young patient, promoting the 1976 Good Friday Appeal on the cover of Listener In-TV)

Update @ 12.05am 7.4.07: The 2007 Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal has signed off with a record total of $11,788,970.87 – exceeding last year’s total by over $1.5 million.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/04/the-royal-childrens-hospital-good-friday-appeal.html

TV Week Logie Awards announce nominations

TV Week has announced its nominations for the upcoming 2007 TV Week Logie Awards.

While a lot of the popular-voted categories might bring groans of “Who?” from anyone over the age of 18 – there are a couple of surprises particularly in the Gold Logie nominations:

Bert Newton – host of 18 Logie Awards presentations, and winner of 5 Gold Logies including a Hall Of Fame in 1988 – is nominated for Gold this year. This follows his return to the Nine Network last year and a return to prime time TV after 20 years (14 of those doing Good Morning Australia on Ten) as presenter of 20 To 01 as well as the early evening Bert’s Family Feud.

John Wood, after being nominated 11 times for the Gold Logie before finally winning in 2006, is also nominated this year. A surprising nomination given that Wood appeared on TV only briefly during 2006 as Blue Heelers came to a low-key end. His only other appearances on TV were some Melbourne-only productions for Seven and Nine.

John Howard – no not the Prime Minister but rather the actor of All Saints fame. All Saints has enjoyed strong popularity in recent times, helped by the massive lead-in from hit show Dancing With The Stars (whose host Daryl Somers has been a noteable exclusion from the nominees list this year), and Howard has been a key player in the series for several years. He is also known from strong performances in Always Greener and Seachange.

The full list of nominations can be found at The Age online.

The 2007 TV Week Logie Awards will be presented from Crown Casino, Melbourne, on Sunday 6 May and telecast nationally through the Nine Network.

(Pictured: Bert Newton winning the 1982 TV Week Gold Logie, with guest presenters Olivia Newton-John and Britt Ekland)

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/04/tv-week-logie-awards-announce-nominations.html

Two more birthdays in regional NSW

Regional TV was growing at a great rate in NSW in 1962 – with two local commercial stations launching on 17 and 18 March respectively.

CBN8, based in Orange in the Central Tablelands region of NSW, was launched on 17 March 1962. CBN8 would later partner with CWN6 which began in 1965 in nearby Dubbo. Like many regional channels, CBN-CWN maintained a strong presence in their respective areas with local productions supplementing national or imported programs.

By the 1980s, CBN-CWN struck up a partnership with MTN9 in Griffith and the three station network was to be known as MidState Television 6-8-9 (later dropping the channel numbers from the logo). By the end of the decade, MTN9 had split from the partnership and CBN-CWN (now joined by RVN2 in Wagga Wagga) were about to enter the bold new world of aggregation as part of the newly formed Prime Television.

In March 1989, Prime expanded into the Canberra and Illawarra regions as the Seven Network affiliate. In 1990, the first year of surveys for the expanded Southern NSW market, Prime was dominant against its two new commercial rivals WIN and Capital.

Launching on 18 March 1962 was WIN4 Wollongong. WIN faced its own uphill battle in its early days, striking resistance from Sydney channels ATN7 and TCN9 when it became apparant that WIN4’s signal would overlap theirs, and potentially take viewers from the Sydney channels. WIN was also faced with the dilemma of the VHF channel 4 frequency being assigned new broadcasting parameters, meaning that older TV sets had to be re-tuned to now pick up channel 4.
WIN however overcame these hurdles and maintained a strong local programming lineup and also managed to produce some off-peak programs to be syndicated to the capital city networks.

By the 1970s, Rupert Murdoch had taken control of WIN4 but sold his interests in the channel later in the decade to Bruce Gordon. Murdoch went on to gain a controlling interest in TEN10 Sydney and ATV0 Melbourne which he maintained until the late 1980s.

Under Gordon’s control, WIN took on aggregation in Southern NSW expanding its signal as the Nine Network affiliate. WIN also took control of Queensland regional station RTQ7 Rockhampton, and in a deal which shook Queensland’s regional TV in the lead up to aggregation, bought out RTQ7’s sister station DDQ0 Toowoomba, snatched the Nine Network affiliation from Townsville-based QTV and re-badged the RTQ/DDQ network from Star Television to WIN.

The 1990s saw WIN’s operations also expand to take over Nine’s regional affiliates in Victoria and Tasmania as well as buying up regional stations MTN9 Griffith, SES8 Mt Gambier and RTS5A Riverland, and successfully bidding for the new second commercial licence in regional Western Australia.

From what began as a single TV station in 1962, the WIN network now covers most of regional Australia. Bruce Gordon maintains sole ownership of WIN as well as investments in other properties such as the Ten Network, Sunraysia Television, SelecTV and radio stations C91.3 in Campbelltown and I98 Wollongong.

TelevisionAU: Aggregation

External Links:
austvhistory: WIN
austvhistory: CBN
Australian TV Archive: MidState Television
Australian TV Archive: WIN4

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/03/two-more-birthdays-in-regional-nsw.html

“The night Australian TV lost its virginity……….”

It was thirty five years ago tonight, 13 March, that Australian TV ‘lost its virginity’ with the tell-all tales of life in a suburban block of flats in Sydney – Number 96.

The critics hated it, the censors constantly monitored it, and the viewers couldn’t get enough of it – as Number 96 became compulsive viewing five nights a week. The novelty of Australia’s first major prime-time soap, bundled with racy storylines, melodramatic cliff-hangers, comic relief, and generous amounts of flesh, helped the financially challenged 0-10 Network to its first ratings win.

The characters from Number 96 became cult heroes and also added quite a number of phrases into the language (most of which came from the prattling Dorrie Evans). Also, at a time when Australia was still in the grips of the White Australia policy, Number 96 embraced multiculturalism with various nationalities and cultures represented – perhaps not always in the most appropriate light – but was groundbreaking nevertheless.

The popularity of the series was reflected in the swag of awards it won during its five year run – including several TV Week Logie Awards for Best Drama, and also a Gold Logie for Pat McDonald in 1974 – and a movie spin-off that gave fans the chance to see their favourite apartment block in colour when TV was still in black and white.

Number 96 finally came to a halt in 1977, after a record breaking 1218 episodes but the series had proven that soap opera drama could be a viable prime time format. Though while it was a hit in Australia, America’s NBC network was not so lucky when it adapted the series for US audiences in 1980, though it could be said that the Americans embraced the concept a generation later in the guise of Melrose Place.

TelevisionAU: Number 96

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/03/the-night-australian-tv-lost-its-virginity.html

Happy Birthday NBN3!

It was this day, 4 March, forty five years ago that New South Wales’ first regional station NBN3 began transmission from studios in Mosbri Crescent, Newcastle, and transmitter located at Mt Sugarloaf, covering Newcastle and the Hunter Valley region.

NBN was unlike many regional stations in that it was one of the first to have to deal with competition. Most regional areas (up until aggregation) were served by only one commercial station and the non-commercial national broadcaster ABC, however it was quickly apparent that a large portion of NBN’s coverage area also received fortuitous coverage of the Sydney television stations. However in 1979 it was reported that despite the competing signals from Sydney, NBN still managed a 60 per cent share of the local audience – attributed largely to NBN’s emphasis on local production and supporting the local community through such ventures as their annual telethon.

In the early 1970s, NBN launched what may have been Australia’s first one-hour evening news bulletin – combining local, national and international news stories – a format that continues to this day.

In 1991, the implementation of aggregation saw NBN expand its coverage area across Northern NSW and the Gold Coast – increasing its audience reach from 500,000 to over 1 million, in competition with other regional operators Prime and NRTV (now Southern Cross Ten), as well as ABC and SBS. NBN not only continues to dominate in the Newcastle/Hunter region but is also dominant across the Northern NSW market, maintaining market shares not seen in any other competitive market.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/03/happy-birthday-nbn3.html

Whatever happened to …. ?

While watching the TV in the waiting room at the GP’s today, i was confronted by what is known as Good Health Television.. basically a “channel” of segments discussing various health topics.

While this concept is nothing new, it has apparently been playing in doctors waiting rooms for 15 years, I was surprised to see a somewhat familiar face presenting some of the segments… former Network Ten newsreader of the 1980s, Jo Pearson.

Ms Pearson (and weatherman husband Rob Gell) made headlines when they packed up from ATV10 Melbourne to go to Nine with a rumoured $1m contract in 1987. Rob continued with Nine until only recently (and is now appearing on Seven News in Melbourne), but Jo had less success at Nine hosting ill-fated late-afternoon shows such as Live At Five and Body & Soul, before returning to ATV10 perhaps a bit wiser in 1991. After two years back at Eyewitness News, she vanished again and then re-surfaced on ABC‘s TVTV program.

(Picture: Nine Network, 1988 )

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2007/03/whatever-happened-to.html