Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ten HD becomes One HD

TEN_Logo For those of you who have enjoyed watching your favourite Network Ten programs in high-definition - shows like House, Thank God You're Here, Rove, Neighbours, Australian Idol and even Ten News, Neighbours and 9am - your days may soon be numbered because, while Ten are no doubt grateful for your support, from April next year it appears Ten will turn over its high-definition channel entirely over to sport.

In launching Australia's first 24/7 free-to-air sports channel, TenHD will become OneHD, so named because '1' is the digital channel number for the HD channel.  OneHD will also be simulcast on a separate standard-definition digital channel.

OneHDThe new channel is part of the relaxing of multi-channel restrictions currently placed on the commercial broadcasters.  Up until 2007, none of the commercial channels were allowed to provide multiple programming options via digital, and only from last year it was possible to have dedicated high-definition programming. 

From 1 January 2009, commercial networks will be permitted to offer multi-channel programming in both standard and high-definition formats.

OneHD will tackle pay television's grip on wall-to-wall sports coverage with its own 24-hour schedule of various local and international sports, including AFL, netball, cricket, Formula 1, NFL, NBA, Major League baseball, golf and tennis.  Ten has also scored a coup by securing exclusive rights to Swimming Australia events including Australian Swimming Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and FINA World Short Course events. 

As current legislation dictates, major events such as the AFL Grand Final and the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be shown on Ten's primary channel as well as in high-definition on OneHD.

OneHD also promises to expand its long-running Sports Tonight format with two daily editions of the program.  The channel also promises programming dedicated to AFL and other sports analysis.  Ten sports stalwart Stephen Quartermain and Fox Sports commentator Robert Walls are reported to be fronting a post-round AFL program being proposed for the new channel.

Ten_HD The move to OneHD is a bold move in that Ten's efforts in launching TenHD with some fanfare last year may now be redundant.  As well, networks (including Ten) are already losing favour with viewers over current trends towards sudden and numerous schedule changes, intrusive advertising and late-running programs, so for Ten to wipe out its high-definition mainstream programming, in favour of what is essentially niche market programming, is a risky move that could further alienate viewers, which will no doubt be something that its rivals Seven and Nine will endeavour to pounce on.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Tanya Halesworth

tanyahalesworth Tanya Halesworth, one of ABC's first female television presenters, died earlier this month at the age of 73.

Born in Brisbane in 1935, Halesworth moved with her family to Sydney and after finishing school became involved in small theatre companies and appeared in early TV commercials.

In 1958, the 23-year-old successfully beat 200 other applicants for an announcing and presenting role at ABC's Sydney station ABN2.  Later, in amongst studies and theatre performences, she also appeared as a presenter on Six O'Clock Rock.  In 1961, she won a TV Week Logie award for Most Popular Female Personality in NSW.

Halesworth moved to the Seven Network in 1962, and there met her future husband, announcer and interviewer John Bailey.  Although Halesworth had already been married, and divorced, and had declared that "entirely against man's instincts to be tied down to one woman", she later married Bailey after returning from working in the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s.  The pair worked at TEN10 Sydney before moving to GTV9 in Melbourne. 

In June 1973, Halesworth launched the Nine Network's daytime current affairs program No Man's Land, a ground-breaking effort given the program had an all-female line-up, including reporters Mickie de Stoop and Susan Peacock, and was determined to "liberate the women from the kitchen sinks and laundries for 30 minutes every day to keep up with the news."  The program won a TV Week Logie in 1975 for Outstanding Contribution to Daytime TV.

Halesworth then returned to ABC in the 1980s to host the arts program Sunday Spectrum, then moved to the Ten Network's Good Morning Australia, before leaving television.  She then went on to a career in public relations and later in psychology.

Halesworth returned to Queensland in the late 1990s following the death of Bailey, and continued working until she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. 

Tanya Halesworth is survived by her sons John, Michael and Keiran and their families, and six grandchildren. 

Source: SMH, Australian Television Information Archive

NITV goes to Sydney

nitv_logo Australia's national indigenous broadcaster, National Indigenous Television (NITV), is expanding its coverage by gaining access to Sydney's Digital 44 free-to-air service.

NITV commenced operation in July last year, initially broadcasting via the Optus Aurora satellite and re-transmitted through the facilities of Imparja Television in remote areas.  The channel is also available via Foxtel, Optus, Austar, Neighbourhood Cable and TransACT pay-TV platforms and even via the in-house television system at Parliament House in Canberra.  The expansion to Digital 44 marks the broadcaster's first free-to-air transmission in a capital city, adding to the 150 transmission sites already in operation in remote and regional communities.

nitvAs the name implies, NITV provides programming made by, and aimed at, Australia's indigenous communities, including children's programs, documentaries, drama, music, entertainment, news and current affairs.

Earlier this year NITV's sports program, Marngrook Footy Show, won Best Sports Program at the Antenna Awards in Melbourne, and NITV and SBS were broadcast partners for the Deadly Awards held at the Sydney Opera House earlier this month.  NITV was also a sponsor at this year's St Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne.

nitv_yamba NITV has also joined with international broadcasters including Maori Television New Zealand, S4C Wales, SABC South Africa, BBC Scotland, APTN Canada, Taiwan Indigenous Network, TG4 Ireland and Australia's SBS, to form the World Indigenous Broadcast Network, giving NITV programs the potential to be given a global audience.

Digital 44 is a datacasting service operating on an extended trial basis in Sydney.  The service is not allowed to provide mainstream television but carries a number of niche or narrowcast channels including Expo Channel, Australian Christian Channel, news and weather reports (ABC), parliamentary broadcasts and NSW government information.


Source: NITV

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Denton's had enough of Rope

andrewdenton After six seasons and almost 200 episodes, Andrew Denton (pictured) has decided it's time to move on from his weekly interview show Enough Rope With Andrew Denton.

Beginning on ABC in March 2003, Enough Rope With Andrew Denton marked a return to television after seven years for Denton.  His TV career began in 1988 as host of variety/comedy show Blah Blah Blah on ABC, followed by The Money Or The Gun and the Friday night sports show Live And Sweaty.  In the mid-1990s, Denton moved to the Seven Network with his own self-titled show that ran for two years, before moving into breakfast radio on Sydney's Triple M with Denton colleague Amanda Keller.

On the same night that Enough Rope With Andrew Denton premiered the Seven Network launched its own talk show, The Chat Room, featuring a number of radio personalities including Keller.  The Chat Room had a short life, having proved that breakfast radio presenters don't always translate to prime time television, but Enough Rope went on to become a consistent ratings performer for ABC with Denton's interviewing style becoming a hit with viewers.

Enough Rope has attracted acclaim for its high-profile guests from a range of fields including politics, business, entertainment, sports, the arts and medicine.  The program has also featured people behind major news stories, such as Joanne Lees, the partner of abducted English tourist Peter Falconio, and Major Michael Mori, the military lawyer for former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.

Some of the international guests to have appeared on Enough Rope:
Bill Clinton, Michael Parkinson, Jerry Seinfeld, Sir Bob Geldof, Billy Connolly, Al Gore, Sir Elton John, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Jamie Oliver, Bono, Helen Mirren, Rudy Giuliani, Crown Prince Frederick and Princess Mary of Denmark.

Local guests have included: Steve and Terri Irwin, Jane and Glenn McGrath, Pauline Hanson, Maggie Tabberer, Michael Leunig, John Laws, Jimmy Barnes, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Mike Willesee, Raelene Boyle, Judith Lucy.

And part of the charm of Enough Rope was not just its high-profile guest list, but also in featuring 'ordinary' Australians, from less-glamorous fields, such as nurses, cab drivers, priests, driving instructors and butchers, all of whose stories could be as equally enthralling as those of the big-ticket names.

The program also staged a ten-year reunion of cancer sufferers featured in an earlier Denton documentary, The Topic Of Cancer, and has taken the show out to regional Australia, to towns such as Rainbow and Mt Isa, to give a unique insight into rural Australia. 

This year, Enough Rope also featured a special series of episodes, Elders, featuring interviews with some of our most prominent older citizens.  And Denton was nominated earlier this year for a TV Week Gold Logie award as Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.

In moving away from Enough Rope, Denton is keen to pursue other projects behind the cameras with his company Zapruder's Other Films.  The company has already turned The Chaser into a household name with CNNNN and The Election Chaser, and also had success this year with The Gruen Transfer, going behind-the-scenes in the advertising industry.

The final episode of Enough Rope With Andrew Denton appears on Monday 8 December on ABC1.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

1978: October 28-November 3

tvtimes_281078 Sammys Golden Night
It was a Who's Who of Australian Showbusiness when 800 stars, producers and writers gathered at Sydney's Seymour Centre on 11 October for the third annual Sammy Awards.  The awards, held in partnership between TV Times, the Variety Club of Australia charity and the Seven Network, honour the Australian film and television industries.  The event is also a major fund-raising effort for Variety which has collected over $30,000 over the last three years.

1978 Sammy Awards TV category winners:
Gold (male): Mike Walsh
Gold (female): June Salter
Chips Rafferty Memorial Award: Ken G Hall
Best Actor in a Single TV Performance: Tony Bonner (End Of Summer)
Best Actress in a Single TV Performance: Davina Whitehouse (The Night Nurse)
Best Actor in a TV Series: George Mallaby (Cop Shop)
Best Actress in a TV Series: Lorraine Bayly (The Sullivans)
Best Variety Performer: Julie Anthony
Best Variety Program: Julie Anthony's First Special
Best Comedy Program: The Norman Gunston Show
Best Drama Series: The Sullivans
Best TV Play: End Of Summer
Best News Coverage: Brisbane shoot-out (QTQ9)
Best Documentary: A Big Country
Best Current Affairs Program: Four Corners 'Utah' report
Best Children's Series: Wombat (BTQ7)
Best Sports Coverage: Australian Open Golf 1977
Best Light Entertainment Program: The Mike Walsh Show
Best Writer TV Series: Tony Morphett (The Sullivans)
Best Writer TV Play: Cliff Green (End Of Summer)

News team under fire in Vietnam
An ABC news team came under fire on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, during a four-week news-gathering visit to Vietnam.  ABC's Singapore correspondent Tony Joyce, sound recordist Steven de Vroom and cameraman David Westray, were filming material for a documentary, Vietnam Today, to screen nationally on ABC later in the year.  "There was quite a bit of sniper fire and shelling so we were creeping and crawling, close to the ground.  We were warned if the Cambodians saw us they would assume we were Russian military advisors.  Then they would really let loose.  Luckily they didn't," Joyce told TV Times.  The Vietnam visit is only the second by Australian newsmen since the war ended in 1975.  A team from the 0-10 Network had been there earlier this year.

kerrymcguire Polly put the kettle on for Kerry
Before Against The Wind and the role of convict woman Polly came along, actress Kerry McGuire (pictured) had almost despaired that her big acting break would ever happen.  The 32-year-old actress, who had studied at NIDA and scored some roles in TV series such as ABC's Dynasty and the Seven Network's Catwalk and stage productions including Hedda Gabler and Antony And Cleopatra, was still waiting for a big break but feels now with Against The Wind she is able to move into the next stage of her acting career: "I think I'm just beginning to break into my age group.  I've been a mature style of actress competing with some very good older women.  Now I'm growing into the era that should be mine..."

Marcia Hines is to present another series of six shows for ABC in the new year, but still has commitments in Europe to fulfil before she can start work on the series.

Former Homicide cop Don Barker is back in Melbourne for a guest role in the new 0-10 Network series Prisoner, now in production.

Former Australian Test skipper Bobby Simpson is to be chief commentator for the Gillette Cup series of cricket matches to be telecast on the 0-10 Network over the next three months. 

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"Why, oh why has TEN10 decided to put The Steve Raymond Show on at 1.30 of all times?  Don't they realise that a very popular show is on the other channel at the same time.  Steve Raymond will put on a fantastic show, but after watching Days Of Our Lives for the past twelve years, I think TEN10 could have found any other time to put the show on." E. Fuller, NSW.

againstthewind "Although I am enjoying Against The Wind (pictured), I find it difficult to believe that after a hard life for 10 years that people would not age at all.  It is a pity that the continuity was not up to the excellent standard of the rest of the series so far." J. Higson, NSW.

"I really enjoyed the article in TV Times about viewers who ring in to TV stations.  However, I hope they got a better reception than I did on the two occasions I phoned TV stations here in Sydney.  When I called ATN7 to congratulate them on their camera-work in the 1977 Hardie-Ferodo at Bathurst, the switchboard operator was amazed that a woman would even watch motor racing, let alone comment on the camera-work.  Then I called ABC to say how much I was enjoying Sailor, but the girl on the switchboard  didn't go a bundle on my taste in TV programs either.  I'll never ring in again, that's for sure." M. Bennett, NSW.

What's On (October 28-November 3):
On Saturday, ATV0 presents the Gillette Cup cricket, live from the Gabba in Brisbane, for the match between Queensland and South Australia.  On Sunday, the Gillette Cup moves to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the match between New South Wales and Victoria.

denisedrysdale Denise Drysdale (pictured) is Ernie Sigley's special guest on HSV7's Penthouse '78.

On Monday night's A Big Country on ABC, reporter Kenyon Castle follows jazz musicians Don Burrows and George Golla on their tour through the mining areas of the north west.  The program features aboriginal performers David Gulpilil and David Blanasi.

Vince Lovegrove presents a two-hour special on HSV7, Australian Music To The World, paying tribute to the Australian artists who have achieved international acclaim.  Lovegrove and his film crew travelled the world to catch up with Australians including the Bee Gees, the Little River Band, Olivia Newton-John, Peter Allen and Sherbet.

The Naked Vicar Show and The Best Of Norman Gunston appear on HSV7 on Wednesday night, while on GTV9 there's a one-hour special An Evening With Les Girls, recorded at the Carousel Room of the Chevron Hotel, Surfers Paradise.

On Friday night, ATV0 presents the final episode of The Daryl And Ossie Show, after forty episodes, and The Peter Couchman Show presents a special Melbourne Cup preview on Friday night.

jeannelittle Jeanne Little (pictured) and John Ewart are guest panelists on ABC's Micro Macro on Friday night, joining host Noel Ferrier and regulars Carol Raye and Stuart Wagstaff.

Sunday night movies are The Shootist (HSV7), A Touch Of Class (GTV9) and The Drowning Pool (ATV0), while ABC's Sunday night opera is L'Heure Espagnole (The Spanish Hour) produced at ABC's Sydney studios and featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 28 October 1978.  ABC/ACP

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Melbourne's Guide turns 18

theguide_18th The Herald Sun Guide has been a weekly supplement in Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper since October 1990. Though it could be said that the Guide actually had its origins as Melbourne's Listener In which began as a radio listing back in 1925 and continued publication until 1987, ending its days as TV Scene. The Sun newspaper at that time had only recently launched a seven-day TV guide in its Thursday edition, which later moved to Wednesdays after the demise of TV Scene, which also used to come out on a Wednesday. Another common link between TV Scene and the Guide was that of Robert Fidgeon who wrote for TV Scene and later wrote for and edited the Guide until his passing last year.

This week's edition of the Guide, to celebrate its 18th birthday, featured network personalities Rove McManus, Rebecca Gibney and Bert Newton (pictured, above), thus representing each of the three networks, each recalling various highlights of their careers over the past eighteen years.

Robert_Fidgeon Back in 1990, 16-year-old Rove McManus was in Perth performing in a high school musical production of Oklahoma ("thankfully for everybody I didn't move into musical theatre") before eventually coming to Melbourne to host a variety show on Channel 31 called The Loft, attracting high praise from the Guide's Robert Fidgeon (pictured). In September 1999, McManus began hosting his own late-night show on the Nine Network and when the network decided not to renew after ten weeks he wound up at Network Ten where his company Roving Enterprises now heads a number of prime-time shows for the network, and has led to McManus winning three TV Week Gold Logies awards.

New Zealand-born Rebecca Gibney has been a regular fixture on Australian TV for much of the last eighteen years, with roles in popular productions The Flying Doctors, All Together Now and the Halifax f.p. and Small Claims telemovies, plus mini-series Day Of The Roses, Kangaroo Palace and Come In Spinner. A break from regular series television saw Gibney move to Tasmania, but still appearing in programs such as Sensing Murder and Venus And Mars. The TV Week Logie award-winning actress has returned to television drama this year in the popular Seven Network series Packed To The Rafters.

bertnewton Bert Newton recalls that at the age of 18, he was starting in television as a host of HSV7's The Late Show. By the time the Guide began publication in October 1990, Newton had been in television for over thirty years but his TV career was looking a bit uncertain following the demise of The Bert Newton Show which had struggled to make a dent against Midday With Ray Martin the previous year. Things turned around in 1992 when Newton made a surprise signing with the Ten Network to host its new Morning Show, later changing to Good Morning Australia, and redefining mid-morning television. Newton eventually left Ten when Good Morning Australia wrapped up three years ago, and returned to the Nine Network to host Bert's Family Feud, and later 20 To 1 and What A Year.

To commemorate the 18th birthday of the Herald Sun Guide, Darren Devlyn proposed his list of the top 18 TV stars who've made the biggest impact on TV over the last eighteen years:

1. Rob Sitch and Working Dog Productions, with hit shows The Late Show, Frontline, The Panel, Thank God You're Here and The Hollowmen under their belt.

2. Daryl Somers, for his broad appeal in popular shows Hey Hey It's Saturday and Dancing With The Stars.donburke

3. Don Burke (pictured), for bringing gardening to prime-time commercial television and hence spawning a whole string of similar lifestyle programs

4. Ray Martin
5. Eddie McGuire
6. Bert Newton
7. Brian Naylor
8. Jana Wendt (pictured) janawendt
9. Gina Riley and Jane Turner (Kath & Kim)
10. Rove McManus
11. Bruce McAvaney
12. Lisa McCune
13. Aaron Pedersen
14. Rebecca Gibney
15. Andrew Denton (pictured)
16. Georgie Parker
17. Claudia Karvan
18. Gary Sweetandrewdenton

Source: Herald Sun, 22 October 2008

TV Guide goes for a dollar

TVGuide_logo TV Guide is an icon of the American magazine publishing industry.  Since it was first published in 1953, TV Guide has followed the progress of television, its programs and celebrities on a weekly basis.  The stars that have featured on TV Guide front covers over the last fifty-five years are a Who's Who of popular culture.

And while - like other printed TV listings - TV Guide has recorded a declining circulation in recent times, it still claims a weekly readership of over 20 million Americans.

tvguide_cover But this week TV Guide made news itself when its owner, Macrovision, sold the title to private equity firm OpenGate Capital for one dollar - not for one issue, but the whole publication.  (TV Guide's online presence is not included in the sale)  As well as that, Macrovision also offered OpenGate a low-interest loan to help cover the magazine's losses.  This is all quite a markdown considering that a previous owner, Rupert Murdoch, made corporate history when he bought the magazine for $US3 billion in 1988, at the time making it the largest deal in American publishing history.  Murdoch later admitted that he had paid too much for the title and in 1998 sold it off for $US2 billion.

The recent bargain-priced sale of TV Guide highlights the challenges facing the printed media market, such as TV listings, with intense competition from other media such as the internet and electronic TV listings through services such as TiVo or electronic program guide channels often found on pay TV and digital TV, which can all be updated at the press of a button, an obvious benefit given networks' tendency for rapid schedule changes at a moment's notice. 

Since the historic Murdoch deal, TV Guide has been reworked numerous times including dumping its digest-size format to the larger-page format in 2005, a move which coincided with the controversial scrapping of all localised TV program listings and replacing with a single national 'grid' format covering the major networks only, and editorial featuring an increased emphasis on celebrity stories rather than breaking news.   The title recorded a $US20 million loss in 2007, but OpenGate is hopeful to turn the magazine around and have it making a profit again as soon as 2009.

The evolution of the TV listing market has also seen Canada's TV Guide (not related to the US title) abandon print publication altogether in 2006, instead choosing only to maintain itself as an online presence.

Source: AdAge, Folio

Monday, 20 October 2008

Digital deadlines mapped out

Following news that Mildura has been selected as the pilot market for phasing out analogue television transmission, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has mapped out the timetable for conversion from analogue for the rest of the country:

tv_antenna 2010:
January-June: Mildura VIC*
July-December: Regional SA, Broken Hill NSW

January-June: Regional VIC
July-December: Regional QLD

January-June: Southern NSW, Canberra ACT, Griffith NSW
July-December: Northern NSW

January-June: Tasmania*, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast QLD
July-December: Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Darwin*, Regional WA, Remote Central and Eastern, Central Coast NSW

* Markets that already have one commercial service exclusively broadcast on digital.


Sunday, 19 October 2008

Mildura to lead digital switch

mildura The north-west Victorian city of Mildura is set to lead the state into the world of digital-only television.

The Age reports today that Mildura is to be earmarked as the first region to have analogue signals switched off in early-2010, with the rest of the state to follow a year later.

ten_2008 Mildura has been selected as the pilot market for the transition as it currently has a high market penetration of digital tuners, estimated to be around 70 per cent, largely due to the region's third commercial TV station, a relay of Network Ten, being broadcast locally only on digital. Mildura is one of only three markets in Australia to have a digital-only commercial TV signal, the others being Darwin and Tasmania which both also have Network Ten outlets broadcasting exclusively in digital.

The switching off of analogue television in a smaller-sized market like Mildura will also highlight any issues that may need to be addressed by the time capital city and other regional sites are affected.

The Government has set a deadline of 31 December 2013 for all analogue services to be shut off nationwide. The full timetable for shutting down analogue services is expected to be announced by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy this week.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

1978: October 21-27

tvtimes_211078 Jimmy's still playing the game
In 22 years of TV, Jimmy Hannan has hosted more than twenty shows - including Celebrity Squares, Spending Spree, Split Second, Say When, Generation Gap, The Jimmy Hannan Show, Saturday Date and Let's Make A Deal - but since Nine axed Let's Make A Deal a year ago, the "eyes and teeth" of Australian TV has rarely been seen on screen. But Hannan is not lying low, instead he is spending his mornings hosting a radio show on 2GB Sydney and has just started as a panelist on the new ABC game show Micro Macro. And the father of four who rose to fame as a champion contestant on Australia's first TV game show, Name That Tune in 1956, has an untold ambition to be an actor. "I'm starting acting lessons next year," he told TV Times. (Pictured: Micro Macro's Carol Raye, Noel Ferrier and Jimmy Hannan)

Nurse Lynda cops out
Actress Lynda Stoner will be leaving The Young Doctors when her contract with the Nine Network soap expires early next year. The former Miss TV Times is due to start work on the Seven Network series Cop Shop as policewoman Amanda King. But when asked about her leaving The Young Doctors, John Fowler of the Reg Grundy Organisation, which produces The Young Doctors, knew nothing of Stoner's plans: "As far as we are concerned she is under contract with us."

trishanoble Trisha's nobody's Patsy
Former Bandstand favourite Trisha Noble (pictured), now based in the US but currently visiting Australia, finds herself living a double life. Although she is known as an actress in Hollywood, with recent roles in TV series including Executive Suite, James At 15 and Husbands And Wives and as a call-girl in an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Noble is keen to shake off her image as the sweet, little gingham-gowned Patsy Ann of Bandstand. "I want so much to come back to my own country to do a strong, solid role which will once and for all get Patsy Ann off my back."

Sales plan for Wherrett series
Negotiations are already in progress to sell Peter Wherrett's big budget series on the history of the motor car internationally. The ten-part series, Peter Wherrett's Marque: 100 Years Of Motoring, is still in production and not due to screen on ABC until the new year. Wherrett has told TV Times, "a lot of interest has been shown and negotiations are going on in North America and England. We hope it will be the first ABC series to crack the overseas market in a big way." Wherrett also told TV Times his enthusiastic plans for a new series, potentially titled Highway One, which will follow the highway from Cairns to Darwin, circumnavigating Australia, but just needs the money to make it happen.

Malcolm Searle (pictured), host of the new 0-10 Network game show Pyramid Challenge, told TV Times, "I'm enjoying this more than I've ever enjoyed any TV work. But I won't be destroyed one way or the other when the show eventually finishes."

Rock singer Doug Parkinson is about to embark on a new role in soapie The Young Doctors, playing the manager of a country and western singer, to be played by 20-year-old Kim Durrant.

At a recent cast party to celebrate the first birthday of The Restless Years, TEN10 chief Ian Kennon announced that the network has chosen to renew the series for a further twelve months.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"When will the 0-10 Network realise that Blankety Blanks is the most boring show on TV?  Graham Kennedy wants a rap on the knuckles and told to get on with it. It should be a fast-moving show." A. Wilton, QLD.

"I eagerly sat down to watch ATV0's late movie The African Queen, as advertised in all TV guides.  But I had made a sad mistake, for The African Queen was obviously of secondary importance. Of primary concern was Ross D Wyllie and his endless rambling concerning mindless trivia. I realise ATV0 is a commercial channel and Mr Wyllie has to earn a living, but really!" H. Boer, VIC.

againstthewind "What a great pity it is that ABC did not make that fine series Against The Wind (pictured). We would have been spared the excessive ads which break the concentration of the viewer." M. Nolan, NSW.

What's On (October 21-27):
ATV0 screens live coverage of the Custom Credit Indoor Tennis Championships, from Sydney's Hordern Pavilion, on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Commentators are Ray Warren and Bill Bowrey.

In a repeat of GTV9's The Paul Hogan Show, Paul Hogan and his team send up Number 96 and Pot Of Gold. Delvene Delaney joins Strop (John Cornell) and Hoges to discover the hazards of health clinics.

Barry Creyton and Kate Fitzpatrick are guest panelists on ABC's Micro Macro.  Followed by A Visit To The Uncle, the final episode of the comedy series Tickled Pink on ABC, starring Barry Otto, Max Gillies, Bunney Brooke and Johnny Lockwood.

This Is Your Life host Roger Climpson is joined by Annette Allison and Mike Higgins to host the Miss Australia 1979 contest, live from Brisbane, screening on HSV7 on Friday night.  In the same timeslot, ATV0 presents 21 Hours In Munich, a special movie presentation tracing the events at the 1972 Olympic Games which saw Arab terrorists kill two Israeli athletes and taking nine others hostage.

Sunday night movies are The Ghost Of Flight 401 (HSV7), Night Flight To Moscow (GTV9) and Carry On Abroad (ATV0). ABC presents a Sunday night opera, Lucrezia Borgia, from the Australian Opera Company featuring Joan Sutherland and the Elizabethan Symphony Orchestra.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 21 October 1978.  ABC/ACP

ABC-SBS merger? again?

abc_2001 Newspaper reports in recent days have indicated that there could be moves, again, to merge our two national broadcasters, ABC and SBS.

And, of course, ABC boss Mark Scott thinks it's not such a bad idea:

"We think there are opportunities for efficiencies to be made whilst ensuring the independence and integrity of two great public broadcasters."

Not quite sure that SBS would have the same enthusiasm.

sbs_protest SBS has had to fight two attempts already to merge it with the much-larger ABC. The first, prompted by Labor prime minister Bob Hawke in the mid-1980s, saw a great level of community protest from multicultural groups that saw the merger as a threat to SBS' status as 'their' broadcaster, as SBS would inevitably vanish in the process and be replaced with an ABC2-type channel, something that would have suited ABC to the ground as a step towards emulating the grand lady of public broadcasting, BBC.

abc_sbs_mergerIn 2000, controversial ABC chief Jonathan Shier also flagged the idea of merging the two broadcasters. The thought of ABC getting its hands on SBS funding, and access to SBS' allocation of digital television spectrum to add to its own, was obviously too good for Shier to ignore. Though while the 1986-87 merger proposal incurred the wrath of SBS supporters, in 2000 the thought of ABC merging with the semi-commercially-funded SBS saw the ABC purists dreading advertising finding its way to the national broadcaster. But from memory, Shier's 2000 campaign to bring SBS and ABC together did not inspire as much passionate debate as in 1986-7, but without the idea being driven by the Government perhaps it was never going to reach fruition anyway, and was probably more a case of Mr Shier just being controversial to grab a headline.

Of course, ABC's recent enthusiasm for 'partnering' with SBS is in stark contrast to the late-1970s, when the Fraser government invited the then Australian Broadcasting Commission to take on the responsibility of the fledgling multicultural broadcasting service which at that point consisted only of two radio stations - 2EA Sydney and 3EA Melbourne. But ABC took no interest in taking part, even though its own charter probably implied that perhaps it should.

brucegyngell_1 And on the eve of SBS launching its first television service, Channel 0/28, its chief executive Bruce Gyngell (pictured) recalled that in the early stages of the government establishing a multicultural television service, ABC continued to show a lack of interest in participation:

"If you look at the ABC's submission to the Senate, they lumped multicultural television along with, and I quote, 'rural science and other minority interests'."

sbs_2008 Perhaps now with the benefit of history, Mr Scott would like to see ABC and SBS together as one, but thirty years since the proverbial horse has bolted, it might now just amount to wishful thinking.

Pictures: 20/20 Vision, SBS. December 2000

Monday, 13 October 2008

1978: October 14-20

tvtimes_141078 Cover: Farrah Fawcett-Majors

Debbie's agony isn't over yet
Former Young Talent Time star Debbie Byrne might have had drug possession charges against her and her husband dismissed by a Melbourne magistrate, but the 21-year-old quickly realised that she was being tried all over again - by the public. "I feel as though I have to prove my innocence all over again," she told TV Times. "I'd done nothing wrong at all and yet there was my name in a newspaper story associated with drugs. And I know some people think there's no smoke without the fire." Byrne and her husband David were in temporary share house accommodation, a 23-roomed Edwardian mansion, when police found the drugs. "The magistrate was convinced that we knew nothing about the drugs when he dismissed the charges - and he was right. But I learned my lesson. I won't ever share a house again after this experience." Byrne is now busy working on a new musical comedy series being made in Sydney for ABC.

steveraymond People come first
The 0-10 Network's Steve Raymond (pictured) has chosen to put the focus on people rather than events in his new afternoon show: "We are finding plenty of interesting people because we do our homework. We'll have well-researched interviews, quality entertainment with people like Julie Anthony and Marcia Hines, and a sense of fun. You can't hit people over the head with a verbal sledgehammer at 1.30 in the afternoon."

007 - Sorry wrong number!
New Zealand-born actor Noel Trevarthen was working in the United Kingdom when he was a fraction away from becoming the next James Bond, until Roger Moore agreed to lower his asking price, "it was something of a disappointment." The actor first came to Australia in 1969 for the drama series The Rovers, and apart from a brief stint back in the UK, has been in Australia ever since and is now settled in to the 0-10 Network series The Restless Years.

Invention must be a snoring success
The Inventors' panelist Diana Fisher is hoping that entrants in the show's anti-snoring competition will improve on her own method in dealing with a snoring spouse: "When Humphrey snored, a foot or an elbow went his way. I found a swift kick to turn him over worked." The competition, to run for five weeks, will endeavour to uncover the ultimate anti-snoring device with a continental quilt offered as first prize.

Sue Smithers (pictured), who replaced Deborah Coulls in The Restless Years, has now been written out of the series.

The Sullivans' Paul Cronin is sitting for a portrait to be entered for this year's Archibald Prize.

Melbourne's HSV7 have said that they may not seek a new co-host for Ernie Sigley on Penthouse '78 after the departure of Mary Hardy.

saturdayshow_2Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"Congratulations to the ABC! I have just learnt that another series of The Saturday Show (pictured) will be produced in 1979 and the first series is expected also to be repeated next year." C. Isaac, TAS.

"The ultimate horror in commercials has arrived, and those of us who wouldn't watch Garry McDonald if they paid us have now to put up with him in TV commercials. If there was ever a commercial to turn me off the product it's one with Garry McDonald/Norman Gunston." E. James, NSW.

"Why do TV stations insist on showing copyright warnings and cautions at the end of a show (after we've all copied it) instead of at the beginning?" P. Cunningham, NSW.

What's On (October 14-20):
HSV7's summer tennis coverage starts off with the South Pacific Classic, live from Milton tennis courts, Brisbane, over both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

On Monday night, HSV7 screens a live telecast of the selection and crowning of Miss Victoria for 1979, hosted by newsreader Mal Walden.

Featured in this week's The Paul Hogan Show on GTV9 is a sketch titled Seeds, a send-up of the mini-series Roots. Also featured is a sketch featuring the cast visiting a supermarket in the year 2000, a send-up of Starsky And Hutch and a sketch on energy conservation.

ATV0 presents a Thursday night documentary, Scream And You're Dead, aimed to warn women about sexual assault. Evidence for the program is the result of seven years' investigation by the Police Department of Western Australia. Later the same night, HSV7 presents a one-hour documentary, Birth, examining childbirth practices in western society. The special, narrated by Scottish-born psychiatrist Dr R D Laing, was produced in New Zealand and has been already screened to wide acclaim in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa.

On Friday night, ATV0 presents a special edition of Peter Couchman Tonight marking the final appearance in Melbourne of Dame Edna Everage, recorded at the end of her recent Australian tour.

Sunday night movies are Three Days Of The Condor (HSV7), Night Flight From Moscow (GTV9) and The Black Windmill (ATV0) - though there are some movie epics scheduled through the week as well: El Cid (HSV7, Wednesday), The Sound Of Music (GTV9, Wednesday) and the television premiere of Cleopatra (GTV9, Friday).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 14 October 1978.  ABC/ACP

Saturday, 11 October 2008

ABC1 remembers The Wild One

johnnyokeefe Next month, ABC1 presents a revealing documentary profiling the life of Australia's first rock 'n' roll star Johnny O'Keefe.

With a career starting in the early-'50s, O'Keefe became a national identity as a performer, and later host, on one of Australia's first rock music shows, ABC's Six O'Clock Rock, from 1959 to 1962.

johnnyokeefe_singsingsing After Six O'Clock Rock, O'Keefe went to host the Seven Network's The Johnny O'Keefe Show, later re-named Sing Sing Sing, and the 0-10 Network's Where The Action Is.

Amidst a recording career that produced over 50 singles and 100 albums, O'Keefe survived a near-fatal car crash and several nervous breakdowns before staging a comeback in the '70s.  He was honoured in an episode of the original This Is Your Life in 1975, and made a guest appearance on Sounds only days before he passed away in October 1978 at the age of 43.

The life of Johnny O'Keefe was later dramatised in a TV mini-series Shout! and in more recent years his life story was also adapted to a stage spectacular.  In 1988, he was posthumously inducted into the ARIA's Hall of Fame.

Johnny O'Keefe: The Wild One.  Thursday 6 November, 9.30pm.  ABC1

Biographical information: Johnny O'Keefe Website, Wikipedia

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

YouTube: Revisiting Skippy

It's been a while since a YouTube video has featured here, but I came across this one recently and thought it would be of interest.

This video takes us back to the original locale used for the 1960s children's series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, an area adjacent to the Ku-ring-gai National Park, north of Sydney.  Surprisingly, the ranger's headquarters - constructed specifically for the series' production  - is still intact, though showing some signs of wear.  The helipad is now a duck pond but the building's interior is like a time capsule with the decor and furnishings appearing to be virtually untouched since being occupied by Skippy and her fellow co-stars.

Ninety-one episodes of Skippy The  Bush Kangaroo were made between 1966 and 1969.  The program was made by Fauna Productions with some financial assistance from the Nine Network, and was sold to 128 countries including the United States where it was syndicated to 160 local television stations.  A feature film, Skippy And The Intruders, was also made.

Skippy also recently made news when one of the show's former stars, actor Tony Bonner, made a claim for royalties from the series following the DVD release.

Skippy The Bush Kangaroo also starred Ed Devereaux, Ken James (who later went on to The Group, The Box and Skyways), Garry Pankhurst, Liza Goddard and a guest list that includes some of Australia's most well-known actors.

A far more detailed history and episode rundown of Skippy The Bush Kangaroo can be found at TV Eye - Classic Australian Television.

YouTube: leokimvideo
IMDB: Skippy The Bush Kangaroo

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Stop the digital TV discrimination!

TV_set Not only did ABC announce the upcoming launch of its new ABC News Breakfast venture for ABC2, but also press reports last week indicated that the commercial networks appear to be putting in some planning and acquiring programming for their new standard-definition digital channels that they are permitted to launch from 1 January 2009.

But, while it is great to see our national broadcaster and commercial networks embracing their digital future, the community TV sector continues to be left wanting for a piece of the digital pie.

Both past and present governments have done little to ensure community TV has a migration path to digital transmission - while our national and commercial broadcasters have had access to free digital spectrum, allowed to run in parallel to their analogue frequencies, plus other concessions and incentives to roll-out digital transmission sites in order to fulfil the Government's digital transition strategy.

access31 The plight of Perth's Access 31, which has now since ceased operation, is a reminder that without a licence to broadcast in digital, the community TV sector risks losing its relevance in the market and, therefore, its financial sustainability as it will struggle to find sponsorship funds when its viewer base is being eroded - particularly as the market penetration of digital tuners is on the increase and will continue to do so as ABC, SBS and commercial operators ramp up their digital offerings.

What can you or I do to help? Tell the Government what community TV means to you, that you support its transition to digital and that the Government provides the technical (ie. digital spectrum) and financial means to do so.

Write to Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Write to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Contact your local community television station for more information:

C31 Melbourne
TVS Sydney
QCTV Brisbane
C31 Adelaide

Disclaimer: I write this article only as a digital TV viewer who has effectively lost access to viewing my local Channel 31*. I have no connection or affiliation to any community TV group so the views expressed here are my own and not intended to represent those of any community TV organisation.

* and yes, I am aware that there are steps to be taken to essentially have the analogue signal 'bypass' the digital set-top-box connection to my TV set. It is not a practical solution in this instance.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

1978: October 7-13

tvtimes_071078 The Sammys: Who will win?
TV Times promises a glittering night of stars when the third annual Australian Film and TV Awards - otherwise known as The Sammys - will be presented this week from the Seymour Centre in Sydney. The awards are a joint venture between TV Times, the Seven Network and the Variety Club of Australia. Roger Climpson will be the awards host and among the presenters to take part in the awards will be Tasmanian-born Hollywood actress Merle Oberon.

There are 39 award categories in this year's Sammy awards covering both film and television, but not all will be included in the two-hour Seven Network telecast. Following is a list of some of the award categories and nominations:

bertnewton_boot Best Variety Performer: Bert Newton (pictured), Paul Hogan, Don Lane, Barry Crocker, Marcia Hines, Julie Anthony, Garry McDonald

Best Actress In A TV Series: Joanne Samuel, Lorraine Bayly, Jill Forster, Tina Grenville, Paula Duncan, Rowena Wallace, Julieanne Newbould, June Salter

sonnyblake Best Actor In A TV Series: Paul Cronin, Sonny Blake (pictured), Nick Hedstrom, Malcolm Thompson, Tim Page, George Mallaby, Peter Adams, John Hamblin

Best Drama Series: Case For The Defense, Young Ramsay, The Sullivans, Cop Shop, The Young Doctors, The Restless Years

Best Sports Coverage: Australian Open Golf, VFL Grand Final, Davis Cup Tennis, World Series Cricket, VFA Grand Final, Hardie Ferodo 1977

Best Current Affairs Program: Willesee At Seven, Four Corners, A Current Affair, Eleven AM, Shoulder To Shoulder.

Best Comedy Program: The Norman Gunston Show, The Naked Vicar Show, Bobby Dazzler, Father Dear Father, The Paul Hogan Show, The Dave Allen Show, Benny Hill In Australia

Best Children's Series: Romper Room, Fat Cat And Friends, Here's Humphrey, Super Flying Fun Show, The Curiosity Show, What In The World, The Magic Bag, Wombat, This Week Has Seven Days, Happy-Go-Round, Magicat

memory03Best Light Entertainment Series: Family Feud, This Is Your Life, Sound Unlimited, It's Not Just A Story, Blankety Blanks (pictured), The Mike Walsh Show, The Peter Couchman Show, Countdown, Mastermind, Nightmoves

Gold (Female): Cornelia Frances, Delvene Delaney, Lorraine Bayly, June Salter, Marcia Hines, Noeline Brown, Paula Duncan, Joanna Lockwood, Caroline Jones, Julieanne Newbould, Wendy Hughes.

mikewillesee Gold (Male): Don Lane, Paul Hogan, Mike Walsh, Graham Kennedy, John Waters, Harry Butler, Roger Climpson, Garry McDonald, Robert Moore, Mike Willesee (pictured), Sir Robert Helpmann, Paul Cronin, Gulpilil, Bill Hunter.

Grundy claims record!
Reg Grundy Productions
is claiming a world record for an independent TV production company. The company has a current production schedule of around 30 hours a week of TV programming, with programs emanating from four capital cities: The Restless Years, The Young Doctors and Blankety Blanks from Sydney, The Daryl And Ossie Show from Melbourne, Pyramid Challenge and Perfect Match from Brisbane, and Family Feud from Perth. Although this only accounts for around 17 hours a week of TV airtime, production of game show episodes are produced in larger quantities each week to enable stockpiling of episodes. For instance, Pyramid Challenge has 20 episodes being produced in one week, while they are only aired at a rate of five per week.

moniquedaams Not just a pretty face!
Monique Daams (pictured) is the girl adding a touch of glamour to the 0-10 Network's The Daryl And Ossie Show. The Dutch-born 24-year-old has appeared in numerous TV commercials and modelling contests - winning the Australian Quest of Quests four years ago - but this is her first regular TV appearance. Executive producer of The Daryl And Ossie Show, Bill Mason, predicts a big future for Daams, "We wanted a fresh face, one that was not over exposed on TV, and someone with intelligence as well as beauty. We saw several dozen girls and Monique fitted our concept perfectly. We think she has a big future in TV."

Just briefly:
Crawford Productions and the 0-10 Network are planning a new police drama for next year, tentatively titled Murder Squad.

Harry Michael's Greek Affair looks like becoming a home away from home for former Number 96 stars, with Elaine Lee, Joe Hasham, Bettina Welch and Shiela Kennelly having filled in for Michaels who is in Greece.

Paul Jennings, the former radio newsman whose political impersonations made him a national personality on shows like A Current Affair, is now working backstage at ATV0 as the warm-up man for the studio audience of The Tea Ladies.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"There are many things on TV that bother me, but three things especially make me clench my fists. The first is Ross D Wylie on ATV0. I like the movies they put on but I can never stay awake once he comes on. And why can't GTV9 bring their late movies up to date? We're almost into the 1980s and they're showing films from the 1940s and 1950s. And I like Mike Walsh but I also like a bit of variety. I'm sick to death of soap operas." S. Edgell, VIC.

"I am sick of reading letters complaining of small inaccuracies in the production of The Sullivans. Some the criticisms are not even valid. Even if the criticisms do have some basis, surely a more constructive way of rectifying the mistake is to write to Crawford Productions directly." A Pellizzer, VIC.

What's On (October 7-13):
The Nine Network's new early-morning show, The Job Show, debuts on Monday, screening weekdays at 6.30am leading in to The Super Flying Fun Show.

The third annual Sammy Awards are on HSV7 on Wednesday night at 8.30pm, honouring the best talent in Australian film and television.

GTV9 presents the (TV Week) King Of Pop Awards, a 90-minute presentation on Friday night, hosted by Glenn Shorrock with special guests Kate Bush and Leif Garrett.

Sunday night movies are The Great Scout And Cathouse Thursday (HSV7) and Lost Horizon (ATV0) while GTV9 presents the first instalment of mini-series The Bastard, with remaining parts screened on the following two nights.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 7 October 1978. ABC/ACP