Television broadcasting in Australia

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Total employment (thousands of people) in Australian broadcasting (includes television and radio but not internet) since 1984

Television broadcasting in Australia began on 16 September 1956 in 625-line black and white at TCN-9 in Sydney, and has since expanded to include a broad range of public, commercial, community, subscription, narrowcast, and amateur stations across the country.

Colour television in the PAL 625-line format went to a full-time basis on 1 March 1975 while subscription television, on the Galaxy platform, began in January 1995. Digital terrestrial television was introduced on 1 January 2001 in Australia's five largest capital cities.

Public television[edit]

Australia has three national public broadcasters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Special Broadcasting Service, as well as more recently, National Indigenous Television..

Australian Broadcasting Corporation[edit]

ABC Television is a division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, established in 1956. ABC, ABC2, ABC3 and ABC News 24 are available nationally, in addition to the Australia Network, focused at the Asia-Pacific region.

ABC carries a variety of local and national news, current affairs, and sports coverage, as well as Australian arts and comedy programming. It is well known for broadcasting British programming, primarily from the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4.

ABC2, a second 'digital-only' channel began on 7 March 2005. Aimed at providing 'more choice, more often', the channel mainly provided repeats of popular ABC productions, such as Australian Story and Stateline, and was prohibited by law from carrying programmes from a number of genres, however, since the removal of these restrictions the channel's content has been broadened considerably.[1]

ABC3, a third 'digital-only' kids channel began on 4 December 2009.

ABC News 24, A digital news channel began on 22 July 2010.

ABC 4 Kids, A digital shared channel began on 2 May 2011.

Special Broadcasting Service[edit]

SBS Television is a division of the Special Broadcasting Service, founded to provide for the estimated 20% of Australians that speak a language other than English in the home, aiming to complement the ABC.

In recent years SBS TV has begun to target a broader cross-section of the Australian community, in part because of the emergence of specialty subscription television channels aimed at such minorities. In addition to its free-to-air channels, SBS also has an interest in the World Movies Channel.

SBS shows many non-English language films with English subtitles, and each morning shows news bulletins in foreign languages from around the world in its WorldWatch timeslot. In addition to this, a great deal of programming from the PBS, Arte, BBC and CBC, and even Comedy Central are shown.

Acquired entertainment programs include the US animated series South Park, Queer as Folk and Inspector Rex. In addition to news and current affairs programming such as SBS World News and Dateline, the network also commissions locally-produced documentaries, movies and comedy programs. Less-popular mainstream sports such as soccer, cycling and athletics are also shown.

SBS currently broadcasts two channels, SBS One and SBS Two, launched in 1 June 2009.

National Indigenous Television[edit]

National Indigenous Television, funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, is produced in Sydney and broadcast via Imparja Television's existing satellite capacity.

The idea for a national, indigenous television service was initially conceived by the National Indigenous Radio Service (the peak Indigenous radio group), which initially lobbied the government to start a new, nationwide indigenous television network. Although no major political party championed this cause, commercial broadcaster Imparja Television stated in 2004 that it would run such a network, at least within its own license area.[2] In 2005 the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts considered funding such a station, and conducted a review process.

On 13 July 2007 NITV launched, replacing Indigenous Community Television on the Optus Aurora remote satellite service.[3]

On 12 December 2012 NITV was launched on the free to air 4th digital channel of SBS, making this channel available to all Australians wherever SBS digital television is broadcast.

Commercial television[edit]

Australia television market regions.svg

In order to allow for commercial licensing, the country was divided into a number of license areas. When these were drawn up in the 1950s, each major city or regional area - about 50 in all - was considered its own market region. In each of the five major capitals, three commercial licenses were granted (the exception being Perth which did not receive its third commercial station until 1988[4]), while smaller cities or regions were granted a single license.

The process of aggregation began in 1989.[5] Regional markets were merged and (usually) three licenses were granted in the new, aggregated, area, with the exception of Tasmania and Remote & Central Australia, which got two licenses. As some markets were formed by the merger of up to six different individual markets, this meant that some stations had to merge or form partnerships in order to remain competitive. Around the same time, many remote market regions were replaced with two satellite market regions - one for regional Western Australia, and one for remote central and eastern Australia - although each of these regions was only granted two licenses.

Some remained un-aggregated, and are today known as diary markets.[6] These were granted a second license, sometimes to the same company that owned the existing license. Two-broadcaster areas were later granted a third license, to a joint venture company formed as a partnership of the two existing broadcasters. Examples of these include Tasmanian Digital Television, Mildura Digital Television and Darwin Digital Television service.[7] Areas with one broadcaster were also granted a third license to the same company that owned the other two licenses.

Metropolitan[edit]

There are three main metropolitan networks, the Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten. Although primarily targeted at metropolitan areas, these names are also used in some regional areas (others choose to run the same programming as these stations, but use independent names).

Although the names of the metropolitan stations remain the same across cities, their ownership varies (see below).

Regional and remote[edit]

There are a number of regional television networks, including WIN Television, Prime Television, the Golden West Network, NBN Television, Imparja Television, Southern Cross Television, Southern Cross Ten, as well as the Seven Network. These stations are seen as clear extensions of the three metropolitan networks, typically made clear through their programming and identification.

As with some of the major metropolitan stations, local content is often present only in the form of local news bulletin or locally-targeted advertising. The amount of local news provided varies from two-minute updates to full half-hour nightly news bulletins.

Ownership[edit]

The ownership of television stations is divided primarily between a small group of business that includes Nine Entertainment Co., the Seven West Media, Ten Network Holdings, the WIN Corporation, the Southern Cross Media Group, Prime Media Group, and Imparja Television Pty Ltd.

Digital only services which are joint ventures between two broadcasters are in cyan. Digital only services in monopoly areas are in yellow.[notes 1]

The relationships between stations and their ownership do not necessarily align:

Region
Sub-markets
Seven Nine Ten
Sydney
Metropolitan area (including Central Coast and Blue Mountains)
Seven Network
Seven West Media
Nine Network
Nine Entertainment Co.
Network Ten
Ten Network Holdings
Northern NSW5, 11
Newcastle, Central Coast, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Taree, Lismore, Gold Coast (QLD)
PRIME7
Prime Media Group
NBN Television
Nine Entertainment Co.
Southern Cross Ten
Southern Cross Media Group
Southern NSW
Wollongong, Canberra (ACT), Wagga Wagga, Orange, Dubbo
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Griffith1, 2 Seven Griffith
WIN Corporation
Ten Griffith
WIN Corporation
Melbourne
Metropolitan area (including Geelong)
Seven Network
Seven West Media
Nine Network
Nine Entertainment Co.
Network Ten
Ten Network Holdings
Regional Victoria
Ballarat, Bendigo, Albury (NSW), Shepparton, Traralgon
PRIME7
Prime Media Group
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Southern Cross Ten
Southern Cross Media Group
Mildura2 Ten Mildura
Prime Media Group/WIN Corporation
Brisbane5, 11
Metropolitan area (including Gold Coast and southern Sunshine Coast)
Seven Network
Seven West Media
Nine Network
Nine Entertainment Co.
Network Ten
Ten Network Holdings
Regional Queensland
Townsville, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Mackay, Maryborough
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Southern Cross Ten
Southern Cross Media Group
Adelaide
Metropolitan area (including Murray Bridge)
Nine Network
Nine Entertainment Co.
Network Ten
Ten Network Holdings
Mid-North and Western SA1, 2, 3
Spencer Gulf, Broken Hill (NSW)
Southern Cross Television
Southern Cross Media Group
Southern Cross Nine
Southern Cross Media Group
Southern Cross Ten
Southern Cross Media Group
Eastern SA1, 2, 10
Mount Gambier, Riverland
Seven SA
(WIN Seven)
WIN Corporation
WIN6
WIN Corporation
Ten SA
(WIN Ten)
WIN Corporation
Perth
Metropolitan area
Seven Network
Seven West Media
Nine Network
Nine Entertainment Co.
Network Ten
Ten Network Holdings
Regional WA2, 3
Bunbury, Albany, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, remote areas
GWN7
Prime Television Limited
WIN Television7
WIN Corporation
Ten West8
Prime Media Group/WIN Corporation
Tasmania4
Hobart, Launceston
Southern Cross Television
Southern Cross Media Group
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Ten Tasmania4
MMG/WIN Corporation
Darwin5
(includes Batchelor)
Nine Network
Nine Entertainment Co.
Ten Darwin
MMG/Nine Entertainment Co.
Remote Central & Eastern Australia3, 5
(includes Alice Springs, Mount Isa, Katherine and Tennant Creek; remote areas of Northern Territory, western New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland; alpine areas of Victoria and New South Wales; Norfolk Island)
Imparja Television
Imparja Television Pty Ltd
Ten Central9
MMG/Imparja Television Pty Ltd

Notes[edit]

  1. One company has a monopoly in this area, as the Australian Communications and Media Authority believes it cannot support more than one commercial television company, but can support multiple commercial television services.
  2. This rural area was not aggregated during the early nineties, unlike most rural areas. This status is now primarily of historic significance.
  3. Transmission is via satellite for remote areas, and via terrestrial broadcast for more developed areas.
  4. Tasmanian Digital Television (TDT), a digital only station, began broadcasting in December 2003. Southern Cross Television, as the former sole broadcaster of Seven and Ten network programming in the state, has retained significant Network Ten programming for the benefit of analogue only viewers. It is expected to align fully with the Seven Network once the digital changeover is complete.
  5. While there are several areas where viewers can receive programs from more than one licence area, the Gold Coast and Batchelor are special cases. Each has dedicated transmitters, on the same tower, for two different regions. Two sets of commercial stations produce dedicated feeds for the Gold Coast. Nine goes so far as to produce a special Gold Coast news service, available only in the area. Similarly, Foxtel and Austar compete on the Gold Coast, the only place in the country where this happens.
  6. Launched as a digital subchannel on the main WIN frequency in October 2009. Became the Nine affiliate in December 2010.
  7. WIN in Western Australia is still a Nine and Ten dual affiliate (mainly Channel 9 shows) while Ten West is being rolled out.
  8. Launched as a digital channel in certain areas on 10 June 2010. Will be rolled out to major regional centres by February 2011.
  9. Expected to launch mid-2011.
  10. Seven SA (WIN 7) and Ten SA (WIN Ten) are also broadcast to western Victoria (areas near the South Australian border) along with Prime7 Ballarat and Southern Cross Ten - Ballarat, respectively.
  11. Southern Cross Ten (from the Northern New South Wales transmission) is the main Network Ten affiliate for the Gold Coast. Network Ten (from the Brisbane transmission) is an 'alternative' Network Ten channel for the Gold Coast.

Community broadcasting[edit]

In 1993 the Australian Broadcasting Authority allocated licenses for a sixth television channel for non-profit community and educational use on a trial basis. The groundwork for community television was laid in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which defined a new service category, community television, for the first time.[8]

Prospective community television providers were invited to apply for transmitter licenses, which were granted to groups in Sydney,[9] Melbourne,[9] Brisbane,[10] Adelaide[11] and Lismore.[11] In February, 1995, the West Australian Community Broadcasting Association was appointed to manage access to the sixth channel in Perth and Mandurah on behalf of groups based in the two cities.[12]

Licenses were also granted in 1996 to Hobart Access Community Television Inc in Hobart and Bendigo Community Television Inc in Bendigo however these were not renewed. Similarly, a license for BushVision in Mount Gambier was granted in 2005, but it later lapsed.[13]

Permanent licenses for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth were allocated in 2004, while trial license remain in effect in Adelaide and Lismore.

The Australian Community Television Alliance, established in March 2008 is the national representative organisation for community television. The CEO of TVS Sydney, Laurie Patton, is the Secretary and represents ACTA on the Federal Government's Digital Switchover Taskforce Industry Advisory Group.

In addition to these, a number of community groups produce programming in regional areas, including Queanbeyan Canberra Television (QCTV) in Canberra, Hunter Community Television in Newcastle [2], Illawarra Community Television (ICTV) in Wollongong [14] and WARP Television in Bathurst.

Groups in a number of areas including Ballarat and Victor Harbour have unsuccessfully applied for licences. Aurora Community Television, Australian Multicultural Television, Ballarat Community Cable Television, Channel Vision (Canberra) and Satellite Community TV, although not licensed as community stations, provide similar services.

Community Television stations went digital in 2010.

Subscription television[edit]

Three of the four major providers of subscription television in Australia carry a common service; however they have a number of differences. Foxtel currently 'controls' the common service that Austar and Optus resell. This service is known as the Foxtel Platform.

Austar broadcasts into all of regional Australia (except Western Australia), Tasmania and Darwin while Foxtel broadcasts in all capital cities, the Gold Coast, the Central Coast and all of Western Australia until mid-2012 when Foxtel/Austar merge. Optus Television operates only in the small parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide where it has laid cable.

SelecTV is the fourth provider of subscription television, and is controlled by WIN Corporation.[15] SelecTV is available throughout Australia via satellite and focuses on providing content in comparatively low priced packages to a number of specialised market segments; including Spanish, Greek, and Italian.

There are two small region-based subscription television providers; TransTV Digital which is available in Canberra; and Neighbourhood Cable based in Ballarat, and also available in Geelong & Mildura.

There are also a number of satellite services that target specific language speaking groups, the largest being UBI World TV, a non-English language service. Globecast TV and Pan Global TV are non-English language, Christian and sport channel platforms that are controlled by Globecast. Various operators run their own subscription services on these platforms. In addition, there are other satellite subscription services available through other providers.

National IPTV operators include TPG IPTV.

Datacasting[edit]

Datacasting in Australia began as a test transmission in Sydney using one of the reserved digital spectrum positions. Australian broadcast infrastructure company Broadcast Australia undertook the three-year trial using the DVB-T system. The trial consisted of a number of services on one standard 7 MHz multiplex, collectively known as Digital Forty Four. The service was extended past the three year period, but ended in March 2010

The services included; a combined program guide for the free-to-air broadcasters, named Channel 4; a news, sport, and weather datacast channel provided by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; a government and public information channel, known as Channel NSW, which included real time traffic information and surf webcams; the Australian Christian Channel; the Expo Channel; and various federal parliamentary audio broadcasts.

Today, datacasting consists of information based channels that are broadcast as subchannels of the existing commercial broadcasters. As of mid 2013, these broadcast mainly informercials. Examples include TVSN and TV4ME.

Narrowcasting[edit]

There are currently five narrowcast services in Australia:

One of the five narrowcast services is Westlink, of which is available to satellite users throughout Australia, and is rebroadcast terrestrially in Bunbury and Albany. The service is funded by the Government of Western Australia and is primarily used for educational purposes but also for teleconferencing, training and corporate services.[16]

Amateur broadcasting[edit]

The Australian amateur radio bands include frequencies standard televisions can receive, which have led to amateur radio operators making use of this by broadcasting video.

The frequency overlap occurs roughly where television channel 16 lies. Typically, channel 16 is used for amateur television transmissions; however, other frequencies are sometimes utilized, especially those used by satellite television services. Most transmissions can be viewed and heard on an analogue television, but some transmissions require additional or other equipment.

New South Wales[edit]

Television Gladesville (VK2TVG) in Sydney conducts three test transmissions per week on Channel 16, including a three-hour live to air program on Wednesday nights.[17]

The Central Coast Amateur Radio Club also has an amateur television repeater (VK2RTG) on Channel 16.[18]

VK2RTS broadcasts from Lawson near Katoomba on Channel 16. Club activity is on Monday nights between 8pm and 10pm. A Voice liaison and control frequency of 147.325 MHz (+600 kHz duplex) is used.

VK2RFM broadcasts from Oakdale near Camden on 1250 MHz FM which can be viewed with an analog satellite receiver. Club activity is Tuesday nights between 8pm and 10pm. The liaison and control frequency is 147.400 MHz simplex.

Both repeaters cover the entire Sydney basin. They are operated by the Sydney Amateur Television Group and may be activated and used at any time from the control channels. [19]

UHF TV Channel 35 was used until July 2001 when the Australian Communications and Media Authority reassigned the channel for digital television.

Victoria (2 Digital ATV Channels)[edit]

VK3RTV is Melbourne's main amateur television station, and is available via Channel 16 at the lower end of the UHF TV Band (below channel 28). The amateur television repeater is located on Mount Dandenong.[20]

There are a small number of amateur television enthusiasts (amateur radio operators with Television transmitting equipment) who transmit to Melbourne and surrounds via VK3RTV.

These include VK3AAZ,VK3AOB,VK3AGJ,VK3BFG,VK3BCU,VK3CH,VK3FMD,VK3GMZ,VK3IV, VK3JDA,VK3JDG,VK3KBL,VK3KHB, VK3KOS,VK3LA,VK3MN,VK3PB,VK3TMS,VK3TVZ,VK3XOK,VK3XKD and VK3XZA.[21]

VK3RTV is now a 2 channel digital television facility on 446 MHz. The new system features two standard definition digital channels.

Bendigo in Central Victoria also has an Amateur Television Transmitter (VK3RBO) on the 13 cm band. This can be received using surplus microwave dishes and downconverters. The station is known to show episodes of the Amateur Television Program 'Amateurlogic'.[22]

Queensland[edit]

Amateur television in Queensland had its beginnings in the late 1970s, after a group of local Ham radio enthusiasts showed interests in setting up their own television repeater, although this would not occur until the 1980s. For several years, broadcasters had to rely on a low-powered repeater located in Brisbane's northern suburbs, but eventually permissions were granted to have a more advanced and more central repeater constructed within the inner-city suburb of Spring Hill.[23]

In 1990, Brisbane's Amateur Television club provided a two-way television system for Lamington National Park during the park's 75th anniversary celebrations. In October that year, amateur television history was made when broadcasters VK4BOB and VK4XRL transmitted video to Sydney's ATV clubs which was relayed by the AUSSAT satellite.[24]

Various transmitters continue to broadcast to this day. Some Queensland ATV transmitters are located in the outer-Brisbane suburbs of Ocean View and Wamuran. In November 2012, the Ocean View site will begin its first digital transmission test.[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Officially, so called "digital only" services are supplementary licenses given through Section 38B of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Even though Australia no longer has any analogue television signals, the term "digital only" is used here to prevent confusion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Day, Julia (18 October 2006). "Australia opens up media investment". MediaGuardian.co.uk (London: guardian.co.uk). Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  2. ^ "Services Provision Review". DCITA. July 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  3. ^ "New Indigenous TV station turns on". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  4. ^ "The History of Australian Television - The Eighties". television.au. 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  5. ^ "The History of Australian Television - The Nineties". television.au. 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  6. ^ "Regional Television Diary". Nielsen Media Research. 2007. Archived from the original on 14 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  7. ^ "New digital commercial television service for Darwin" (Press release). Australian Communications and Media Authority. 18 May 2007. 
  8. ^ "ABA releases spectrum for sixth channel". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 1993. Retrieved 2007-07-14. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b "ABA licences community TV in Sydney and Melbourne". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 1993. Retrieved 2007-07-14. [dead link]
  10. ^ "No Licence for Ipswich Community TV Group". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 1994. Retrieved 2007-07-14. [dead link]
  11. ^ a b "ABA licences community TV in Adelaide and Lismore". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 1993. Retrieved 2007-07-14. [dead link]
  12. ^ "ABA licenses community TV in Perth and Mandurah". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 1995. Retrieved 2007-07-14. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Community television trial in Mount Gambier, South Australia". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-15. [dead link]
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ Griffin, Peter (24 April 2006). "Satellite viewing options improve". New Zealand Herald Online. Retrieved 2006-04-28. 
  16. ^ "Westlink Regional Development". Westlink. Retrieved 2007-07-12. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Transmission Times in Sydney". Television Gladesville. 3 November 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  18. ^ "Central Coast Amateur Radio Club". CCARC. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  19. ^ "Sydney Amateur Television Group". SATVG. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  20. ^ "Melbourne Amateur TV Group". VK3RTV Online. Archived from the original on 29 July 2009. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  21. ^ "VK3KHB's TV Broadcasts". Amateur Radio & Television. Retrieved 2007-07-12. [dead link]
  22. ^ "What you need to receive VK3RBO ATV". Unknown. Retrieved 5 Jan 2009. 
  23. ^ "South East Queensland Amateur Television Group - History". [dead link]
  24. ^ "A Brief History of ATV in Brisbane". [dead link]
  25. ^ "South East Queensland ATV Group". [dead link]

External links[edit]