History - Proposal for 4th Commercial TV Network

I remember reading on here a while ago, that there were proposals throughout the 70s/80s and 90s in regards to Australia launching a 4th commercial tv license in the metro markets. Obviously this never eventuated.

Does anyone have any additional information or news items they can share?

I think Murdoch pursued this for a while, which explains why one of the Foxtel channels was called Fox8 too. He settled for buying into Ten instead.

News Ltd was lobbying the Howard government to consider a fourth commercial TV network in 1998. They proposed to introduce it following the start of digital TV.

In 1999 News Ltd expressed interest in establishing a data casting channel that would allow them to deliver news and weather in text and video format. The established networks viewed this as a way Murdoch could eventually establish a fourth network and lobbied against it.

In 1995 Prime Minister Paul Keating proposed a fourth network should be a family channel “that doesn’t affront everybody’s sensibilities with murders, rapes, killings, road smashes”. At the time he was attempting to thwart Kerry Packer’s ambitions to acquire more media control and the idea was floated by Keating as a threat to stop him during an interview with Laurie Oakes on Nine’s Sunday.


I think Mark Latham also proposed the idea of a 4th commercial network.

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It is amazing just how incorrect the 90s vision of datacasting would be. Amusingly, the networks being against it being for pay television services over the air, resulted in it being free to then be sold off for billions, and make 4G viable for people to stream what has become the biggest competitor to traditional networks.


In 1986, Wesgo Communications – owner of radio stations 2WS, 2GO, 2KO, 4KQ and others – had a long term plan to potentially gain access to opening a 4th commercial channel in Sydney with possible link to a national network.

This article from B&T, 29 August 1986:


Always found it funny that these proposals lingered around for as long as they did, FTA Commercial TV in this country in the scheme of things hasn’t spent much time in history as a universally profitable enterprise.

It’s clear that the current landscape just wouldn’t be sustainable for another network.

If it did eventuate earlier on, what channel number would we be referring too?

Probably 31 or 34 given 3-channel spacing that was required in analogue days and to sit near SBS and the VHF band was at capacity

In the early 90s it was even broadly speculated that the 7 and 10 licences should merge to bring us down to 2 commercial networks


So could have been looking at Channel 3 on the old TV dial?

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No, UHF channel numbers. SBS was Channel 28. The next spot available was 31 (later assigned to community TV) and then 34

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