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

Colour television went to a full-time basis on the 1st of 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

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

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

ABC Television is a division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporationmarker, established in 1956. ABC1 and ABC2 are available nationally, in addition to the Australia Network, focused at the Asia-Pacific region.

ABC1 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 TV 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.

Special Broadcasting Service

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 compliment the ABCmarker.

In recent years SBS TV has began 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, which is shown on all analogue and digital services, and SBS Two, launched in 1st of June 2009 and only available on digital television.

National Indigenous Television

National Indigenous Television, funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, is produced in Sydneymarker 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. 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.

Commercial television



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 Perthmarker which did not receive its third commercial station until 1988), while smaller cities or regions were granted a single license.

The process of aggregation began in 1989. Regional markets were merged and (usually) three licenses were granted in the new, aggregated, area. 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 Australiamarker, 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. Some of these were granted a second license, often to the same company that owned the existing license, while other existing two-license areas were also 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 and Mildura Digital Televisionmarker, as well as the upcoming Darwin Digital Televisionmarker service.

Metropolitan

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

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.

The majority of these stations are seen as clear extensions of the three metropolitan networks, typically made clear through their programming and identification. Stations in two channel markets generally look very much like one of the major commercial networks, with successful programs from a second network added in.

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

The ownership of television stations is divided primarily between a small group of business that includes PBL Media, the Seven Media Group, Ten Network Holdings Limited, the WIN Corporation, the Macquarie Media Group, Prime Television Limited, and Imparja Television Pty Ltd.

The relationships between stations and their ownership do not necessarily align:
Region
Sub-markets
Seven Nine Ten
Sydney
Metropolitan area (includes Central Coast and Katoomba)
Seven Network
Seven Media Group
Nine Network
PBL Media
Network Ten
Ten Holdings Limited
Northern NSW
Newcastle, Central Coast, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Tamworth, Gold Coast (QLD)
Prime Television
Prime Television Limited
NBN Television
PBL Media
Southern Cross Ten
Macquarie Media Group
Southern NSW
Wollongong, Canberra (ACT), Dubbo, Orange, Wagga Wagga


WIN Television
WIN Corporation


Griffith Prime Television
WIN Corporation


none
Melbourne
Metropolitan area (including Geelong)
Seven Network
Seven Media Group
Nine Network
PBL Media
Network Ten
Ten Holdings Limited
Regional VIC
Albury (NSW), Wodonga, Shepparton, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland
Prime Television
Prime Television Limited
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Southern Cross Ten
Macquarie Media Group
Mildura

Ten Milduramarker
Prime/WIN Corporation
Brisbane
Metropolitan area (includes Gold Coast and southern Sunshine Coast)
Seven Network
Seven Media Group
Nine Network
PBL Media
Network Ten
Ten Holdings Limited
Regional Queensland
Maroochydore, Toowoomba, Wide Bay, Rockhampton, Mackay, Cairns, Townsville


WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Southern Cross Ten
Macquarie Media Group
Adelaide
Metropolitan area (includes Murray Bridge)


Nine Adelaidemarker
WIN Corporation
Network Ten
Ten Holdings Limited
Western SA
Spencer Gulf, Broken Hill (NSW)
Southern Cross
Macquarie Media Group
Southern Cross Ten
Macquarie Media Group
Eastern SA
Mt Gambier, Riverland
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
WIN Nine
WIN Corporation
WIN Ten
WIN Corporation
Perth
Metropolitan area
Seven Network
Seven Media Group
Nine Perthmarker
WIN Corporation
Network Ten
Ten Holdings Limited
Regional WA
Bunbury, Albany, Esperance, Kalgoorie, Geraldton, remote areas
Golden West Network
Prime Television Limited
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Tasmania
Hobart, Launceston
Southern Cross
Macquarie Media Group
WIN Television
WIN Corporation
Ten Tasmania
MMG/WIN Corporation
Darwin
(includes Batchelor)


Nine Network
PBL Media
Ten Darwinmarker
MMG/PBL Media
Remote Central & Eastern Australia
(includes Alice Springs, Mount Isa, Katherine, and Norfolk Island)


Imparja Television
Imparja Television Pty Ltd
none

Notes

  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 it can support two commercial television stations.
  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 digital television saturation allows for significant advertising revenues via the platform.
  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. Only available on digital.
  7. Launched as a digital subchannel on the main Win frequency in October 2009.


Community broadcasting

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.

Prospective community television providers were invited to apply for transmitter licenses, which weregranted to groups in Sydneymarker, Melbournemarker, Brisbanemarker, Adelaidemarker and Lismoremarker. In February, 1995, the West Australian Community Broadcasting Association was appointed to manage access to the sixth channel in Perthmarker and Mandurahmarker on behalf of groups based in the two cities.

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

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 Sydneymarker, 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 Bushvision in Mount Gambiermarker [26680], Queanbeyan Canberra Television (QCTV) in Canberramarker, Hunter Community Television in Newcastlemarker [26681], Illawarra Community Television (ICTV) in Wollongongmarker [26682] and WARP Television in Bathurstmarker.

Groups in a number of areas including Bendigomarker, Ballaratmarker, Victor Harbourmarker and Hobartmarker 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.

Subscription television

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 Australiamarker), Tasmaniamarker and Darwinmarker. Foxtel broadcasts in all capital cities, the Gold Coast, the Central Coastmarker and all of Western Australiamarker. Optus Television operates only in the small parts of Sydneymarker, Melbournemarker, Brisbanemarker and Adelaidemarker where it has laid cable.

SelecTV is the fourth provider of subscription television, and is controlled by WIN Corporation. 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 a number of other services that target specific language speaking groups, and regions in Australia. There are two small region based subscription television providers; TransTV Digital which is available in Canberramarker; and Neighbourhood Cable which is available in Geelongmarker, Ballaratmarker & Milduramarker.

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 (France Télécom). 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

Datacasting in Australia began as a test transmission in Sydneymarker using one of the reserved digital spectrum positions. Australian broadcast infrastructure company Broadcast Australia are undertaking the three year trial using the DVB-T system. The trial consists of a number of services on one standard 7 MHz multiplex, collectively known as Digital Forty Four.

The services include; 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 Corporationmarker; a government and public information channel, known as Channel NSW, which includes real time traffic information and surf webcams; the Australian Christian Channel; the Expo Channel; and various federal parliamentary audio broadcasts.

Narrowcasting

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 Bunburymarker and Albanymarker. 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. During weekends and on Thursday nights Perth's Access 31 community channel is simulcast on Westlink.

Amateur broadcasting

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

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

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

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.

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

Victoria

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 Mt Dandenong.

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,VK3XKDand VK3XZA.

VK3RTV is now a 2 channel digital television facility on 446 MHZ. The new system features two standard definition digital channels. The upgrade to digital leaves community Channel 31 as the only television station in Melbourne without a digital transmission.

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

Queensland

A VK4RTV test panel was broadcast through UHF signals for a brief period in December 1999.

References



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