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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 - ABC, broadcasting, civics and citizenship, media, media and society, media industry, media influence, media ownership, national interest, popular culture, 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


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


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. Why do you think the Government needed to control broadcasting?
    2. What sort of concerns do you think the Government might have had?
    3. What sort of technical requirements did radio stations have to provide?
    1. What do you think the benefits of the Act might have been to a) individual listeners and b) Australian performers?
    2. Why do you think the ABC was not included in the regulations?

Further Resources


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