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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 - audiences, broadcasting, changing communities, communication, entertainment, media, national identity, popular culture, sport, telecommunications, television, television cameras, 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.

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


Making and Producing

  1. Live-to-air program
    Set up a multiple camera operation of an award or event and record and edit it much along the ways as television does. Think about your mixing of images and the use of sound. Attempt to encapsulate the events in a short amount of time. If you film a sports carnival or speech night, edit such events to their most significant points. The program is to run for no longer than 20 minutes. Analyse how television producers report events such as a sports match or an awards event, and note the use of multiple cameras and vision mixing, as this is live recording.

Critical and Historical study

  1. What was the first image to appear on Australian television, what were the first words spoken and who spoke them?
  2. The televised broadcast of the Melbourne Olympics revealed the power and immediacy of television to unite a nation. In groups, choose 10 of the most significant events that have been broadcast on television. Give reasons for your ‘Top 10’.
  3. What is the historical significance of the Logies and how are judgements about the winning programs made? What other awards exist for Australian films, radio and television productions?
  4. Set up your own class awards for the films produced in your class. Think about the criteria for judging these films. Write these criteria in point form and discuss them as a class to finalise the judging for the films. Did the best film win the award in your opinion?
  5. A verse from the song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised written by Gil Scott Heron, states “television, drug of the nation, breeding ignorance …”. Set up a debate on the topic that television has improved the quality of information broadcast to the public, not detracted from it.
  6. What is the difference between analogue and digital television?

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