Friday, 31 December 2010

2010: We remember…

Farewell 2010… and “hello” to ‘11

freeview_channels It’s New Year’s Eve and another year comes to a close.  We saw the launch of more digital channels – 7mate, GEM, ABC News 24.  There was another hit season of MasterChef Australia, joined this year by Junior MasterChefHey Hey It’s Saturday was back for a longer run but failed to match the ratings high of its reunion shows of 2009.

Neighbours celebrated 25 years and SBS turned 30.

Bert Newton was back as host of the TV Week Logie AwardsHome And Away’s Ray Meagher won the Gold Logie and the late Brian Naylor was posthumously inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards’ Hall of Fame.  A Current Affair celebrated Reg Grundy.

gtv9_22bendigostreet GTV9 said farewell to 22 Bendigo Street and ATN7 moved out of Epping.

Television turned 50 in TasmaniaABC celebrated 50 years in Adelaide, Perth and Hobart – and analogue television was switched off in Mildura, regional South Australia and Broken Hill.

Kerry O’Brien signed off from The 7.30 ReportTalking Heads wound up after six years. 

commonwealthgames_2010 The Winter Olympics were on Nine, and the Commonwealth Games were on Ten.  Nine said farewell to Wimbledon after more than thirty years.  Sport was given the 3D treatment on free-to-air and Foxtel.

Right here we documented the year 1990 as reported in the pages of TV Week – and will continue the theme into 2011 as we follow the corresponding period in 1991.

11 2011 brings with it the long-awaited launch of Network Ten’s new digital channel, Eleven, across most of Australia – and the launch of Ten’s expanded news portfolio with a new 6.00pm program with George Negus and city-based 6.30pm news bulletins.

There will be more MasterChef, but will Hey Hey It’s Saturday be back?  Will Neighbours survive the transition to Eleven?  Will the revamped The 7.30 Report make up for the loss of Kerry O’Brien?   

Will Hamish and Andy, having walked away from most of their radio commitments, make a determined shift into TV?

There will be more drama from Underbelly on Nine, East West 101 on SBS and a new series, Winners And Losers, on Seven. Packed To The Rafters will try to move on from the death of character Melissa (Zoe Ventoura) – and what will become of the bubbling sexual tension between Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) and Chris Havel (Don Hany) in Offspring?  Will Ten’s planned prison drama come to fruition?

4corners ABC’s Four Corners will celebrate its 50th anniversary, while ABC News Breakfast plans to move from ABC2 to ABC1.  Regional television in Victoria will turn 50 and will farewell analogue transmission. Television in Darwin will turn 40.  And it will be 20 years since aggregation came to Northern NSW and the Gold Coast.

US show Sesame Street will reach 40 years on Australian television – and The Simpsons turns 20.

Digital television turns ten years old on 1 January – while certain areas of Australia are still yet to see the benefits of the new technology.

And one blogger will – shudder – turn 40 years old!

May you all have a happy new year and a great 2011!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Queensland TV stirred up by aggregation!

qtvNorth Queensland is known to get hit by cyclones over the summer months – but in December 1990 its local television station was well and truly stirred up by a fierce wind of another sort.

The Federal Government’s aggregation policy of expanding choice of commercial television services in eastern states regional areas was about to hit its next stage – aggregating the Queensland regional markets of Townsville/Cairns, Rockhampton/Darling Downs and Wide Bay/Mackay into a competitive market comprised of the three regions’ commercial monopoly services – QTV, Star Television/Vision TV and Sunshine Television Network, respectively.

sunshinetelevisionSunshine Television Network (officially, SEQ8 Wide Bay and MVQ6 Mackay) was all set to be aligned to the Seven Network, while Star Television (RTQ7 Rockhampton) and Vision TV (DDQ0 Darling Downs) were to be affiliated to Network Ten and QTV (TNQ7 Townsville and FNQ10 Cairns) was preparing to tie-in with Nine as they each planned to expand into each others’ markets to give viewers a choice of three commercial channels.

Star Television’s RTQ7 was owned by WIN, the regional broadcaster that had affiliated with the Nine Network in Southern NSW and Canberra when  that market was formed with aggregation in 1989.  Obviously, having Star Television linked to the third-ranked, and financially-troubled, Ten Network was not a desirable scenario. 

As a result, on Christmas Eve, 1990, WIN sealed a deal to buy out Star’s sister station, Darling Downs-based Vision TV (DDQ0), from owner David Haynes and in the process had tied up a deal with the Nine Network for programming Star for the expanded regional Queensland market. 

startelevisionThe deal was going to turn Star’s schedule completely around at only a week’s notice before the launch date across the expanded market – 31 December.  But the news was worse for QTV.  Although QTV’s owners, Telecasters North Queensland – ironically, a company 21 per cent owned by Nine – had been negotiating a program supply deal with Nine for three years, they had still yet to sign the dotted line as aggregation was fast looming.  Negotiations were continuing on the basis that Telecasters felt that Nine were still asking for too much in affiliation fees – essentially a significant percentage of all income received – which would leave QTV basically operating as a slave to the Nine Network with no local production, which they felt would be looked upon poorly by the broadcasting authority, and such a steep levy would financially hurt their shareholders.  The situation was further compounded by the fact that any previous negotiations with Nine as an Alan Bond-owned company were now apparently thrown out as Kerry Packer had re-gained control of the Nine Network and the network was seeking top dollar for its output. 

brucegordon_2It should be noted, also, that WIN owner Bruce Gordon (pictured) was a long-time friend of the Packer family – having got his first break in the business via Kerry’s father Sir Frank in the mid 1970s.  WIN had apparently expressed some interest in gaining the Nine affiliation for Queensland six months before aggregation, when Packer regained control of Nine, but nothing more came of it until WIN was approached by Nine at the last minute after negotiations with QTV had appeared to have stalled just days before Christmas.  The deal for WIN to buy DDQ0 and sign Star Television up with Nine followed.

Telecasters North Queensland got informed on Christmas Eve that Nine was withdrawing its offer to provide programs for QTV as it had now partnered with Star (WIN), leaving QTV with no network partner to supply programming. 

"You don't expect your largest shareholder to pull the plug on you," QTV general manager David Astley told the Sydney Morning Herald, "but that's just what they have done."

It was not disclosed at the time if Gordon had agreed to pay the same programming levies that Nine had demanded of Telecasters North Queensland – although WIN general manager John Rushton told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We didn't pay them what they initially asked and we had to pay them more than what we initially said we should.” – but the deal struck between WIN and Nine apparently also tied in with a re-negotiated program supply deal for WIN’s existing station in Southern NSW and Canberra. 

A frantic few days followed as Telecasters had quickly formed ties with the Ten Network.  Telecasters had little option but to align with Ten as the rival networks, Star and Sunshine, were now firmly affiliated to Nine and Seven respectively.

QTV’s station identification at the start of 1990…

… and how QTV looked by the end of 1990.

QTV’s pre-aggregation schedule, promotion and sales activity had been based heavily on its planned Nine Network affiliation, so the broadcaster had to re-align its entire schedule and rate card to match Ten’s.  Meanwhile, Star Television was re-branding itself as WIN, to match its NSW counterparts, and was obviously happier in replacing its Ten Network schedule with the top-rating Nine Network line-up.

qtv_0001Telecasters were putting on a brave face, however, telling viewers that they were feeling far more at ease at dealing with Ten than they were dealing with a rigid Nine Network, and were confident that Ten’s revamped schedule, including new US titles The Simpsons and Twin Peaks, going into 1991 was going to work for QTV.  Ratings would likely not be as high as with Nine affiliation, but neither would the overheads and affiliation fees.

The change also saw QTV re-work its evening news structure – instead of supplementing its half-hour local news service with National Nine News from Brisbane, the new-look QTV was now going to run its own one-hour bulletin, QTV Eyewitness News, covering both local and national news and presented by former Brisbane newsreader Bruce Paige alongside existing QTV news presenter Samantha Kume.

win_1989 The wash-up from the pre-aggregation tussle also brought out repercussions.  The then Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT) in 1991 launched an investigation to determine if Packer had excessive influence over the regional Queensland market, as he continued to own 21 per cent of Telecasters North Queensland, even though it had become a Ten affiliate, and had indirect influence over the market through his Nine Network affiliation to WIN.  Packer later sold his interest in Telecasters, and the company further cemented its ties with the Ten Network by becoming the largest Australian shareholder in the network – buying a 40 per cent stake in Ten in 1992.

In 1993, QTV was re-branded on-air as Ten Queensland and, with Telecasters being bought out by Southern Cross Broadcasting in 2001, the network was then re-branded to its current identity, Southern Cross Ten.  While QTV and Ten Queensland had maintained a locally-based news service in its north Queensland markets, the change to Southern Cross saw the bulletin cancelled with subsequent local news content for the region, as with other Southern Cross Ten markets, provided only via brief news updates compiled in Canberra.

southerncrossten_2001 southerncrossten

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 1990, 12 January 1991, 10 July 1991.  The Age, 27 May 2004.
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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

1990: December 29-January 4

tvweek_291290 Summer Bay was never like this!
Home And Away’s Mat Stevenson and Emily Symons, who play lovebirds Adam and Marilyn in the series, had a few days at Great Keppel Island during a production break for the Seven Network series.  Stevenson is now holidaying in America while Symons is doing a pantomime in the UK before production for Home And Away resumes in the new year.

Hey Hey it’s Daryl!
TV Week
announces that Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s Daryl Somers will host the 33rd annual TV Week Logie Awards to be held in March and televised on the Nine Network.  The awards presentation will also be held at a new venue – the World Congress Centre in Melbourne.  It will be Somers’ second hosting of the Awards, having hosted the night once before in 1988.  “I enjoyed the hell out of it,” Somers told TV Week.  “It proved to be a really rewarding experience from an adrenalin point of view.  The whole team was very innovative and I like going out on a limb, so I’m looking forward to doing it again.  The industry might be down at the moment, but hopefully the Logies will be the usual night of fun.”

Have a soapie new year!
There will be plenty of dramas, romance, new arrivals and shock departures as Australia’s popular soaps enter a new year: 

  • sophieheathcote A Country Practice celebrates its 800th episode in February and the series will soon welcome a new matron to replace departing matron Ann Brennan (Mary Regan) – while Luke Ross (Matt Day) faces a new life in the city as an apprentice with Qantas, but what will happen with his potential relationship with Steve Brennan (Sophie Heathcote, pictured)?
  • Neighbours’ lovebirds Matt (Ashley Paske) and Gemma (Beth Buchanan) have moved in together, much to the frustration of Madge (Anne Charleston) and Harold (Ian Smith).  Joe Mangel (Mark Little) faces the possibility of losing his daughter Sky (Miranda Fryer) as her natural father Eric (John Ley) is desperate to win a custody battle and take her to New Zealand following the death of her mother Kerry (Linda Hartley).  And Jim Robinson (Alan Dale) faces a dilemma when a man claiming to be his illegitimate son arrives in Ramsay Street.
  • paulkelman Former E Street star Paul Kelman (pictured) makes a guest appearance in ABC’s GP before starting an extended role in Nine’s The Flying Doctors.  Also joining the Nine Network series will be David Reyne, Nikki Coghill and Sophie Lee.
  • E Street enters its third season with the departure of cast members Penny Cook, Vic Rooney and Warren Jones – but joining the series will be former A Country Practice star Kate Raison and former Family And Friends star Adrian Lee.  Meanwhile, the relationship between Harley (Malcolm Kennard) and Toni (Toni Pearen) faces challenges as Harley is hired as a ‘personal assistant’ to newspaper editor Sheridan Sturgess (Raison) and Toni takes a sudden interest in feminism with the encouragement of free-minded Alice (Marianne Howard).
  • homeandaway_0001 Home And Away will start 1991 with Bobby (Nicolle Dickson) lying in hospital waiting to find out the fate of her unborn child.  A new policeman, Constable Nick Parish (Bruce Roberts) moves into Summer Bay – as the relationship between Pippa (Debra Lawrence) and Michael (Dennis Coard) is challenged with the arrival of Michael’s wife Cynthia (former The Box and Sons And Daughters star Belinda Giblin).  Sophie (Rebekah Elmaloglou) becomes embroiled in a love triangle with Blake (Les Hill) and new arrival Hayden (Andrew Hill).

Aussie-based actress Imogen Annesley, currently starring in the UK soap Families, had looked forward to a rest in Sydney while the soap was on a break.  Instead, she has been in Melbourne as the last-minute replacement for Tammy MacIntosh in the comedy film Garbo.  MacIntosh had to withdraw from the movie after suffering a broken collarbone.

bunneybrooke_0001 E Street producers have now had second thoughts about not renewing the contract of Bunney Brooke (pictured), who plays Aunty Vi in the series.  They had originally planned to have Aunty Vi exit the series to coincide with the departure of Ernie Patchett (Vic Rooney) but her popularity in the show appears to have saved her character from the axe.

Several Nine Network personalities were on hand at Sydney’s Hard Rock Cafe to assist with its hosting of a Christmas dinner for 100 needy people from the Sydney City Mission.  A Current Affair host Jana Wendt was in charge of serving the greens, Today’s Steve Liebmann and Elizabeth Hayes were in charge of turkey and mash and MTV’s Richard Wilkins was driving the gravy train.

John Laws says…
”Why on earth does Nine make such little use of its stump cam gimmick?  When it was first introduced we were told how revolutionary it was, and how nothing like it had been done before and how it would change the way we viewed cricket on TV.  Which was all absolutely correct.  But what does Nine achieve with stump cam?  Very little, it seems to me.”

Program Highlights (December 29-January 4):
  More tennis (Hopman Cup from Perth) on HSV7 and cricket (second test from the MCG) on GTV9.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are The River Rat (HSV7) and Wills And Burke (ATV10), while ABC presents the Vienna New Year Concert, featuring the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Monday (New Year’s Eve):  HSV7’s summer of tennis continues with the Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championships, live from Brisbane.  ATV10’s Neighbours makes an early return for the 1991 season.  The new year is heralded by MTV Party Zone on GTV9, a repeat of The Wall – Berlin Concert on ATV10 and all-night Rage on ABC.

Tuesday:  GTV9 crosses to Sydney for the Benson And Hedges World Series cricket, Australia versus England.

Friday:  GTV9’s cricket coverage continues with Day One of the Third Test, Australia versus England, live from Sydney.  Virginia Hey, Ernie Dingo, Nick Tate and Trey Ames star in GTV9’s family drama series Dolphin Cove, a US production set in Queensland. 

Source: TV Week (Victoria country edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 29 December 1990. Southdown Press.

1990: December 22-28

tvweek_221290Cover: Three Men And A Little Lady

‘I have no intention of staying in E Street for seven years…’
Joan Sydney doesn’t know much about the character she is going to play in Network Ten’s E Street, except for one thing – she won’t be anything like Maggie Sloan, the matron she played in A Country Practice for seven years.  “I have to have a talk with the producers about my character, because I’m not interested in playing a matron again,” Sydney told TV Week.  “I’m interested in doing something quite different.”  She is also adamant that her E Street role will not last as long as that of Matron Sloan.  “I only went into A Country Practice for six months, and ended up staying seven years.  I didn’t know who I was when I came out of that – until I threw away the corset and cut my hair.  So I have no intention of staying in E Street for seven years.”

iainfinlaytrishsheppard There is a life beyond 2000!
Beyond 2000 reporter Iain Finlay and partner, associate producer Trish Sheppard are leaving the popular Seven Network program to embark on a new venture – chronicling their 25 years of life and adventure together in the form of a trilogy.  Their life together has taken them to the wilds of Africa, to the Amazon River and freezing Siberia, amongst many other places. 

wendyharmer Back in Harmer’s way!
Following a successful tour of the UK, comedian Wendy Harmer (pictured) is returning to ABC and the show that made her a household name.  She will be re-joining The Big Gig in the new year as part as a reduced line-up to feature in the comedy show – following the departure of Jean Kittson, the Doug Anthony All Stars and this year’s host Glynn Nicholas.  “I will be compering, but I don’t know whether it will be a full-time arrangement,” Harmer told TV Week.  “I’m keen to get back because it looks like the show will be a lot different in format next year.”

Neighbours star Richard Norton has been informed by producers that they won’t be renewing his contract when it expires in February.  “I was really counting on the six months to be working, but that’s the way it goes in this business.  It was my first experience in television so I’ve learnt a lot,” he told TV Week.

Vikki Blanche, who plays Julia in the Ten Network sitcom Col’n Carpenter, has quit the series and is planning to head to London and New York to take acting classes.  “I decided I’d done a year and I’ve learned a lot,” she told TV Week.  “I had a good time.  It’s the first time I’d done comedy in a formalised way.  I learnt a lot about setting up gags and rhythm.  Kim (Gyngell) is so good and he helped Stig (Wemyss) and me a lot.”

guypearce Former Neighbours star Guy Pearce (pictured) is set to make his stage acting debut with the role of Danny Zuko in the upcoming production of Grease.  The role of Sandy, made famous in the 1978 film version by Olivia Newton-John, is tipped to go to Perth actress Louise Anton, a host of the WA variety program Young Entertainers and a performer on Midday With Ray Martin.

John Laws says…
”One of TV’s major successes in 1990 was SBS’ screening of the British production Seven Up, which traced the lives of 14 people from age 7 through to 28.  It was fascinating and, as I’ve said previously, I can’t wait for the latest “seven-year” episode, which will reveal what is happening in the lives of the Seven Up subjects at age 35.  At the time I wrote about Seven Up, I wondered why someone in Australia hadn’t done something similar.  Well, of course, they had.  And just recently, on ABC, I was fortunate enough to catch a repeat screening of Gillian Armstrong’s wonderful documentary Bingo, Bridesmaids And Braces.”

Program Highlights (December 22-28):
Saturday:  HSV7
presents a direct telecast of Carols In The Domain, hosted by Barry Crocker and featuring Tina Arena, Jeanne Little, Grace Knight, Clare Gormley, The Salvation Army Massed Choirs, Cafe Of The Gate Of Salvation and The Sydney Symphony Youth Orchestra.  Following the carols, Tony Charlton hosts The Australian Dancesport Championships.

Sunday:  HSV7 presents a day full of Christmas specials, starting with The Flintstones’ Christmas at 9.00am and continuing with movies and specials right through to 6.00pm.  Sunday night movies are I’ll Be Home For Christmas (HSV7), Heaven’s Gate (GTV9) and A Hobo’s Christmas (ATV10).

Monday:  At 11.30am, HSV7, GTV9 and ATV10 present a repeat simulcast of the US animated special Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue.  The half-hour program first appeared simultaneously across all three channels in November.  At 9.00pm, GTV9 presents a live telecast of the Royal Victorian Institute For The Blind’s Carols By Candlelight from Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl, hosted by Ray Martin and featuring Suzanne Johnston, Debbie Byrne, Wendy Stapleton, Denise Drysdale, The Seekers, Simon Gallagher, Denis Walter, John Diedrich and Marilyn Richardson.

Tuesday:  Christmas Day is dominated by Christmas specials and movies – and GTV9 presents a late-morning repeat of Carols By Candlelight.  At 6.00pm, ABC presents the Countdown Revolution Christmas Special, featuring Kate Ceberano, the Doug Anthony All Stars, Stephen Cummings and Reg Mombassa.  The Queen’s Christmas Message is broadcast on ABC (7.20pm), HSV7 (10.15pm), GTV9 (10.30pm), ATV10 (during Ten Evening News at 6.00pm) and SBS (6.20pm).

Wednesday:  ABC presents live coverage of the start of the traditional Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race, and GTV9 crosses to the MCG in the mid-afternoon for Australia versus England in Day One of the Second Test.

Thursday:  HSV7 presents live coverage from Perth of the Hopman Cup tennis – starting at 8.30pm and continuing through to 1.00am.

Friday:  The second day of the Hopman Cup starts at 1.00pm through to 6.00pm and then continuing from 8.30pm to 1.00am.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 22 December 1990. Southdown Press.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Eleven: Southern Cross SA joins in

11 News of the roll-out of Ten’s new digital channel Eleven continues with Southern Cross Media announcing that the channel will launch in the Spencer Gulf, SA, and Broken Hill, NSW, markets on 11 January.

The news makes a nice Christmas present for local viewers and will particularly benefit fans of Network Ten programs The Simpsons and Neighbours which will move exclusively to Eleven from 11 January.  The new channel also promises an entertainment-focused schedule of US content including Dexter, Smallville, The Office, 90210, Futurama, So You Think You Can Dance and The Cleveland Show and classic shows including The Love Boat, The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Roseanne and Family Ties.

Rick Lenarcic, Southern Cross Media’s Group General Manager for Victoria and South Australia, said that engineering work was fast-tracked to enable the channel’s launch to coincide with the launch in capital city and other regional markets:

“We’re thrilled to announce that we will be launching Channel Eleven for Spencer Gulf and Broken Hill at the same time that metropolitan viewers will have access to this new service.”

“This new service adds to our existing channels, which are based on programming supplied by the Ten, Seven and Nine networks. With the announcement of several key programs currently on Ten moving to Eleven earlier than expected, our engineering team has been working very hard to ensure that our loyal viewers don’t miss out on those programs. It is a credit to them that we are launching Channel Eleven on 11 January 2011.”

Southern Cross has already announced that the other commercial digital channels – 7TWO, 7mate, GO!, GEM and One HD – will launch across Spencer Gulf and Broken Hill regions during the first half of 2011.

Additional broadcast spectrum to enable the carriage of the extra digital channels has become available locally since the 15 December switch-off of all analogue television transmissions in regional South Australia, including Broken Hill.

Eleven will now debut on the same date through Network Ten in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, Southern Cross Ten in regional Queensland, regional NSW/ACT and regional Victoria, Tasmanian Digital Television and now via Southern Cross in Spencer Gulf and Broken Hill. 

Darwin, Mildura and Mount Gambier/Riverland are among those markets still waiting news on local transmission of Eleven.

Source: Southern Cross Media

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tasmania to get Eleven

11_hello The Tasmanian affiliate of the Ten Network, Tasmanian Digital Television (TDT), has announced that it will carry Ten’s new digital channel, 11, from 11 January – the same day that it will launch on Ten.

TDT general manager Stephen Giles announced the decision to The Examiner earlier today.

The news comes almost two weeks after Southern Cross Media (which owns half of TDT) announced that the eastern states Southern Cross Ten stations would also be carrying the new channel from the launch date.

However, there is yet to be any announcement of 11 being broadcast on other Ten affiliates Darwin Digital Television (owned jointly between Southern Cross Media and the Nine Network) and Mildura Digital Television (owned by the WIN and Prime networks).  Both affiliates are already carrying Ten’s existing digital channel One HD.

Meanwhile, Network Ten has started playing a preview loop on digital channel 11 in preparation for the new channel’s launch:

Source: The Examiner
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Friday, 17 December 2010

1990: December 15-21

tvweek_151290 Cover: Georgie Parker (A Country Practice), Julian McMahon (Home And Away)

Hey Dad… meet your new co-star!
Rachael Beck
, fresh from her role as Craig McLachlan’s sister in Home And Away, is set to join the cast of Hey Dad!  The former Family And Friends star impressed Home And Away producers enough that they offered her an ongoing role, but she was reluctant to commit to a 12-month run, so she instead auditioned for the Hey Dad! spin-off, Hampton House – with producers seemingly now keen to have her join Hey Dad! to fill the gap left by departing cast member Simone Buchanan.  In the meantime, Beck will be appearing in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of A Little Night Music.

denisedrysdale_3 Denise set for a ding-dong year!
It has been a year of ups and downs for two-time TV Week Gold Logie winner Denise Drysdale.  On the downside, she departed Hey Hey It’s Saturday amidst controversial circumstances, but the exposure from being on the show has opened up an opportunity to develop her own programs.  She has taped a pilot for a quiz show called Guess What (featuring Wendy Harmer, Lou Richards and Wilbur Wilde as guest contestants) and is developing a sitcom which is likely to star Drysdale and is tipped to feature Noelene Brown, Rosie Sturgess and former Countdown Revolution co-host Tania Lacy.  At the same time, it appears likely that In Melbourne Today, the morning talk show she presents with Ernie Sigley, will go national in 1991.

All together now…
It was a daunting task for TV Week to try to assemble 11 stars in Sydney and 12 stars in Melbourne, representing all five TV networks, for a Christmas photo shoot.  The chances that all would be available at the one time was very slim, but the networks co-operated and the photo shoot was a success:


Above: TV Week’s Christmas greetings from Sydney.  Back row (l to r): Matt Day (A Country Practice), Judy McIntosh (GP), Michael O’Neill (GP), Brian Rooney (GP), Mary Kostakidis (World News, SBS). Middle row: Alyssa-Jane Cook (E Street), Elizabeth Hayes (Today), Emily Symons (Home And Away). Front row: Bruce Samazan (E Street), Simone Buchanan (Hey Dad!), Mat Stevenson (Home And Away)

Below: And Merry Christmas with a definite comic focus from Melbourne. Back row: Air steward Daryl (Steve Vizard, Fast Forward), Matron Conniving-Bitch (Lynda Gibson, Let The Blood Run Free), Shane Bourne (Hey Hey It’s Saturday), Marika (Mark Mitchell, The Comedy Company), Wilbur Wilde (Hey Hey It’s Saturday).  Middle row: Air steward Wayne (Michael Veitch, Fast Forward), newsreader Veronica Glenhuntly (Jean Kittson, The Big Gig), Maurie Fields (Hey Hey It’s Saturday), Effie (Mary Coustas, Acropolis Now), Red Symons (Hey Hey It’s Saturday).  Front row: Vikki Blanche (Col’n Carpenter) and Nick Giannopoulos (Acropolis Now).


Former E Street regular Melissa Bell is joining the cast of Neighbours, taking on the role of Lucy Robinson, the youngest of the Robinson children.  Bell, 18, will be the third actress to take on the role, following Kylie Flinker and Sasha Close.  An upcoming storyline will see Lucy sent home from an elite boarding school after a run-in with authorities, to face the wrath of her father, Jim (Alan Dale).

pixieanne_0001 adrianaxenides_0001

Fast Forward’s Pixie-Anne Wheatley (Magda Szubanski) and Home And Away’s Craig McLachlan (pictured, above left) made an odd couple in the Seven Network’s upcoming new year promos.  In the two-minute clip, dizzy Pixie-Anne decides to make a play for McLachlan.  It culminates in her making a bungy jump from a helicopter to hand deliver him a bunch of flowers. “Magda did all her own stunts, except for one shot,” producer-director Mitch McManus told TV Week.  “She had to hang upside down by her ankles from seven metres above the studio floor, so she gets the award for best sport of the promo!”  Meanwhile (above right), Wheel Of Fortune hostess Adriana Xenides is saved from a demolition ball by Victor, the ‘very unattractive man’ (played by Peter Moon) from Fast Forward’s ‘Good Morning Moscow’ skit.

John Laws says…
”It seems that now we’ve bade a temporary goodbye to most current affairs programs on TV (maybe they’ll make a speedy comeback in the event of a shootout in the Gulf!), we can settle down for a good laugh over Christmas.  I’ve never known a period where so many “sitcoms” are being screened at the same time.  It’s as if the beleaguered television industry has decided it must giggle its way through the current economic crisis – and wants viewers in on the joke.  It’s true enough, of course, that we could all do with a bit of a laugh from TV.”

Program Highlights (December 15-21):
  Sport includes golf (Daikyo Australian Ladies’ Masters from Palm Meadows, Queensland) on ABC, tennis (Grand Slam Cup from Munich) on HSV7 and cricket (Benson And Hedges World Series from Brisbane) on GTV9.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Santa Claus: The Movie (HSV7) and Courage (ATV10).  GTV9 screens the first of the two-part mini-series, Phantom Of The Opera.

Wednesday:  In Hey Dad! (HSV7), Betty (Julie McGregor) is studying Japanese for her role in a play for the musical society.

Friday:  In a rare truce between competing programs, Today and Good Morning Australia both wind up for the Christmas break on the same day and will return together on the same day in the new year.  HSV7’s Friday night movie is the Australian film Bush Christmas, starring John Ewart, Nicole Kidman, John Howard, Mark Spain and James Wingrove.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 15 December 1990. Southdown Press.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

D-Day for regional SA

southerncrossgtsbkn The second stage of the national phase-out of analogue television takes place today (Wednesday) at 9.00am (CDT) when analogue transmissions are switched off in regional South Australia – affecting local broadcasts for ABC, SBS, WIN and WIN Ten (Mount Gambier and Riverland) and Southern Cross GTS/BKN and Southern Cross Ten (Spencer Gulf and Broken Hill).

The analogue switch-off for regional South Australia comes almost six months after the analogue signals in Mildura/Sunraysia were turned off.

The most recent Digital Tracker survey, covering the months July to September this year, found that 81 per cent of households in the affected areas have made the switch to digital television.  If the Mildura experience is anything to go by then that number could be as high as 99 per cent by the time the analogue signals are turned off. 

win_2008 Both Southern Cross and WIN will gain additional broadcast spectrum after the analogue switch-off to allow them to broadcast the commercial network multi-channels.  Currently both broadcasters have capacity only for broadcasting the primary channels affiliated to the Seven, Nine and Ten networks.

Viewers that had access to the analogue signals but are unable to receive the replacement digital signals will have access to the VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television) satellite platform, providing access to the full suite of digital channels plus a local news channel.  Households wishing to access VAST may be eligible for government subsidies to assist with the changeover.

More information can be found at Digital Ready and myVAST.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Obituary: James Dibble

jamesdibble James Dibble, one of Australia’s first television newsreaders, has died from cancer at the age of 87.

A former radio announcer, Dibble made history when he presented ABC’s first television news bulletin on the opening night of ABN2, Sydney, on 5 November 1956.

As ABC’s principal newsreader in Sydney, he also read the broadcaster’s first news bulletin after the official changeover to colour transmission in March 1975:

After 27 years Dibble presented his last bulletin in June 1983, witnessed by a studio audience of around 80, and was honoured with a civic reception on his retirement.

Dibble later spent 18 months as federal president of the ABC Staff Association.

ABC managing director Mark Scott described Dibble as "a gentleman, a fine newsreader, much loved across Australia":

"He was the figure of trust that we all turned to at 7 o'clock every night, bringing the great events of the world and the great events of Australia."

Richard Morecroft, who succeeded Dibble as ABC newsreader in Sydney in 1983, paid tribute to his predecessor:

"I was a little surprised at how modest a man he was for somebody who had such an extraordinary reputation."

Source: ABC, ABC
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