ABC Television

Last updated

ABC Television
TypePublic broadcaster
Broadcast areaAustralia and south-east Asia
StationsIn Australia:

In south-east Asia:

Slogan Yours
Headquarters Ultimo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Owner Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Launched1956;64 years ago (1956)
  • 2
  • 21
ABC Me 23
ABC News 24
Streaming media
ABC iView

ABC Television is the national television network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation launched in 1956. As a public broadcaster, the ABC provides four non-commercial channels within Australia, and ABC Australia, a advertiser-supported satellite channel partially funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. ABC is one of five main free-to-air networks in Australia.



The ABC's Sydney headquarters in Ultimo ABC Sydney.jpg
The ABC's Sydney headquarters in Ultimo
The first ever broadcast of ABC Television – presented by Michael Charlton, 5 November 1956.

The history of the ABC's television operations can be traced back to 1953, when the federal Television Act was passed, providing the initial regulatory framework for both the ABC and commercial television networks. [1] [2] Over the next three years, planning for the introduction of a national television service was put in place, land for studios and transmitters in Sydney and Melbourne was acquired, and overseas tutors were brought to Australia to assist with training. [1] [2]

Commercial station TCN-9 Sydney was the first to broadcast in Australia, soon followed by the ABC's own ABN-2 Sydney and later ABV-2 in Melbourne. [1] [2] Six stations, three in Melbourne and three in Sydney, were in operation in time to cover the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. [1] [2] The ABC's first television broadcast was inaugurated by Prime Minister Robert Menzies on 5 November, at the Gore Hill studios in Sydney, followed two weeks later by transmission in Melbourne. [1] [2] Outside broadcasting was also initiated on 5 November, from the ABC's first outside broadcast van. The van, now in the collection of the National Museum of Australia, was instrumental in the production of thousands of outside broadcasts. It was restored in time to be displayed at the Sydney Olympic Games and was used to film the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the site of the National Museum in 2000. [3]

Although radio programs could be broadcast nationally by landline, television relay facilities were not put in place until the early 1960s. [1] This meant that news bulletins had to be sent to each capital city by teleprinter, to be prepared and presented separately in each city, with filmed materials copied manually and sent to each state. [1] [2] A purpose-built television studio was built in Sydney, and opened on 29 January 1958, replacing temporary sound studios used since the ABC's television services launched in 1956. In the same year, technical equipment was also moved to permanent locations, while main transmitters were introduced to Melbourne and Sydney in 1957 and 1958, respectively. [4]

Direct relays between Sydney and Melbourne, as well as Canberra, were also established in 1961, replacing temporary microwave relays as a means of simultaneously airing programs across multiple stations. [2] [5] Videotape equipment, allowing the sharing of footage with much greater ease and speed, was installed in each state capital by 1962. [1]

ABQ-2 Brisbane was the third ABC TV station to launch; it was followed a year later by counterparts in Perth, Hobart, and Adelaide. ABC-3 Canberra opened a year later, with ABD-6 Darwin finally completing the ABC's coverage of every state in 1971.

Teletext services were introduced to ABC in 1983 to allow hearing-impaired viewers access to closed captions. [6] International television service Australia Television International was established in 1993. [6] [7] Australia Television was sold to the Seven Network in 1998; however, the service continued to show content from ABC News until its closure in 2001. [6]

The ABC's television operations joined its radio and online divisions at the Corporation's Ultimo headquarters in 2000. [8] In 2002, the ABC launched ABC Asia Pacific, the replacement for the defunct Australia Television channel operated previously by the Seven Network. [6] Much like its predecessor, and companion radio network Radio Australia, the service provided a mix of programming targeted at audiences throughout the Asia-Pacific region. [6] Funding cuts in 2003, meanwhile, led to the closure of Fly and the ABC Kid's Channel. [6]

ABC2, now ABC Comedy, a second attempt at a digital-only television channel, was launched on 7 March 2005, running on a budget of $3 million per year. [6] Minister for Communications Helen Coonan inaugurated the channel at Parliament House three days later. [9] Genre restrictions limiting the types of programming the channel could carry were lifted in October 2006; ABC2 was henceforth able to carry programming classified as comedy, drama, national news, sport and entertainment. [10]

In the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, the Australian Government endorsed a proposal submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority by the ABC to launch a second digital channel targeted at children. [11] The new channel, titled ABC3, was to aim to provide at least 50% Australian-made content. [12]

At midday on 8 February 2008, ABC Television was rebranded as ABC1, complementing the existing ABC2 digital-only channel launched on 7 March 2005. [13] [14]

ABC has four digital services. [15]

As of 2009, ABC announced an Australia-wide upgrade to its Digital service, and that it would provide a seven-day Electronic Program Guide and give new logical channel numbers for all of ABC's television services. The ABC logical channel numbers as of 2 September 2019 are below.

Channel Numbers and Names
02 and 21 ABC 720x576i
20 ABC HD 1280x1080i
22 ABC Kids
ABC Comedy
720x576iABC Kids is a preschool children's channel broadcast between 5 am and 7:30 pm.
ABC Comedy is an adult block broadcast between 7:30pm and 3am.
23 ABC Me 720x576i
24 ABC News 720x576i
25 ABC Local Radio N/AState Capital City Radio channel simulcast, e.g. Sydney Radio
26 RN N/ARadio channel simulcast
27 ABC Classic N/ARadio channel simulcast
28 Triple J N/ARadio channel simulcast
29 Triple J Unearthed N/ARadio channel simulcast
200 Double J N/ARadio channel simulcast
201 ABC Jazz N/ARadio channel simulcast
202 ABC Kids Listen N/ARadio channel simulcast
203 ABC Country N/ARadio channel simulcast
204 ABC NewsRadio N/ARadio channel simulcast


These services are available nationally through digital terrestrial television, and all the digital TV services are also available through the VAST free-to-air satellite service. Only the primary ABC channel is available on the Optus Aurora satellite platform.

In June 2010, playout was moved to a new facility shared with WIN Television at Ingleburn. [17]

On 6 December 2016, ABC upgraded its HD picture resolution from 720p to 1080i.

On 3 September 2019, several additional ABC Digital Radio channels were added to complement the ABC Jazz and Double J services being simulcast on digital TV.



ABW digital studios in East Perth opened in 2005 ABC Perth gnangarra.JPG
ABW digital studios in East Perth opened in 2005

Within Australia, the ABC currently operates four television channels, all of them non-commercial.

ABC, the Corporation's original television service, receives the bulk of funding for television and shows first-run comedy, drama, documentaries, and news and current affairs. In each state and territory a local news bulletin is shown at 7 pm nightly.

ABC Comedy (originally ABC2), launched in 2005, shows comedic content in addition to some repeats from ABC TV of which the amount has decreased gradually since ABC Comedy's inception. It is not a 24-hour channel, but is broadcast daily from 7.30 pm to around 2 or before 3 am the following morning. The channel shares airspace with the ABC Kids programming block from 5 am to 7.30 pm.

ABC Me (originally ABC3) became a fully fledged channel on 4 December 2009, but has been part of the electronic guide line-up since 2008, broadcasting an ABC1 simulcast until 4 December 2009, then an ABC Radio simulcast and teaser graphic until its official launch. It is broadcast from 5.30 am to 10 or before 11 pm daily, and consists of a broad range programmes aimed at a young audience aged 6–15, with a core demographic of 8–12.

ABC Kids (originally ABC For Kids on 2 and ABC 4 Kids) is a new preschool children's block featuring children's programming aimed at the 0 to 5 age groups. ABC Kids broadcasts during ABC2's downtime, from 5 am to 7.30 pm daily.

ABC News (originally ABC News 24), a 24-hour news channel, featuring the programming from ABC News and Current Affairs, selected programs from the BBC World News channel, coverage of the Federal Parliament's Question Time, documentaries and factual, arts programming and state or national election coverage.

Although the ABC's headquarters in Sydney serve as a base for program distribution nationally, ABC Television network is composed of eight state- and territory-based stations, each based in their respective state capital and augmented by repeaters:

The eight ABC stations carry opt outs for local programming. In addition to the nightly 7 pm news, the stations also broadcast weekly state editions of 7.30 on Friday evenings (until 5 December 2014), state election coverage and in most areas, live sport on Saturday and Sunday evenings.


ABC Australia is an international satellite television service operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, funded by advertising and grants from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Aimed at the Asia-Pacific region, the service broadcasts a mixture of English-language programming, including general entertainment, sport, and current affairs.


Between 2001 and 2003, the ABC operated two separate digital channels. The ABC Kids and Fly TV channels, opened soon after the launch of digital terrestrial television in Australia, showed programs focused mainly at children and teenagers. The two channels closed in 2003 when the ABC was unable to secure government funding.

The Australian government announced a proposal in September 2007 to launch a new digital-only children's channel, to be named ABC3. [11] The proposal indicated that the channel would be aimed at children below the age of 15 years, with 50% of its programming derived from Australian sources. Unlike its predecessor, the ABC Kids channel, ABC3 would run from 6 am to 9 pm each day, and feature drama, comedy, animation and music. [12] The proposal received support from the Liberal Party of Australia during its election campaign. On 22 April 2009, the current Labor government announced its commitment to the proposal as part of its response to the Australia 2020 Summit conducted in 2008 [18] and ABC3 was duly launched on 4 December. [19] On 21 January 2010, the ABC announced plans to launch a 24 Hour news channel before the end of the year. [20] The ABC plans, if the funding is received, to increase the number of TV stations to six; this would result in ABC GEM (general entertainment and classic movies, women's-oriented, pre-schoolers, ABC3 styled programming) being broadcast in addition to the other services. [21]

Related Research Articles

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is Australia's national broadcaster, founded in 1929. It is principally funded by the direct grants from the Australian government but is expressly independent of government and partisan politics. The ABC plays a leading role in journalistic independence and is fundamental in the history of broadcasting in Australia.

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is a hybrid-funded Australian public broadcasting radio, online and television network. About 80 per cent of funding for the SBS Corporation is derived from the Australian Government. SBS operates five TV channels and seven radio networks.

Television broadcasting in Australia

As early as 1929, two Melbourne commercial radio stations, 3UZ and 3DB were conducting experimental mechanical television broadcasts - these were conducted in the early hours of the morning, after the stations had officially closed down. In 1934 Dr Val McDowall at amateur station 4CM Brisbane conducted experiments in electronic television.

Seven Network Australian broadcast television network

The Seven Network is a major Australian commercial free-to-air television network. It is owned by Seven West Media Limited, and is one of five main free-to-air television networks in Australia. Channel Seven's head office is in Sydney.

Television in Australia Wikimedia list article

Television in Australia began experimentally as early as 1929 in Melbourne with radio stations 3DB and 3UZ, and 2UE in Sydney, using the Radiovision system by Gilbert Miles and Donald McDonald, and later from other locations, such as Brisbane in 1934.

ABC Comedy second Australian Broadcasting Corporation general television channel

ABC Comedy is an Australian free-to-air television channel that was launched on 7 March 2005 as ABC2; it is owned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The channel broadcasts a range of comedy supplemented with repeats of popular ABC TV programmes. Between the hours of 5am and 7.30pm daily the channel's bandwidth is used for the ABC Kids channel for young children.

ABC Australia (Southeast Asian TV channel) Asia-Pacific pay television channel

ABC Australia is an Asia-Pacific pay television channel, launched in 1993 and operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The channel broadcasts a mix of programming, including lifestyle, drama, sports, English-language learning programs, children's programming and news and current affairs to viewers across East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Digital terrestrial television in Australia commenced on 1 January 2001 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth using DVB-T standards. The phase out of analogue PAL transmissions began in 30 June 2010 and was completed by 10 December 2013.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has evolved from its origins as a licensing scheme administered by the Postmaster-General's Department into a content provider in radio, television and new media.

ABC (Australian TV network) Australian public television network

ABC, formerly known as The ABC National Television Service or ABC-TV from 1956 until 2008, and as ABC1 from 2008 until 2014, is a national public television network in Australia. Launched on 5 November 1956 it is the responsibility of the ABC's television division, and is available nationally. The ABC's headquarters is in Ultimo, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, New South Wales.

SBS (Australian TV channel) National public television network in Australia

SBS is a national public television network in Australia. Launched on 24 October 1980, it is the responsibility of SBS's television division, and is available nationally. In 2018, SBS had a 7.9% audience share.

10 HD Australian TV channel

10 HD is an Australian free-to-air television channel that was originally launched on 16 December 2007 on channel 1. The channel was available to high definition digital television viewers through Network 10 owned-and-operated stations. The multichannel broadcast live sport, entertainment, films, documentaries, science fiction and news. The channel ceased broadcasting on 25 March 2009, and the following day was replaced by One.

This timeline of Australian television lists important station launches, programs, major television events, and technological advancements that have significantly changed the forms of broadcasting available to viewers of television in Australia. The history of television in Australia can be traced back to an announcement from the Menzies' government concerning plans for television services in Sydney and Melbourne.

ABC Me Australian TV channel for 6- to 15-year-old children

ABC Me is an Australian children's free-to-air television channel owned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It was officially launched by then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 4 December 2009 as ABC3.

9HD is an Australian television channel owned by Nine Entertainment Co., originally launched on 17 March 2008 featuring unique "breakaway" programming until 2009 and a high-definition simulcast of the Nine Network from 2009-2010 and again since 26 November 2015. The channel is available on high definition digital television viewers in metropolitan and regional areas through a number of owned-and-operated and affiliate stations. Originally 9HD only simulcast blocks of programming from the Nine Network, and in 2008 it added time-shifted news, movies, drama and entertainment programs. Following the launch of 9Go! in August 2009, 9HD reverted to a HD simulcast of the Nine Network. The channel was replaced completely in 2010 and the space occupied by the newly launched multichannel 9Gem. Following the government's decision to remove the SD Primary Channel limitations, the channel returned as a HD simulcast on channel 90 on 26 November 2015.

ABC Radio and Regional Content is the division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation responsible for radio output and regional content.

DTD, also known as 10 Darwin, is a digital television station in Darwin, Northern Territory. It is jointly owned by Nine Entertainment and the Southern Cross Austereo and operates under the company name Darwin Digital Television.

ABC Kids (Australia) Australian TV channel for pre-school-age children

ABC Kids is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's part-time channel, broadcasting shows between the hours of 5 am and 7:30 pm in each local Australian channel. It is aimed for children 6 and under. ABC Kids shares the same bandwidth as ABC Comedy which broadcasts outside ABC Kids' scheduled hours and supplements the flagship ABC channel with extra adult-oriented programming.

High-definition television in Australia is available via cable, IPTV, satellite and terrestrial television. The first high-definition broadcasts began in 2001 and since then the number of channels available to view has grown to a maximum of 27 that can be viewed on pay-TV service, Foxtel.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "About the ABC – The 50s – The Postwar Years". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Brooklyn Ross-Hulands (4 October 2007). "AusTVHistory: Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1950s–1960s". AusTVHistory. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008.
  3. Morris Model FE Pye outside broadcast van used by ABC-TV Channel 2 ABN Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine , National Museum of Australia
  4. "Twenty-Sixth Annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission". 1958.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "About the ABC – The 60s and 70s". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Inglis, Kenneth Stanley (2006). Whose ABC? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1983–2006. Melbourne: Black Inc. ISBN   1-86395-189-X.
  7. "About the ABC – The 90s". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
  8. "About the ABC – 2000s – A New Century". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
  9. "ABC2 launched at Parliament House". ABC New Media & Digital Services. 11 March 2005. Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  10. Day, Julia (18 October 2006). "Australia opens up media investment". The Guardian . London: Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 30 August 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  11. 1 2 Koutsoukis, Jason (23 September 2007). "Free kids' TV channel is as easy as ABC3". The Age . Melbourne. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  12. 1 2 "Kids to get own channel". The Sydney Morning Herald . 23 September 2009. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  13. "ABC promises more content choice". The Australian . 6 February 2008. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  14. Welch, Dylan (30 January 2008). "ABC squiggle to stay". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 24 June 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  15. "ABC Digital TV". Archived from the original on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  16. "ABC HD is now live". Archived from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  17. Meade, Amanda (30 June 2010). "ABC's problem-hit tech centre opens to criticism". The Australian . p. 4. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  18. "New children's channel for ABC". ABC News (Australia). 22 April 2009. Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2009.
  19. "The state of Children's television". Radio National. 6 December 2007. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  20. "ABC News to go 24/7 in 2010". ABC News (Australia). 21 January 2010. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  21. "ABC and SBS: Towards a digital future, Discussion paper" (PDF). Australian Government, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. October 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2008.