Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The ABC or Australian Broadcasting Corporation is the national, public broadcaster in Australia. It is government-funded and provides radio, television and online services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia and overseas via Radio Australia. There is also a chain of ABC Shops selling books and audio/video recordings related to ABC programming.
Governance and history
The ABC commenced operation in 1932 as a collection of 12 radio stations operating as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, similar to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of the United Kingdom. It changed its name to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983 with the passage of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 (ABC Act).
The ABC is run by a government-appointed board, but programming and editorial decisions are made at arm's length from the government of the day. The political bias of the ABC's news and current affairs coverage is endlessly debated. Conservatives claim that the ABC tends towards the political left wing, but the opposite view is seldom raised from those towards the left of the political spectrum.
Unlike the BBC in Britain, the ABC has been funded through a government grant-in-aid, since licence fees were abolished in 1974. In recent years there has been turmoil on the administrative front, with conflict between Boards of Directors and successive Federal governments, most recently the Howard Government. Despite government funding, the ABC is largely independent.
It has influenced many aspects of the national culture:
- The ABC is a legendary radio presenter of sport at all levels. Television was introduced to Australia in 1956, in time to cover the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. The ABC had exclusive Australian television and radio broadcasting rights to the Games. (A commercial TV station, TCN-9 Sydney, hosted the first Australian TV broadcast, on 16 September 1956, introduced by Bruce Gyngell.)
- The ABC has been a leader in presenting music in all its forms, studio-recorded and live: including classical, popular, jazz, world music, electronic, minimalist and folk through state symphony orchestras, live concerts, FM radio (ABC Classic FM, Triple J), AM (Radio National), in programs such as Countdown, Rage, JazzTrack, Lonely Planet, Singers of Renown; TV-FM simulcasts, and generally involvement and sponsorship of live instrumental and vocal music-making.
The ABC operates a single nationwide TV channel, ABC TV, often known as Channel 2 due to the analogue frequency on which it operates in the state capitals, and the names of the commercial networks in those cities.
Each state and territory has a slightly different version of ABC TV. The differences between these are small, consisting of a nightly news program, a weekly current affairs program, a weekly sports program during winter, state election specials and the very rare other program. These regional versions are listed below with the name of their main transmitter.
- ABC ACT - ABC-9 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
- ABC Northern - ABD-6 Darwin, Northern Territory
- ABC NSW - ABN-2 Sydney, New South Wales
- ABC Queensland - ABQ-2 Brisbane, Queensland
- ABC Southern - ABS-2 Adelaide, South Australia
- ABC Tasmania - ABT-2 Hobart, Tasmania
- ABC Victoria - ABV-2 Melbourne, Victoria
- ABC Western - ABW-2 Perth, Western Australia
ABC TV broadcasts a wide range of content, to match the broad social makeup of Australia. On ABC Television, this ranges from British comedies such as The League of Gentlemen and Absolutely Fabulous to children's programs such as Sesame Street and its own Play School. Bananas In Pyjamas is an ABC production, now seen and enjoyed by children worldwide dubbed into their own languages. It produces specialist programs for rural viewers (such as Landline), a large range of high quality current affairs programs (notably Lateline, Australian Story, The 7.30 Report and Four Corners), whose number of foreign reporters is unmatched by other Australian networks. It also produces Australian drama and comedy. Recent notables have included the ratings hit Kath and Kim and Grassroots, joining the crypt of Australian TV treasures: Frontline, The Micallef Program, The Games and Mother and Son. Finally, ABC TV is one of the few stations that will air quite controversial shows such as the comedy series CNNNN and the 1992 reality television series Sylvania Waters.
The ABC operated two half-day channels aimed at a younger audience from 2001 to June 2003, called ABC Kids and Fly TV. This service was available FTA on digital terrestrial and C-Band satellite, and via the Austar and Optus Television subscription TV platforms (but notably not on Foxtel or Aurora). The channels were never specifically funded by the federal government, despite many pleas from the ABC. They were axed when the ABC could no longer afford to sustain them from their general funding in 2003.
On March 7th, 2005, ABC2 was launched ABC News Article. It is largely a combination of the ABC Kids channel and a CBC Newsworld-like proposal called ABC Daily. It screens prodominantly repeated ABC news and current affairs programs, compilations of ABC news bulletin stories with some additional reporting, children's programming, music documentaries and state football.
Failed Arnridge plans
In the early 1990s the ABC was part of a consortium that owned the subscription TV rights to a lot of popular foreign programming, including that of Nickelodeon. It was also going to launch a commercial news channel in conjunction with Fairfax and a Canadian cable company. However, these plans all fell apart before anything substantial came of them. At least one interview filmed for the news channel was eventually aired on ABC TV.
The ABC started as a network of twelve radio stations, and now includes five national networks, over fifty local radio stations, and a foreign language shortwave radio service. The twelve original stations are:
Today, some of these are part of ABC Local Radio, a succession of stations broadcasting light entertainment, talkback, and some current affairs and most popular with older audiences. Most others have joined the national network Radio National.
The ABC's radio networks are:
- ABC Local Radio, a collection of stations that broadcast local information some of the time, state based information and sport more of the time, and national programming some of the time.
- Triple J, a national youth radio network, broadcasting new alternative music (largely from Australia) for those 15-25;
- ABC Radio National, a nationwide network devoted to intellectual discussion of politics, science, philosophy, the arts, literature, and the like;
- ABC Classic FM, a nationwide classical-music station; and
- ABC NewsRadio, previously called the Parliamentary and News Network (PNN), a station chartered to broadcast the proceedings of federal Parliament, and is a 24-hours per day news station when parliament is not in session;
- Radio Australia, a news and sport service directed at East Asian and Pacific Island that broadcasts in various languages;
- DiG, alternative music for the over 25's;
- DiG Jazz, jazz music;
- DiG Country, country music;
The first five networks are available in nearly every populated part of the country on AM and FM, as well as via a number of other means. Those areas that don't have them all are scheduled to receive them soon.
Radio Australia is primarily broadcast via short-wave radio and satellite. It is also available via the internet and on the FM band in some East Asian and Pacific Island cities. It is of little interest to domestic Australian audiences as most of its material has already been broadcast or is broadcast simultaneously on the easier to receive domestic ABC networks.
The DiG stations have no announcers and aren't available on AM or FM. They are "cable radio" stations broadcast over the internet, the digital terrestrial TV system, FTA satellite, pay TV networks and DAB in Sydney and Melbourne. Not all DiG stations are available via all these systems.
The ABC, through ABC Classic FM, a nationwide classical music network, has helped support the ABC owned state symphony orchestras, chamber music, instrumental recitals, opera, choral and solo singers. ABC Classic FM was the ABC's first FM service, as was originally known as "ABC FM". Its format borrowed heavily from community stations that eventually founded the Fine Music Network and also from BBC Radio 3.
The ABC also operates Radio Australia, an international shortwave service with transmissions aimed at East Asia and the Pacific Islands, although its signals are also audible in many other parts of the world. It features programs in various languages spoken in these regions, including Mandarin, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Tok Pisin.
Radio Australia concentrates on news and current affairs, but it also features historical documentaries, information about Australian lifestyle and culture, and light entertainment. Although it does produce some of its own programming, most of the shows transmitted over Radio Australia are relays of programmes produced by the domestic Radio National network.
ABC Asia Pacific
The ABC Asia Pacific TV service was launched in 2002. It is partly funded by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and partly by advertising. The channel is available free-to-air to East Asia and the Pacific Islands via satellite and local cable systems is also now available in South Asia and the Middle East. It is currently available in 8 million homes in more than 35 countries across the region and in more than 190,000 hotel rooms.
ABC Asia Pacific screens a variety of programs, from the ABC itself, including tailor-made news bulletins for the region, from the other Australian terrestrial TV networks, plus Sky News and independents. It also carries the soap opera Home and Away, Australian Rules and Rugby League matches, and British drama series.
Australia Television International
Previously in 1993, the ABC launched a service for the region called Australia Television International (known as AusTV or ATVI). However, it was not very popular, and AusTV was sold to the Seven Network in 1997 after DFAT removed its funding. The channel now drew largely from both the ABC's and Seven's stores of material. Initially, the ABC continued to produce news bulletins for the channel, but this arrangement ended in 1999. It still fared badly, and folded in 2001.
In Australia there are currently six State Symphony Orchestras. These Orchestras were originally formed by the ABC as Broadcast Orchestras. They have since evolved into platform orchestras and now play a vital role in the cultural life of the country. The Orchestras were corporatised in the 1990's but continue to be wholly owned by the ABC. The six orchestras are: The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Queensland Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
The ABC's postal address is "[PO] Box 9994 in your Capital city" followed by the postcode.
It is a persistent urban legend that '9994' is in memory of the life-time test cricket batting average cricket (99.94, being 6996 runs in 70 completed innings) of the Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman. Supposedly, one-time Chairman of the ABC, Sir Charles Moses, arranged for this number to be used, however this has been denied by the ABC.
- The Alan McGillivray Solution
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation's official website
- Radio Australia
- ABC Asia Pacific
- Idents.tv - Australian TV Idents (Including ABC)
- PETER CAVE
Australian television networks Australian radio networks
- Friends of the ABC
Australian Broadcasting Corporation