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Video clip synopsis – Stuart Cunningham explains how innovations in technology have transformed television content.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 1min 17sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, culture, identity, language, media and society, popular culture, technology and society, see all tags


Creating an Australian Image

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Stuart Cunningham was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Stuart Cunningham is Professor and Director of the Creative Industries Research & Applications Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. You can view his full biography 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


Students devlop skills to become involved in or influence representative groups in the school or community.

Students explore how media and information and communication technologies are used to present issues and influence opinion.

Students have the opportunity to analyse media portrayal of current issues to explore viewpoints, bias and stereotypes.

Students investiagte ways in which media and ICT are used to influence citizens’ views.

Background Information


The issue of content – of what gets broadcast – has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the history of broadcast media in Australia. From the early days of radio in the 1930s through to the 1950s and the advent of television and beyond, concerns have been raised about what people listen to on radio and watch on television. Central to this debate has been the matter of imported versus local content – programs purchased from overseas versus programs produced in Australia. The presence of Australian-made content is considered essential for a robust sense of Australian national identity.

Creating An Australian Image
In August 2004 Qantas launched a new version of their long-running cinema and television campaign to coincide with the opening of the Olympic Games in Athens. Scored to Peter Allen’s anthem I Still Call Australia Home, the commercial featured children from the National Boys’ Choir and the Australian Girls’ Choir singing at some of the most spectacular landmarks in the world – in New Zealand, Greece, Japan, the United States, France, England and Mexico, plus every Australian State – from Cradle Mountain in Tasmania to Jabiru in the Northern Territory, Burra and McLarenvale in South Australia, Wallace Hut in Victoria, the Pilbara in Western Australia, Sydney’s Opera House and the Bondi Icebergs swimming pool. The commercial’s closing shot at Whitehaven Beach in Queensland featured 500 children forming the shape of the Qantas kangaroo.

With Qantas reputedly spending more than $17 million on the campaign’s production, the 245 hours of raw footage for the commercials took five months to shoot and employed 656 production crew from nine countries. These figures far exceed a very generous production budget for a standard Australian feature film or drama series for television.

The campaign commercial is also a recent example of the great tradition of television advertising that reflects national myths and icons back to Australians, and to the rest of the world.

Classroom Activities


1. Over a period of one week, ask students to keep a diary record of their favourite/most watched television advertisements. If possible record the advertisements and/or ask students to list the features that, in their opinion, make the advertisement so ‘watchable’. What strategies does the maker appear to use to attract their attention? Indicate, with reasons, in which country you think the advertisements were made.

2. Using the video clip, what does Stuart Cunningham think of advertising on television? Do you agree? To what extent could it be argued that advertisers are trying to influence the views of the most vulnerable individuals and groups in our society? How might they do this? Does it matter?

3. In small groups, students share their favourite advertisements. Distinguish between an advertisemnet selling a product and those that are selling a message. Try to decide on just one favourite ad. There are an increasing number of ads from overseas being shown on Australian television. Discuss if this as a problem. Do you think they work as well as Australian ones?

4. In small groups share ideas about an issue in the school community. Develop an advertising action plan to influence supporters to the issue. Begin by creating posters for display around the school. With permission , use the school intranet to begin a school community discussion and to explore support for your views. In what ways in this active citizenship?

Further Resources


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