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In this chapter:

  • The first television company in Australia was established in the 1920s
  • The first transmission of television images in Australia took place in Brisbane in 1933
  • Television transmission testing was banned in 1939 because of fears that the signals would attract enemy bombers
  • Both Labor and Liberal governments spent many years working on plans to introduce television
  • In 1951 the television systems in America, Canada, the UK and France were studied
  • In 1956 the first official television broadcasts in Australia began
  • The very first broadcast was on Sunday 16 September 1956, and was hosted by Bruce Gyngell
  • His first words were, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to television"


This chapter will look at the development of television in Australia. This will include a look at some of the important dates in Australian television history.

Australia in the world of television

Even though it took a long time for television to be launched officially in Australia, many Australians and Australian companies were involved in the development of television. In the 1920s, Australia's first television company was formed, and demonstrations of television were made privately and publicly in Melbourne.

By 1933 the first transmission of television images had taken place in Brisbane. These images were broadcast by the station VK4CM which continued to transmit tests and programs regularly. See image 1

In 1939 the government declared an end to television transmission testing as a result of World War II. Many governments banned television transmissions at this time because it was feared the signals might act as homing beacons for enemy bombers.

Establishing television

It might seem like it would be easy to establish television in a country, you should just be able to do whatever you want. There are, however, many things to consider. By 1950, both Labor and Liberal governments had outlined plans for the introduction of television in Australia. In 1951 the television systems in America, Canada, the UK and France were studied.

In 1953, just before the launch of television broadcasting in Australia, the government established a royal commission to consider things like how many television stations should there be? Who should own them? How should they be allowed to make money? What radio frequencies will they transmit on? Who will regulate television stations to make sure the content isn't offensive? What television system should be used?

In 1953 a royal commission was appointed to help the government decide on the best way to introduce national and commercial television in Australia. Finally in 1955, commercial television licences were allocated in Sydney and Melbourne, with others available in capital cities around the country. There were also plans for the ABC to begin television transmissions as a government-funded organisation.

First broadcasts

In 1956 the first official television broadcasts in Australia began. The very first took place in Sydney on Sunday 16 September. The name of the first show broadcast was This Is Television and was hosted by Bruce Gyngell. He began the broadcast with one of the most famous phrases in Australian history, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to television." See image 2

On Sunday 4 November the first Melbourne television station began broadcasting. It was in time for the Melbourne Olympic Games, which began on 22 November 1956. The ABC launched its television service on Monday 5 November. See image 3

Television in Australia had begun.

Chapters: The history of television Television in Australia

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1. When were commercial television licences allocated in Sydney and Melbourne?






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