Pay TV History

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This thread can be used to talk and discus about the history of Australia’s Pay TV Past, things like Austar (now part of foxtel), Galaxy, Northgate Communications (now part of Neighbourhood Cable), Neighbourhood Cable (now part of TransACT), TransACT (now part of iiNET), and SelecTV (was part of WIN Corp).

I think we should also include the old foxtel before 2015.

What information can still be found about it, also was it’s channel listing any different from foxtel back in the day.

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just saying that i haven’t found that much info on Austar (I’ve looked at the wiki already)

also i’m making a channel listing from 2011 to see what has changed

Austar was for regional subscription areas.

i’m aware, but what foxtel channels couldn’t be received?

Ad in the Victor Harbor Times, 14 August 1997.

Source: NLA Trove

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Not sure if they’ll be of any use, but here’s what channels were on the platform in 2000 and 2004 - took these photos at a place I was staying in a few years ago which still had this old documentation:


If anyone knows what the Wireless Cable system was all about, how long it lasted and why there were fewer channels compared to the standard Austar satellite/cable lineup I’d be very interested to know!

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I’d like to know more, found this online.

Wireless cable is a name given to a service that is called
Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (or MMDS). It is a
type of cable television system that offers its subscribers a mix
of satellite channels by transmitting the programming over MMDS
frequencies along with MDS, OFS, and ITFS frequencies, if they are
available. Wireless cable uses Super High Frequency (“SHF”)
channels to transmit satellite cable programming over-the-air
instead of through overhead or underground wires.

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My memory is that is what the Galaxy operation used in suburban Sydney. There were a few houses that had a microwave dish on the roof for Galaxy.

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Here is an interesting in house documentary about Austar

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I don’t remember Galaxy TV being in Metro areas, but yes all above is correct, Galaxy TV was microwave distribution (point to multi-point) & was available regionally.
I think Galaxy TV pre-dated Austar regionally, not sure if it started about the same time as Foxtel or even pre-dated it?

IIRC Foxtel eventually bought out Galaxy TV & took over the microwave distribution network, as time went on they started transferring customers over to Foxtel Satellite & shut down the microwave network, but then Foxtel bought out Austar too & it all became Foxtel Satellite.

I don’t know about elsewhere, but in the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie area it was Galaxy TV, then Foxtel started in the area as Galaxy was dying, the local council area border with Maitland/Cessnock was the demarkation line where Maitland & everywhere further “country” had Austar.
If you lived on the Newcastle city council side of that line you had Galaxy/Foxtel, if you lived on the Maitland/Cessnock side of that line you had Austar, & it stayed that way until Foxtel took over Austar. Didn’t matter how much you wanted Austar or Foxtel, if you were on the wrong side of the line you couldn’t get it, & at that time I think Austar had a bigger offering of channels than Foxtel did on the Satellite platform, so the country folk got better payTV than the city dwellers, of course Foxtel Cable in metro areas had more channels than Foxtel Satellite customers.

There were less channels on the Galaxy Microwave platform over the Austar Satellite platform, because the microwave system was bandwidth limited & more channels just couldn’t be fitted.

The Galaxy TV microwave transmitter/distribution point for the Newcastle region was on Mt Sugarloaf, & because it’s microwave, you had to have direct line of sight to Mt Sugarloaf, un-impeded by anything, trees, hills, building, etc. otherwise you couldn’t get it as it wouldn’t work.
I don’t know how long ago now we’d be talking that Galaxy TV was around, but you still see the odd house around the Newcastle suburbs that still have the Galaxy TV microwave antenna on the roof.

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It’s 22 years this month since Galaxy collapsed and you can still see a few of those rectangular, metal microwave antennas on some houses around Sydney’s northern beaches and north shore. Even more around the Illawarra.

Galaxy was the first pay tv provider to launch in Sydney (January 1, 1995) beating OptusVision and Foxtel by nine months so a lot of early adapters who couldn’t wait for cable or satellite to arrive had it. I was living in a unit block in Cammeray at the time and there were some residents who looked into it but we didn’t have direct line of sight from Sydney Centrepoint Tower. Body Corp probably wouldn’t have allowed it anyway. Neighbouring suburbs like Cremorne, Neutral Bay and Crows Nest could get it but if you weren’t living on a hill you had no chance.

I remember the older residents in my street watching the black sausage being strung up in 1995 in preparation for cable and being appalled it was destroying the amenity of the area.

Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.33.01 AM
Source: SMH. 12 December 1994.

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A double page ad in the SMH listing the Sydney suburbs where Galaxy was available:

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I’d forgotten how ugly those Galaxy remotes were.

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As mentioned by @NewsWeary it had a soft launch on 1 January 1995 in Sydney (and Melbourne) with one channel, Premier Sports Network. From memory, the Melbourne service was transmitted from the top of 101 Collins Street and households had to have line-of-sight to that building to get reception. Obviously problematic for many suburbs.

More channels followed in subsequent months, and Galaxy also expanded to Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra

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Interesting so basically just a transmitter to aerials and was encrypted? Does anywhere still use this technology?

I would like to think that news services still use this in there point to point systems.

Useful episode of Four Corners from 1996:

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Foxtel’s channels circa 1996 (from an archived version of their site):

1- Nickelodeon
3- Showtime
4- Encore
5- UK.TV
6- Discovery Channel
8- FOX/FOX Kids
11- Fox Sports
12- Sky News Australia
13- RED
14- Arena
15- TV1
16- BBC World
17- TNT
18- CNN International
19- CMT
20- Cartoon Network
21- World Movies
22- Asia Business News
24- Bloomberg Information TV
25- Foxtel Weather
26- thecomedychannel
27- Hallmark
28- fX/fXM
29- FOX Soap/FOX Talk/FOX Travel/FOX History
30- TVSN

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Optus Vision channels circa 1996:

1- Disney Channel
6- CNN International
11- ESPN
12- Sports Australia
13- Sports AFL
14- TNT
15- Cartoon Network
16- Sky News Australia
22- CMT
23- ARC Music TV/WeatherVision
24- Horizon
25- TVSN
29- CNBC
?- Movie Network
?- Movie Greats
?- LocalVision

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