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Video clip synopsis – Liz Jacka provides a brief history of the debate on how to establish television broadcasting in Australia. Tim Bowden recalls the enthusiasm with which Australians embraced television.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 4min 4sec
Tags - broadcasting, change and continuity, culture, family life, media and society, popular culture, script writing, television, television programs, see all tags


Launch of TV

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About the Video Clip


The interviews with Liz Jacka and Tim Bowden were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Liz Jacka is an Author and Professor in Communications Studies for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. Tim Bowden is a broadcaster, radio and delivision documentary maker, oral historian and author. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


In this English unit students will:

  • learn about and discuss the introduction of television in Australia, and to relate its development to their own lives
  • research and write an informative essay
  • draft and edit a play script
  • rehearse a play reading.

Reading Standard: students view, analyse, critique, reflect on and discuss contemporary, imaginative texts that explore personal, social, cultural and political issues of significance to their own lives. They also read, view, analyse and discuss a wide range of informative and persuasive texts. They explain how texts are shaped by the time, place and cultural setting in which they are created.

Writing Standard: students write sustained and cohesive narratives that experiment with different techniques and show attention to chronology, characterisation, consistent point of view and development of a resolution. They proofread and edit their own writing for accuracy, consistency and clarity.

Speaking and Listening Standard: students compare ideas, build on others’ ideas, provide and justify other points of view, and reach conclusions that take account of aspects of an issue. They draw on a range of strategies to listen to and present spoken texts, complex issues or information imaginatively to interest an audience.

The activities in this unit are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strands of Level 6 Communications (Listening, Viewing and Responding standard; Presenting standard), and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, Processing and Inquiry standard; Creativity standard).

The activities are also relevant to the Physical, Personal and Social Learning strand of Level 6 Interpersonal Development (Building Social Relationships standard; Working in Teams standard), and Personal Learning (The Individual Learner standard; Managing Personal Learning standard).

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


On 16 September 1956 the test pattern on Sydney’s TCN9 gave way to a grainy black-and-white image of presenter Bruce Gyngell speaking the first words uttered on Australian television: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to television”. (O’Regan)

The Broadcasting and Television Act (1953) stated that “licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of radio and television programs”. At first, television was broadcast for only 22 hours each week. Local content for television was mostly low-cost variety and quiz shows.

HSV7 Melbourne and ABC-TV went to air in time for the November 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Other stations followed over two years: in Brisbane (QTQ and BTQ), Adelaide (ADS and NWS), Perth (TVW) and Hobart (TVT).

The ABC’s television service in Sydney (ABN2) launched in 1956 with a news bulletin read by James Dibble. Dibble continued as the ABC’s newsreader until 1983.

Classroom Activities

  1. Getting started
    As a class view the video clips then discuss and write notes on the following:
    1. Describe the kind of television broadcasting favoured by newspaper proprietors in the 1940s and 1950s, and how it differed from what the Australian Labor Party preferred
    2. What is the impact on entire societies when television is introduced to them?
    3. Describe the positive and negative effects of television viewing both on yourself and others.
  2. Researching the effect of TV on radio
    Research then write an informative essay article of 400–500 words on how the introduction of television in Australia affected radio broadcasting. Add a reading and viewing list of all your sources of information.
  3. Drafting a play script
    In pairs draft and edit a play script for a 5–10 minute scene set in a family home a year or so after the introduction of television in 1956. The parents have bought a new black and white TV set, installed an aerial, and you are all about to watch TV in your home for the first time. What happens? Write the dialogue and the stage instructions. (You may wish to research the programs that were screened on Australian TV in the 1950s.)
  4. Rehearsing a script reading
    With the help of other students in your class, carry out a rehearsal script reading, during which there may be discussion by all the readers about ways to develop the scene in terms of dialogue, plot situation, and characters. By group consensus incorporate changes and additions to the script.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Go to The History of Australian Television

Go to Australian Heritage Council, Radio and Television, 1905–1970, Australia: our national stories, linking a nation, Chapter 9

Go to National Film and Sound Archive, Early Australian television learning activity