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Video clip synopsis – Liz Jacka looks forward to the future of the ABC and broadcast media in Australia.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 1sec
Tags - digital technology, entertainment, online communities, software, technology, television, see all tags


Fat Cow Motel serial

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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.

Background Information


Australia kicked off the 'noughties’ – the decade of the 2000s – with the biggest nostalgia show of all time at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The opening ceremony gave Australians everything from Men from Snowy River, Victa lawnmowers and Hills Hoists, to a celebration of sand, surf and starry nights. At the same time, millions of ordinary people walked over bridges to meet the first Australians and say 'sorry’. All of them faced an uncertain future.

Fat Cow Motel
The sleepy town of Fat Cow is not as it seems. It’s not that the place is dark and seedy. On the contrary, Fat Cow is charming and its people – on the whole – present as warm, generous and welcoming. It’s just that strange things keep happening in Fat Cow. And from his first day at the Fat Cow Motel, city-boy Jack is sniffing around for answers …

Fat Cow Motel was much more than a story about a 'city boy – Jack – with no experience of the country, meeting a country girl – Cassie – with enough experience of the city to know she belongs in the country’. (_Fat Cow Motel_ website) When the first episode of Fat Cow Motel went to air on ABC Television on 10 July 2003, it shattered the 'traditional TV drama series’ mould by delivering the first multi-platform drama event to audiences in Australia. Multi-platforming meant that Fat Cow Motel reached its audience via conventional broadcast on free-to-air television, as well as interactive components such as the internet, email, voicemail and SMS.

Unlike a traditional TV drama series, each of the 13 episodes of Fat Cow Motel contained a mystery for the audience to solve, with the solution being revealed in the following episode. For the traditional television audience, there were enough clues in each episode to solve each week’s mystery. But people with access to multiple platforms could search for more clues and snippets of information via the interactive website, email, SMS and iTV.

The use of multiple platforms pushed Fat Cow Motel into the realm of gameplay, where audiences could check Cassie’s voicemail box, examine the online guestbook, monitor the weather forecast for Fat Cow, even browse the list of winners of the Fat Cow pageant back to 1948. Tens of thousands of people discussed the weekly Fat Cow mystery at online forums. And ultimately the audience decided how to end the story, by voting – via online or SMS – whether Cassie and Jack should get together or go their separate ways.

According to ABC Online, Fat Cow Motel's website became the most visited TV-related website in the seven-year history of ABC Online. It received more than 1.1 million accesses in the second week that the program went to air, and continued to receive more than half a million accesses each week during the series’ screening.

Classroom Activities


Making and Producing

  1. Using your knowledge of websites, design your own splash page for your favorite television program.

Critical and Historical study

  1. There are many TV-related websites that offer the user a deeper and more detailed account of the programs. Such sites present a dynamic and engaging mode of entertainment, which importantly deals with the human interface as the user navigates through the site. Search for one of the free-to-air television channel websites such as the ABC. Navigate to program-related area. Critically evaluate its effectiveness in terms of the following:
    1. Ease of navigation
    2. Effectiveness of graphics
    3. Information provided about the program
    4. Game play option and cookies option
  2. Historically outline the growth of the Internet since its inception to today in terms of usage and applications.
  3. Will the advent of video streaming be the death of television or will it assist it to evolve into a new form? Discuss.