|Launched||20 February 2006|
|Picture format||576i 16:9 Digital (PAL)|
|Slogan||A Different View|
|Broadcast area||Sydney, Southern Highlands, Blue Mountains, Central Coast|
|Freeview C31 (virtual)||44|
In 2003 the Australian Government called for tenders for what it called the "permanent" community TV licences. For many years community channels in the major capital cities had operated on narrowcast licences issued for limited 12 month periods. Everywhere but Sydney the incumbent channels secured the permanent licence. In Sydney a syndicate headed-up by the University of Western Sydney (UWS) was successful. TVS received its Iicence in early 2004.
Transmissions officially commenced on analogue UHF channel 31 in February 2006 after three months of technical trials. Unlike the earlier temporary community channel (known simply as Channel 31) TVS, with the financial support of UWS TVS was able to acquire a high powered transmitter that meant for the first time community TV could be seen right across Sydney.
In November 2009 the Government agreed to temporarily allocate TVS (and the other capital city Community Television channels) an additional (digital) channel so they could simulcast in the period up until the end of 2013 when analogue television will be turned off. TVS announced in December 2009 that it had appointed Broadcast Australia as its digital service provider and officially began simulcasting on Monday 1 March 2010 on LCN 44.
Since February 2009 TVS has simultaneously streamed its service via the internet. At the time Chief Executive, Laurie Patton, said the decision to transmit live via the web was part of the station’s long term strategy to be available across all distribution platforms.
In 2009 the Australian Communications and Media Authority approved the station's request for the renewal of its broadcasting licence for a five-year period ending 22 April 2014.
As of Thursday, 1 March 2012, TVS switched off its analogue signal. The station continues to broadcast on LCN 44, with viewers requiring a digital television, or a digital set top box to use with an analogue television.
TVS broadcasts twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Despite a very limited marketing budget the channel is progressively creating a loyal audience. TVS recorded continual increases in cumulative audience numbers during the first few years. However, as digital take-up in Sydney increased the channel reported a leveling off of audience growth during 2009. When it launched its digital service in early 2010 audience levels began to increase again with a 15 percent increase in the first month (source OzTAM).
TVS uses the same Broadcast Australia tower as the ABC and SBS located at Gore Hill. The channel provides coverage across most of Sydney, with reports of clear reception from locations as far south as Wollongong, in the lower Blue Mountains and on the Central Coast. Its Digital 44 service has coverage that is equivalent to SBS (and the other free-to-airs), except that TVS does not have a number of in-fill repeaters that boost signals in some "black spots".
TVS has a broadcast operations centre on the UWS Penrith campus. The station's digital automation system is based on the Playbox () software.
The focus is on Sydney-specific programming with some programs sourced from interstate community channels (eg. Vasili's Garden from Melbourne) and from professional program makers. As at February 2010 more than forty percent of the channel's programs were Sydney produced with a further thirty percent drawn from interstate community based producers.
The station screens feature films in the public domain on weekday mornings and in prime time on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. On Friday nights TVS screens horror and science fiction films on the Schlocky Horror Picture Show hosted by a skeleton named Nigel Honeybone.
Not-for-profit community based producers receive free program airtime. TVS has announced the creation of the Television Sydney Foundation whose aim is to secure philanthropic donations that will be used to support the development of local programming.
The TVS program schedule is based on a "modified wheel" concept where programs are run several times in the same week to allow audiences a choice of viewing times. The station's program line-up is published on its website, in most Australian electronic program guides (EPG's) and in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph newspapers.
TVS accepts sponsorship advertising, limited to seven minutes per hour. It also sells program airtime (a maximum of eight hours per day as permitted under its licence conditions).
Staffing and management
The channel has a small team of paid employees and volunteers (many of them media students) and was initially headed up by former Seven Network executive Laurie Patton as CEO, Henri de Gorter as Program Manager and Adrian Alback (later Ian Sneddon) as Operations Manager.
The original TVS Chairperson was UWS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janice Reid AM and later UWS Deputy Chancellor Geoffrey Roberson. In August 2010, TVS announced the appointment of a new chairperson Harold Mitchell and a new CEO Rachel Bentley, a UWS academic.
TVS was a founding member of the Australian Community Television Alliance (ACTA), the official sector representative. Then CEO Laurie Patton was the inaugural Secretary of ACTA and the sector's representative on the Government's Digital Switchover Taskforce Industry Advisory Group. TVS led the sector's campaign to secure digital spectrum and inclusion on the Freeview free-to-air platform.