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Broadcaster control

Video clip synopsis – Liz Jacka details the history of broadcaster control and the introduction of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 17sec
Tags - censorship, ethics, Law, media, media and society, media influence, media ownership, politics, rights and responsibilities, see all tags


Broadcaster control

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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


By viewing this Film Australia film-clip, students have the opportunity to investigate the ways:

  • government can regulate institutions such as the media and exert influence
  • government institutions such as the Australian Broadcasting Control Board try to balance the right to free speech with the responsibility for respecting minority interests.

For further information please consult Queensland Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Framework’s SOSE Essential Learnings and Standards

Background Information


At the start of World War II in 1939 Australians rushed to support Britain – the mother country – in her battle with Hitler’s Nazis. Then the Japanese bombed Darwin, killing hundreds, and the nation realised a greater enemy was battering at the door. Help came not from Britain but from a new friend, the United States. The 1940s shifted Australia’s sense of its place in the world.

Broadcaster Control
The Australian Broadcasting Act (1942) was proclaimed for the 'maintenance, development and regulation’ of the Australian broadcasting system. The Act set out regulations for the commercial (non-ABC) sectors of the industry, and provided a guarantee of the political independence of the ABC.

In particular, the Act set standards for presenting news and current affairs, principally that news should be accurate and presented in a way so as not to cause panic or distress to listeners. The Act described conditions for broadcasting advertising. For example, an advertisement should not be presented as news. And the Act looked at the matter of content, imposing an Australian music quota of two-and-a-half per cent on all broadcasting stations. The quota meant that at least two-and-a-half per cent of all music played by any radio station had to be Australian.

Amendments to the Act established the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) in 1948, to “co-ordinate national and commercial programmes, to monitor standards of equipment and programmes, and to allot frequencies to stations”. (Inglis 131-132) The ABCB operated until 1977.

Classroom Activities

  1. Investigate the history and role of Australian Broadcasting Control Board, referring to
    1. formation and purpose
    2. relationship to government
    3. the ‘regulation’ of the Australian broadcasting system
  2. Identify and discuss examples of rights and responsibilities in Australia, considering individual and societal perspectives, particularly with regards to free speech.
  3. What institutions make decisions on behalf of the community to protect our rights and responsibilities? Do you think the Australian Broadcasting Control Board aimed to protect rights and responsibilities?
  4. Undertake a web-search to identify institutions that regulate the Australian media. How do these institutions regulate and influence media activities? If you had a concern about how the media portrayed a particular issue, what could you do?
  5. Why was it important that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board be at arms length from the Minister? Why should the Board administer the Broadcasting Act in a fair and open way?

Further Resources


Student Investigation Democracy and the Media on the Civics and citizenship website , particularly Investigation 4 Issue 2: Can they say that?: The limits of free speech on the Civics and Citizenship Education Website.

Teaching and Learning activity Responsibilities and rights, Making civic decisions on the Civics and Citizenship Education Website.