TelevisionAU Update 10-Apr-09

saleofthecentury_1991 FLASHBACK PICTURE #50:
The Nine Network‘s long-running quiz show Sale Of The Century was dropped a bombshell early in 1991 when hosts Tony Barber and Alyce Platt both decided to leave the program.  Barber had hosted the program since its inception in 1980, and Platt had been with the show since 1986.  Producers took a gamble when it chose to replace Barber with Glenn Ridge, a TV host whose only prior on-air experience was in regional television.  Joining Ridge on the new-look Sale Of The Century was Jo Bailey who had recently joined the show as a model but had no idea she was being considered for the co-host role.  And the new-look Sale was given a warm welcome by Seven Network rival Derryn Hinch: “We’ll kick its teeth in.”  Picture: TV Week, 13 April 1991

1960 (The Hi-Fi Club)
1977 (Final episode Homicide)
1988 (Melbourne Cup Day)
1993 (TV Week Logie Awards)
1994 (ATV10’s 30th anniversary)
1996 (Australian TV turns 40)

1983 (New Faces’ 20th Anniversary)

1992 (Sex)

Western Australia:



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1979: April 7-13

tvtimes_070479The Prisoner Files
So who’s who on both sides of the bars at Wentworth Detention Centre?  TV Times presents a special guide to the prisoners and officers in the new 0-10 Network series.

Karen Travers (Peita Toppano): Deeply religious, Travers is convicted for the murder of her brutal husband.  Sentenced to life behind bars.  Peita Toppano, the daughter of showbusiness couple Enzo Toppano and Peggy Mortimer, was a singer in many stage productions before turning to acting.

Bea Smith (Val Lehman):  A former hairdresser, Smith was convicted for the murder of a co-worker.  Having served ten years behind bars, she is released on parole but returns to Wentworth after murdering her husband.  Val Lehman has had extensive acting experience in both Australia and the United Kingdom, including touring with Children’s Arena theatre and appearing in four movies.

prisoner_mum Jeannie “Mum” Brooks (Mary Ward, pictured):  A well-spoken, gentle woman who befriends new inmates and is well regarded by both officers and inmates.  Brooks was convicted for murdering her husband but, while on parole, is caught shop-lifting.  Mary Ward has worked in Australia and the United Kingdom, and before Prisoner had appeared in Bellbird and performed for the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Doreen Anderson (Colette Mann): A victim of child abuse, Anderson becomes easily led into crime and is serving four years in prison for breaking and entering.  Colette Mann’s career began in the musical Godspell in 1971 and has since worked as a singer, dancer, actress and choreographer.

Marilyn Mason (Margaret Laurence):  Serving twelve months for soliciting, Mason has a history of soliciting and stealing, and is known to have worked in a pornographic movie.  Margaret Laurence did her early theatre training in the United Kingdom and later worked in the US in dramas including Days Of Our Lives and The Young And The Restless.  Since coming to Australia, Laurence has appeared in Number 96 and worked for the Melbourne Theatre Company.

prisoner_franky Freida “Franky” Doyle (Carol Burns): A former shop assistant, convicted for armed robbery and murder, Doyle has a record of association with bikie gangs.  She is a lesbian with an unrequited passion for Karen Travers.  Carol Burns has worked extensively in the theatre since 1970 and has worked as a senior lecturer in drama at the Darling Downs College of Advanced Education (Queensland).  In recent times, Burns has appeared in a number of ABC plays.

Lynn Warner (Kerry Armstrong): A naive country girl, serving ten years for the kidnapping and attempted murder of a child of an employer, though maintains her innocence of any crime.  Kerry Armstrong began acting while still at school and later became a weather girl at GTV9 Melbourne.  She has recently appeared in Cop Shop, The Truckies and The Sullivans, but Prisoner is her first ongoing role.

prisoner_lizzie Elizabeth “Lizzie” Birdsworth (Sheila Florance, pictured): A housewife and mother of four, Birdsworth is a kleptomaniac and an alcoholic with a long string of convictions for theft.  She is sentenced to life in prison for the “accidental” killing of four shearers when she laced their food with arsenic “to teach them a lesson.”  Sheila Florance has more than 45 years experience in showbusiness across both Australia and the United Kingdom, and has appeared in many Australian TV productions including Consider Your Verdict, Division Four, Matlock Police, Bellbird, Homicide and Bobby Dazzler.

Meg Jackson (Elspeth Ballantyne): Born inside prison, Jackson is a warder that is sympathetic to the inmates.  A happy marriage to prison psychologist Bill (Don Barker) ended abruptly when he is murdered during a prison riot.  Elspeth Ballantyne is an established television and film actress with roles in dramas including Bellbird, Power Without Glory and Cop Shop.

Vera Bennett (Fiona Spence):  A harsh prison warden who is ruthless with the prisoners.  Is hopeful that her strong rule with get her the prison governorship.  She is single and lives at home with her elderly mother.  Fiona Spence is a recent graduate from 680 Playhouse and has appeared in the drama series Glenview High and in several television commercials.

prisoner_erica Erica Davidson (Patsy King): The prison governor whose academic approach sometimes keeps her remote from the inmates and fails to understand their passions and frustrations.  Is married but her private life is kept a mystery as it is known she does not see her husband, being either separated or divorced.  Patsy King has worked extensively in Australia and New Zealand, including roles in Matlock Police, Homicide and Division Four, as well as appearing as a presenter on ABC’s Play School.

Greg Miller (Barry Quin): The prison doctor who is re-united with a former romantic interest when Karen Travers enters the prison.  Barry Quin is an actor with over ten years experience in the United Kingdom.  He met co-star Peita Toppano when touring Australia with the Chichester Festival Theatre Company and the two are now engaged to be married later this month.

Eddie Cook (Richard Moir): The electrician who is often called to the prison and spends a lot more time there than he should after falling for prison inmate Marilyn Mason.  Richard Moir is a former film assistant from ABC’s Four Corners and later became a reporter for A Current Affair before moving into acting.  Moir has appeared in Chopper Squad and The Restless Years as well as the movie The Odd Angry Shot.

Certain Women stars return to TV soaps
Three former stars of ABC’s Certain Women are returning to TV with key roles in The Restless Years and The Young DoctorsShane Porteous joins The Restless Years as businessman Andrew Nelson who becomes involved in what is being described as “the love story of the year.”  Also joining The Restless Years is Ivar Kants as the rough-but-gentle Ken Garrett, a friend of Peter Beckett (Nick Hedstrom).  Actress Carmen Duncan, who has also starred in Number 96, joins The Young Doctors as a widow who checks into the hospital for a minor operation but ends up vying for the affection of Dr Rod Langley (Chris Orchard).

bertnewton_cigar Bert hits the jackpot
Bert Newton (pictured) has hit the jackpot with the signing of a five-year contract with a Melbourne radio station for a reported $1 million.  But the Don Lane Show sidekick and New Faces host has also had reason to celebrate with wife Patti giving birth to their second child, Lauren Elise.  The Newtons already have a son, two-year-old Matthew.

New ABBA special
The 0-10 Network and British broadcaster BBC have just completed a one-hour TV special ABBA In Switzerland – despite two of the pop group’s performers, Agnetha and Bjorn, having recently divorced.  The special, which also features Kate Bush, Leo Sayer and Boney M, is expected to screen in Australia later in the year.

Easter is a time for telethons – as Melbourne’s HSV7, Brisbane’s BTQ7 and Adelaide’s ADS7 prepare for their annual children’s hospital appeals.  The Melbourne and Brisbane appeals will go to air on Good Friday, while Adelaide’s telethon is held on the Saturday before Easter.

The star of ABC’s Patrol Boat, HMAS Bombard, has been towed back to Sydney for repairs after a fire onboard caused extensive damage.  ABC is now rescheduling filming as the stand-in boat, HMAS Advance, is about to be recalled for official duty.

The Nine Network’s million-dollar documentary series, The Africans, has been sold to 18 countries ahead of its screening in Australia later this month.  The two-part series was filmed over four months in Algeria, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Rhodesia and South Africa. 

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”Once again I’ve missed the start of a program because channels won’t stick to their timetables.  I watched ABC’s The Onedin Line until 9.20pm and the news until 9.30, then crossed to WIN4 for The Sweeney only to find it well-started, although it was due to begin at 9.30 after Roving Eye.  Why do they do this?” E. James, NSW.

“Why is there not a TV channel which shows only sport? They could show Test matches, races and re-runs for seven days a week.  The rest of us could then be informed and entertained without constant interruptions by meaningless contests.” P. Casey, NSW.

“I would like to say how much I enjoy watching The Waltons during daytime viewing.  Grandma Walton passed a comment on putting strawberries and cinnamon on a rhubarb pie.  I cooked it this way and found it delicious, a nice change from apples.” D. Pratt, NSW.

What’s On (April 7-13):
On Saturday afternoon, GTV9 presents live coverage of the Golden Slipper Stakes from Sydney’s Rosehill Racecourse.  ABC has Sydney Rugby League’s Match Of The Day.

On This Week Has Seven Days (HSV7, Saturday afternoon), host Honor Walters, with studio guest furrier Stephen Dattner, studies how a fur coat is made.  Interior Designing is the subject of the careers segment, and this week’s medical topic is dermatology.

The Australian Beauty Quest ‘79, the selection of the Australian representative for the Miss Universe pageant, is telecast on GTV9 on Saturday night, live from Perth. 

On Tuesday night, GTV9 presents a delayed telecast of the 51st Academy Awards.  Best Picture nominations include Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, Heaven Can Wait, Midnight Express and An Unmarried Woman.  The awards presentation is hosted by Johnny Carson.

ABC’s motoring history series Marque, with Peter Wherrett (pictured), looks at the era of the 1930s featuring some of the industry’s great names such as Duesenberg, Packard Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza and Alfa-Romeo.

rch_1979 Friday is Good Friday, and HSV7 presents its annual Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.  The telecast starts at 8.30am and, apart from news updates at 8.45am and midday and Seven National News at 6.30pm, continues through to midnight.  The all-day appeal features celebrities from across the Seven Network (including Shirley Strachan, pictured with hospital patient Narelle McKenzie) and guest artists including Johnny Farnham, Colleen Hewett, the Australian Children’s Choir, Christie Allen, Russell Morris and TMG.  Players from all VFL teams also appear during the day.  The telephone numbers for donations are (03) 630 291 in Melbourne and (052) 21 3333 in Geelong.

Sunday night movies: The Salzburg Connection (HSV7), Catch 22 (GTV9), The Arrangement (ATV0). 

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 7 April 1979.  ABC/ACP

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Everyone loves an April fool?

metrictime This site didn’t do anything for April Fool’s Day yesterday – however an April Fool’s gag that we published this time last year has become a hit.

Last year we featured There’s an April fool born every centiday, documenting a TV Times report from 1975 when the Adelaide version of ABC’s This Day Tonight program ran the story that we were going to adopt metric time.

The report, presented by Nigel Starck (pictured) and featuring South Australian deputy premier Des Corcoran and even a metric-converted clock at Adelaide’s town hall, caused a great deal of confusion, leading to ABC’s switchboard getting calls from viewers well after the report had aired.

Since that post was made to the blog, the story was discovered by the website Museum Of Hoaxes and even ranked the gag at #15 in the Top 100 April Fool’s Day hoaxes of all time.  The mere mention of the hoax story on the site, particularly in the last couple of days, has seen traffic to our original blog post take a huge spike – a spike not seen since an episode of 20 To 01 ranked ‘nudity at Number 96’ among its most memorable moments in television, and sent web browsers around the country seeking evidence of said nudity.

So a big cheerio to Museum Of Hoaxes!

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SBS adds to digital offering

sbs_2008 The managing director of SBS, Shaun Brown, has announced plans to relaunch the network’s digital channel currently known as SBS World News Channel.

Speaking at the Get Ready for Digital conference in Sydney, Mr Brown announced that the new channel, SBS2, will replace the World News Channel on 1 June.

SBS2 will feature a mix of programming content including time-shifted programming from the main SBS channel, more foreign movies, sports and documentaries.  From the outset it appears that it could be an SBS version of ABC2.

Signature sporting events such as the Ashes and the Tour de France could get greater coverage on SBS2 although the Ashes will continue to be shown on the SBS1 channel.

In announcing the new channel, Mr Brown said that some initiatives within the broadcaster had been put on hold in order to allow SBS2 to get up and running prior to getting full Government funding support.  The broadcaster has asked the Government for $70 million a year for the next triennial funding period to support expansion of digital services which could also include further channels SBS3 and SBS4.

OneHD The announcement of the launch of SBS2 comes just days after Network Ten launched its high-definition sports channel One, and Ten chief Grant Blackley has today also flagged the possibility of launching an additional digital channel to sit between Ten and One.

Last week, Nine’s David Gyngell made vague noises about a new digital channel. And the Seven Network is still to lay its cards on the table as to its digital strategy despite chief David Leckie announcing over a month ago that an announcement would be imminent – and despite Seven being historically the only of the commercial networks to embrace the concept of multi-channelling.

And wishful thinking brings hope that today’s conference might shed some light on community television gaining access to the digital spectrum.  So far, only indigenous broadcaster NITV has been given access to broadcast on digital free-to-air, via trial service Digital 44 in Sydney.  The other community broadcasters – TVS Sydney, C31 Melbourne, QCTV Brisbane and C31 Adelaide – are still left wanting for access to digital.

Source: The Australian, The Australian

Related articles:
The wait is over for ONE
Nine comes to the digital party
NITV goes to Sydney
Stop the digital TV discrimination
Free lovin’ among the networks
TenHD becomes OneHD

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TV’s gold rush begins early

LogiehandWho was the most popular personality on Australian television in 2008?

The list of nominees for the major award for this year’s TV Week Logie Awards has found itself inadvertently promoted in advance of the awards’ launch party scheduled for today.

The Nine Network yesterday (Sunday) ran advertisements for the special edition of TV Week, due out today, promoting the list of nominees.  The ad was pulled after a couple of screenings but the cat was already out of the bag.

adamhillsSo, in no particular order, these are the nominees for the TV Week Gold Logie:

Rebecca Gibney (Packed To The Rafters)
Kate Ritchie (Home And Away)
Simmone Jade MacKinnon (McLeod’s Daughters)
Ian Smith (Neighbours)
Adam Hills (pictured. Spicks And Specks)
Andrew Denton (Enough Rope With Andrew Denton)
Natalie Bassingthwaighte (So You Think You Can Dance)
Rove McManus (Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, Rove)

The list contains a couple of curious names – particularly Kate Ritchie, whose only TV appearances last year were restricted to a couple of months in soapie Home And Away, and Simmone Jade MacKinnon, a barely familiar name from a series that the Nine Network barely ran last year before hiding the episodes away in an obscure timeslot over summer.  It could be easy to say that nominees such as these add fuel to the long-running speculation that the popular-voted categories are steered by over-zealous network publicity agents.  Though, why would Seven want to push Kate Ritchie’s profile from Home And Away when this year she’s been more famous for Nine’s Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities?  And why would Nine push for MacKinnon given the network’s lack lustre treatment of McLeod’s Daughters last year, which has been cancelled anyway.

Ian Smith is an obviously sentimental nomination from the public given his recent departure from Neighbours after over twenty years although his appearances in the show during 2008 were staggered as he actually left the program as a full-time cast member during 2007.

andrewdenton Adam Hills and Andrew Denton (pictured) presided over two of ABC’s most popular shows of last year.  Both were also nominated for the gold last year.

Former Neighbours star and member of the Rogue Traders, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, is host of So You Think You Can Dance which returned huge ratings for the Ten Network for its debut series last year.

Rove McManus has already won the Gold Logie three times now.  His Sunday night show had mixed but decent ratings results last year.

Rebecca Gibney, as one of the principle cast members of the ratings hit Packed To The Rafters and a long-running favourite with viewers over the years, must be a favourite to take the award this year.

Nominees for the other publicly-voted award categories will be announced at today’s launch function and will appear in this week’s TV Week.

The TV Week Logie Awards will be held in Melbourne on 3 May, hosted by Gretel Killeen and telecast across the Nine Network.

Source: Herald Sun

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1979: March 31-April 6

tvtimes_310379 TV’s Yorkshire terrier
British TV host Michael Parkinson (pictured) has conducted more than 500 interviews with some of the world’s most famous people and created many memorable moments – he once got stuck into Hollywood actor John Wayne over his political persuasions, almost got a thumping by an outraged Muhammed Ali, and had his belly-button tickled by Shirley MacLaine.  Now the famed TV interviewer is coming to Australia to host a series of seven shows for ABC.  Some of Parkinson’s guests set to appear over the coming weeks include Ita Buttrose, Mike Willesee, Don Lane, Bob Hawke, Mary Hardy, Phillip Adams and Kerry Packer

Julie’s back with a song in her heart
Just weeks ago, singer Julie Anthony was yet to know if a recurring throat problem would end her singing career for good.  A trip to Germany to visit throat specialist Dr Oscar Kleinasser resulted in micro-surgery using lasers.  Although Anthony could speak after the operation, she was told not to sing for several weeks.  However when she and her husband and manager, Eddie Natt, were travelling in a cable car up the tallest mountain in Germany, with a misty view of the Alps, Anthony was so awestruck by the view that she spontaneously burst into singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  It was music to her husband’s ears as it was the first time she’d sung since the operation.  The performer is now back in Australia and taking voice exercises in preparation for a TV special to begin production in just over a month.

gwenplumb Flower power
TV Times asked five TV celebrities about their gardens and for their personal gardening tips.  Bernard King’s advice: “The secret of growing plants in pots is to have some empathy with the plants.  You need to think of the places in the world where the plants grow naturally and try to provide them with as near as possible to those conditions.”  Actress Gwen Plumb’s (pictured) garden is a semi-tropical retreat overlooking Sydney’s northern beaches and, she says, “I talk to my plants, apologise to them if I have to prune them, and encourage them to grow.”  Fellow The Young Doctors actor Michael Beecher says that plants take care of themselves: “Apart from watering, you shouldn’t have to spend more than an hour a week in a garden.  That’s plenty of time.”  ABC gardening expert, Sow What host Kevin Heinze, says that the most simple, cheapest and most effective way to add to your stock of plants is to grow from cuttings.  And Cop Shop actor George Mallaby, a keen vegetable grower, is in the process of renovating his new Melbourne home and is working on rejuvenating its very neglected backyard. 

The Sullivans’ actress Susan Hannaford has been busy working on plans for the launch of her new winter fashion collection.  Already a Melbourne boutique has expressed plans to stock her designs for the upcoming season.

Popular British poet Pam Ayres is about to begin her second Australian tour and ABC is expected to screen a new series What’s On Next?, which features Ayres, next month.

Muhammad Ali, in Australia for the TV Week Logie Awards, has recently spent a day reciting poems for a series of commercials for a new throat lozenge.  It is not known how much he was paid for the commercials though it is known that his minimum price for any job or appearance is $100,000.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”I was watching Family Feud and one of the questions was ‘how many animals can be identified to have cloven feet?’  The answer ‘horse’ drew the highest score.  A horse has not got cloven feet – it is a foot or a hoof – not divided into two parts as ox, sheep, etc.  It’s rather hard on the contestants when the answers are wrong.” A. Hannon, NSW.

“I have just been watching The Mike Walsh Show and it has only increased my belief that there is no comparison between him and Steve Raymond.  Raymond may be a good interviewer, but that is where it stops – he asks only the questions to get the answers that he wants to hear, or thinks the viewers want to hear.” L. Skinner, QLD.

“I agree with G. Beaton (TV Times, 24 February 1979) on the lack of show-jumping coverage.  Show-jumping is a popular sport in Australia and it certainly is a difference after having to watch the same old cricket and tennis.” C. Erpel, NSW.

What’s On (March 31-April 6):
Weekend sport includes athletics from Olympic Park, Melbourne, live on ABC, followed by Sydney Rugby League’s Match Of The Day.

HSV7’s Saturday night football replays return for 1979 as the Victorian Football League makes a premature return with a game between Essendon and Carlton, originally scheduled for Round 3, played a week before Round 1 due to conflicts with regards to playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  Meanwhile, Richmond and Geelong compete on Tuesday night’s Australian Football Championships, live from VFL Park.

mikewillesee The first episode of Parkinson In Australia (ABC, Saturday) features Ita Buttrose, Mike Willesee (pictured) and Sir Robert Helpmann.  Guest stars on HSV7’s Saturday Night Live include Ron Barassi, Shirley Strachan, Joan McInnes and Ronnie Burns.

Neil Inall hosts the premiere edition of ABC’s rural affairs program Countrywide, screening on Sunday afternoon, followed by a re-run of the previous week’s Sow What? with Kevin Heinze.

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at crimes of the century, including the Pyjama Girl murder mystery and the kidnapping of Graeme Thorne, the son of a couple who had just won the Opera House Lottery.  The program also looks at the life of Melbourne’s 1920s gangster Squizzy Taylor.

HSV7’s afternoon children’s program Shirl’s Neighbourhood, hosted by Shirley Strachan, makes its debut.

colettemann In The Restless Years (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Tim (Jamie Gleeson) makes a shock announcement regarding his future.  While in Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Franky (Carol Burns) talks Lizzie (Sheila Florance) and Doreen (Colette Mann, pictured) into attempting an escape.

Sunday night movies: Rogue Male (HSV7), The Glass House (GTV9) and Mame (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 31 March 1979.  ABC/ACP

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Aggregation: Regional TV’s bold new era

tv_antenna Given a lot of recent discussion about the advent of the digital multi-channelling environment and the implications that it has for viewers, particularly outside the major metropolitan areas, it is interesting to see that two decades ago regional television was facing an earlier journey into a new era.

In the 1980s the Federal Government devised a scheme that would give viewers in regional areas of the populated eastern states the same level of choice as their city counterparts.  Up until then most regional areas in those states were served only by one local commercial channel and ABC while those in the capital cities were receiving ABC, SBS and three commercial channels.

By the mid-‘80s there was a plan drawn up by the Government to give these regional markets access to three commercial channels instead of one.  The plan was known as equalisation, achieved by the aggregation of multiple regional markets into one larger market.  The scheme would also see the rollout of the second national broadcaster, SBS, into regional areas.  At the time it was billed as the biggest change to Australian television since the introduction of colour.

primetimesThis expansion of regional operators into neighbouring markets posed a massive engineering and financial task as new studios, sales offices, news facilities and transmitter sites had to be installed and linked across the expanded market, and additional staff employed.  Studio infrastructure also had to be upgraded to allow the playout of program and advertising content to multiple regions and to allow each region to insert their own content such as local news and advertising.

Sales seminars were held to educate advertisers on the new competitive environment and promotional campaigns were setup to educate viewers on the new channels coming to their areas and how to tune in.

aggregation The first grouping of regional markets to enter into aggregation was in Southern New South Wales and Canberra – twenty years ago this month – where on 31 March 1989, Wollongong-based WIN expanded into Canberra.  While Canberra’s Capital Television reciprocated and expanded into Wollongong.  Prime Television, comprising of local channels in Orange, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, commenced transmission in both Wollongong and Canberra markets. 

The aggregation of the local markets was completed on 30 December 1989 when WIN and Capital expanded into the Orange, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga markets previously served only by Prime.

With this new competitive environment between WIN, Prime and Capital each of them were required to enter into an affiliate agreement with a metropolitan network for the supply of programs.  Prime had established ties with the Seven Network prior to aggregation, while WIN had aligned to the Nine Network.  Capital Television had a direct link to the Ten Network as it was owned by businessman Kerry Stokes who also owned NEW10 Perth and ADS10 Adelaide.

This new competitive situation also saw the regional stations expand their local news services.  Capital Television expanded its one-hour Canberra-based news service to include Wollongong, while WIN and Prime set up Canberra news services.  However the financial realities of these expansions eventually hit home and stations found themselves having to review or wind back some of their expansions. 

capital_wollongongThe implementation of aggregation saw viewers in these local areas maintain some loyalty to their former ‘solus’ broadcaster even though this was at odds with network ratings in the capital cities.  For instance, Capital Television maintained a strong ratings presence in Canberra in the period following aggregation even though its parent network, Ten, was rating a distant third in the metropolitan markets.  This loyalty was also due in part to the ‘solus’ broadcaster usually staying on the traditional VHF band while the new stations were utilising the newer UHF band which required some upgrading of television antennas and receivers.  Although in Wollongong there was an exception as the local incumbent, WIN, and national broadcaster ABC were forced to vacate their local broadcast frequencies of channels 4 and 5A respectively, and move to the UHF band.  This was due to the phasing out of television services from VHF Band II to make room for the growth of FM radio services which would use the same frequency range.

win_1989 But as time went on viewers’ habits gradually began to fall into line with general trends in the capital cities although when the first ratings survey of the Southern NSW/ACT aggregated market was released in early 1990, Prime was the leader followed by WIN and Capital.  This was in contrast to the metropolitan markets where Nine dominated ahead of Seven.

More on aggregation at TelevisionAU

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The wait is over tonight for ONE

onehd_howtowatch Network Ten’s new 24-hour all-sports digital channel OneHD launches tonight (Thursday 26 March) at 7.00pm in Melbourne and 7.30pm in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

After the Welcome To One special, the first event to be broadcast on OneHD in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth will be tonight’s opening round AFL clash between Richmond and Carlton from the MCG. The sell-out game has prompted Ten to re-schedule the Melbourne broadcast to commence live-to-air at 7.30pm instead of delayed at 8.00pm. The Swimming Australia SKINS event will be the first event aired on OneHD in Sydney and Brisbane from 8.00pm.

OneHD can be found on channel 1 on high-definition tuners in those cities. The channel is also simulcast in standard-definition on digital channel 12.

Viewers in regional areas and smaller capital cities Hobart, Darwin and Canberra will unfortunately have to wait for the channel to be made available through local affiliates such as Southern Cross Ten, Tasmanian Digital Television and Darwin Digital Television. Apparently negotiations are still in progress for these outlets to carry OneHD.

OneHD will also be available via Foxtel in both high-definition and standard-definition formats.
Picture: OneHD

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WIN’s ten years out west

winwa_launch It is now ten years since regional network WIN spread to Western Australia.  The station was originally due to launch on Friday 26 March 1999 but at the last minute decided to begin broadcasting a day earlier to broadcast news bulletins with particular attention to Cyclone Vance that had swept across the state just days before.

WIN paid around $36 million for the licence to operate a statewide television service in competition with long-time incumbent Golden West Network (GWN), followed by around $14 million in setup costs – compared to the $70 million that Prime Television paid to gain control of GWN from Kerry Stokes.

Despite some confusion over possible network affiliations in the early days of planning, WIN did launch with affiliation to both Nine and Ten networks.  So while WA viewers could see programs such as Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Friends, The Footy Show, Getaway, Water Rats, Sunday, A Current Affair, Today and 60 Minutes from the Nine Network on WIN, they could also see Neighbours and imported programs such as The X Files, Melrose Place, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Simpsons, NYPD Blue and The Nanny from Network Ten.

WIN’s West Australian Opening Night schedule: 26 March 1999:
(not taking into account the last minute change to broadcast some programming the previous day) 5.30pm Ten News, 6.30 A Current Affair, 7pm WIN Television Western Australia Official Launch, 7.30 Friends, 8pm The Nanny, 8.30 Movie: Casino, 11.40 Nightline, 12.10 Swimming: Australian Championship, 1.40am Rugby: Melbourne Storm vs Canterbury, 3.50 The Late Show, 4.50 Outer Bounds, 5am Wild West Cowboys Of Moo Mesa, 5.30 Zorro.
Source: The West Australian, 26 March 1999.

WIN launched in Western Australia with coverage of approximately 85 per cent of the state’s regional population through terrestrial transmitters, on both VHF and UHF, as well as satellite transmission via the Optus B3 satellite.

The dual affiliation status of WIN was not unique in Australia but it did lead to some bold moves both on and off screen.  First, WIN set up its WA headquarters at the studios of Perth’s NEW10 apparently as a snub towards the company’s traditional affiliate partner the Nine Network.  The move was rumoured to be in response to some hostilities between WIN owner Bruce Gordon and Sunraysia Television, owner of STW9 Perth. 

winwa_news At the time of its launch, WIN also elected to relay Perth’s Ten News across Western Australia as at the time it was Perth’s second-highest rating news service behind Seven Nightly News.  WIN also chose Ten News because it featured former GWN presenter Christine Morrissey (pictured, with Ten News colleague Greg Pearce), which WIN hoped would give it some advantage in the regional market.  WIN decided to screen Ten News on delay at 5.30pm, leading into A Current Affair from Nine at 6.30pm.  GWN, meanwhile, had cancelled its one-hour Bunbury-based news hour and replaced it with Golden West News at 5.30pm followed by a relay of Seven Nightly News and Today Tonight from Perth. 

In 2007, WIN Corporation finally gained control of STW9 Perth after a lengthy battle with Sunraysia.  Following the takeover, WIN then moved its regional WA operations from NEW10’s studios to STW9, and replaced the relay of Ten News with National Nine News from Perth.  WIN has also since launched a regional news service, with reporters based around the state, to compete with incumbent GWN News.

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Peter Wherrett

peterwherrett Former ABC television presenter Peter Wherrett (pictured) has died at the age of 72.

Born in 1936 and raised in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, Wherrett later revealed in the biography Desirelines, written with his brother Richard, that he had a troubled childhood with an alcoholic father.

A motoring enthusiast from a young age, Wherrett went on to run a successful driving school, compete in the famous Bathurst 1000 motor race, and branched into the media as a technical editor for Racing Car News as well as motoring journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald and reviewer for Wheels magazine.

In the early ‘70s Wherrett was the frontman for the popular ABC motoring series, Torque, that ran for eight years.  He then followed that up in 1978 with Marque, a top-selling book release and a ten-part series for ABC that extensively explored the history of the motor industry over the previous 100 years.

A later series, Balance Of Power produced in association with Andy Lloyd James in the 1980s, explored the future of the industry and possible alternative energy sources as the world was beginning to consider the effects of prolonged environmental damage.

Leaving ABC in the ‘80s, Wherrett’s life took a downturn after a drink driving offence led to losing his driving licence and later his job at the Nine Network and at radio 2GB.  A second offence led to him leaving Sydney, moving to North Queensland,  where he ended up producing television commercials.

After his third marriage ended in 2006, Wherrett moved to Lake Macquarie in New South Wales.

Peter Wherrett is survived by two children from his first marriage – son Stephen and daughter Jane – and six grandchildren.

Source: ABC, Wikipedia

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