This is a printer friendly page
Free for educational use
Video clip synopsis – The issues surrounding the establishment of Pay TV in Australia.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 22sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, media and society, media ownership, sport, television, television programs, see all tags


Launch of Pay TV

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 paytv_pr.mp4 (17.5MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 paytv_bb.mp4 (8.2MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

About the Video Clip


This interview with Liz Jacka was 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. You can view her 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


Area of study 3. Australian media organisations

This area of study focuses on an analysis of Australian media organisations and the social and industrial framework within which they operate.

Media products are produced within a cultural, aesthetic, legal, political, economic, institutional and historical framework. Their production, distribution and circulation is affected by law, self-regulatory codes of conduct, industry pressures and the practices of particular media organisations. Other factors (for example, sources of revenue, ratings, circulation, ownership and control) influence the nature and range of media texts produced by individual organisations. Consideration of the impact of these factors on media organisations and their products is important in developing an understanding of the production role of different Australian media organisations.

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

Background Information


In 1982 the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal recommended that pay TV be made available to Australian audiences. Pay TV was seen as a way to increase both the range of available television programs and the number of companies in the television broadcast industry. However, the concerns of the local production industry and public interest advocates that pay TV would swamp Australian television and destroy the local industry delayed the introduction of pay TV for almost 13 years.

The first pay TV operators in Australia were the cable service providers Australis, Foxtel and OptusVision, who entered the market in 1995. They were joined after several months by the satellite-based Austar, which focused on servicing regional Australia. Australis collapsed in 1998. In November 2002 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) agreed to a content-sharing arrangement between Foxtel and Optus, allowing the rival companies to show each other’s programs.

Pay TV has given Australian television audiences access to 'global’ programming such as CNN, MTV, ESPN, Discovery, the Disney Channel, National Geographic and Nickelodeon. Australian content requirements for free-to-air commercial broadcasters do not apply to pay TV.

Pay TV households tend to be middle to higher-income households with children. The biggest shift to pay TV programs has been among the 5-12, 13-17 and 18-24 years age groups. One in five Australian households subscribe to pay TV, and pay TV programs have captured almost a quarter of the viewing audience from free-to-air television.

Critics still argue that pay TV has bombarded Australian audiences with US-style programming. On the other hand, pay TV has clearly stimulated the local production industry in areas like news, sports and documentary.

Australian feature films like The Castle, Crackers, Oscar and Lucinda, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, The Wiggles, Innocence, Babe 2: Pig in the City, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Dish, The Man Who Sued God, and drama series such as Changi, Crash Palace, Head Start, McLeod’s Daughters, Secret Life of Us and Yakkity Yak were all produced with financial support from the pay TV sector.

According to the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association, Australian pay TV stations produce about 100 hours of new local children’s programming every week. High-rating Australian productions include Crashzone, Cybergirl and Short Cuts on the Disney Channel, Being Eve for Nickelodeon, and Mucha Lucha for the Cartoon Network.

Classroom Activities


Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and the video clip itself:

  1. Why do you think that the commercial television stations opposed the introduction of Pay TV? What other criticisms were there? Have they been well founded?
  2. What are the anti-siphoning laws? Do you think they are a good idea?
  3. Do you have Pay TV at home? What was the main reason for getting it? List five events, sports or similar that you would like to see protected from only being seen on Pay TV.

Further Resources


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