Television broadcasting in Australia began officially on 16 September 1956, with the opening of TCN-9, quickly followed by national and commercial stations in Sydney and Melbourne, all these being in 625-line black and white. The commencement date was designed so as to provide coverage of the Olympic Games in Melbourne. It has now grown to be a nationwide system that includes a broad range of public, commercial, community, subscription, narrowcast, and amateur stations.

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 Service TV

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
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 Australia Plus, 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.

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 (SBS)
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 on 1 June 2009.

National Indigenous Television
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 licence 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.

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

In order to allow for commercial licensing, the country was divided into a number of licence 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 licences were granted (the exception being Perth which did not receive its third commercial station until 1988[6]), while smaller cities or regions were granted a single licence.

The process of aggregation began in 1989. Regional markets were merged and (usually) three licences were granted in the new, aggregated, area, with the exception of Tasmania and Remote & Central Australia, which got two licences. 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 licences.

Some remained un-aggregated, and are today known as diary markets. These were granted a second licence, sometimes to the same company that owned the existing licence. Two-broadcaster areas were later granted a third licence, 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. Areas with one broadcaster were also granted a third licence to the same company that owned the other two licences.

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).

Seven Network
Headquarter (Administration): Pyrmont, Sydney
National play-out centre: Broadcast Centre Melbourne
Main Studio
Breakfast/ Morning Show/ News (National Bulletins): Martin Place Newscentre, Sydney
Others Production: Australian Technology Park, Sydney and Docklands Studios Melbourne
Nine Network

Headquarters: Willoughby, Sydney
National play-out centre: Frenchs Forest
Main Studio
Breakfast/ Morning Show/ News (National Bulletins): Willoughby, Sydney
Others Production: Docklands Studios Melbourne

Ten Network
Headquarters & National play-out centre: Pyrmont, Sydney
Although the names of the metropolitan stations remain the same across cities, their ownership varies.

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. 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.

Commercial stations in metropolitan markets (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth) are owned and operated by their respective network instead of an affiliate operator.
However, commercial stations in regional and remote areas are instead operated by affiliates broadcasters.


Digital Switchoff

In October 2008, the Digital Switchover Taskforce announced the timetable for analogue-switchoff, starting on 30 June 2010 in Mildura and concluding on 10 December 2013 in remote central and eastern Australia.


Freeview Australia

Freeview AustraliaFreeview is the brand given to the Digital terrestrial television platform in Australia. It is intended to bring all of the free-to-air (FTA) broadcasters on to a consistent marketing platform to compete against subscription television, in particular Foxtel, and coincides with the expansion to 3 digital channels for each FTA network. Important services from Freeview includes its free over-the-air channels with an enhanced EPG (Electronic program guide) across all channels. Freeview also certify televisions, set-top box and personal video recorders (PVR) which meet their requirements.

The Freeview brand was launched in November 2008 with teaser commercials promising 15 channels in 2009. The first new “Freeview” channel started on 26 March 2009 with Network Ten’s One sports channel. Further advertising began on 26 April 2009, with the first Freeview certified devices appearing in retailers from May 2009. In June 2010, the second phase of devices, marked as “Freeview EPG” devices, became available in retail stores, designed to work with the newly launched interactive EPG built on MHEG-5.
This Freeview EPG will cease operating on November 24, 2017, and Freeview is now focusing on its new Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV-based FreeviewPlus service which was launched in 2014 and incorporates an onscreen guide.

The non-profit Freeview organisation comprises the free-to-air licencees; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Special Broadcasting Service, Seven Network, Nine Network, Network Ten, Prime Media Group and Southern Cross Broadcasting.


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