Regional TV History (pre-aggregation)

Not sure if we have a thread devoted purely to discuss the regionals pre-aggregation.

I was inspired by seeing this article from TV Times in July 1979 (when scanning today’s TV listing) about NBN3 in Newcastle.

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Fantastic thread idea! CBN 8 in Orange has a great history and some wonderful gems exist on the Internet, I’ll have to dig around and find some stuff :slight_smile:

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NRN11/RTN8 ID from possibly the late 1970s or early 1980s. From my YouTube channel (originally from a now long deleted channel)

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Pictured here is the old 2GZ (Now Triple M) Studios on Sale Street, Orange NSW. The station eventually moved to its new location during the late 70’s - early 80’s, occupying a space at the Midstate/Prime Television Studios on Bathurst Road. The now Triple M Central West is broadcast from the Southern Cross Austereo Offices in one of Orange’s Industrial Estate.

It is believed, and has been widely reported on a local Facebook History Site that during the early 1980’s, the ABC had acquired the Sale Street Studio (see below) when plans for regional News broadcasts were drafted, obviously as we know - had never happened. However, ABC did have a presence at the site, with ABC Radio having been broadcast from there for a number of years.

However, further research indicates that limited information is available in regards to ABC’s planned Television push into regional Australia - which has resulted in me doubting that any plans had actually existed?

It is definitely interesting if true, perhaps other members may recall of such plans?

I’d estimate that was 1975.

CTC-7 Canberra during their late 70’s “Super 7” days.

15_am

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Sales brochure from Vision TV, 1988:

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Inaccurate map there. It has the SDQ4 transmitter east of Stanthorpe over the border in New South Wales when it’s actually just west of the town, in Queensland.

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Promotional flyer (and keyring) for GMV6’s 25th anniversary in December 1986

EDIT: Margaret Goldsworthy, mentioned as GMV6 station manager in 1986, was later appointed Sales Manager for Southern Cross Network’s office in Shepparton when it opened in late 1991.

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A RARE video of the history of History of CBN8/Midstate/Prime TV in the Central West. Dates back from 1961 to today

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Nice collection of logos at the start there.

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Oh the bad old days/dark ages :frowning:
Aggregation was a great change for viewers.

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Debatable considering the loss of localism to many communities. Would’ve been a better outcome had the government allowed broadcasters to operate two channels per licence area.

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Local news should have remained a legislated (and enforced) requirement, but just two channels wouldn’t have provided people in rural and regional areas with the same choice of programming as people in a major capital city.

Aggregation was a great idea, but nothing’s perfect and it could have done with some tweaking (of course with hindsight it’s easier to see the issues now than in the '80s).

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The regional operators in the 80s predicted exactly what would happen: an erosion of local programming and jobs and the regional stations becoming relays of the big networks. They warned the government but aggregation still went ahead

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I never saw being relays of the major networks as a problem.
Eliminating local news however… that shouldn’t have been allowed.

The local stations also saw that competition would reduce the revenue for an ad on their existing channel, which previously could get a great price (being a monopoly), of course they get to sell ads to other areas, but the dilution and competition drove prices down overall (not that any of that matters now, with Facebook, Google, etc. taking such a large chunk of ad revenue).

also, larger regional operators like QTV might have gone from 100% commercial market share in North Queensland to say 40% market share, but the gains that they made in other (smaller) markets would not have been enough to completely off-set the losses in North Queensland.

There were reports at the time that regional operators were massively marking down the price of airtime just to fill slots in their new markets. Some ad spots were apparently going for as low as $10 just to fill the airtime to what were much smaller audiences, while they would have relinquished far more than that in their traditional markets where they still enjoyed some level of viewer loyalty.

The huge cost in infrastructure was also a big killer. For an aggregated market to cover a million people, each operator might have needed something like 70 transmitters. Compared to a Sydney or Melbourne channel which could cover 3 or 4 million people with one. The government did at least offer some financial incentives to regional networks to assist with the cost of expansion, like they also did with digital television.

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Back in 1989, the government deemed Griffith and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area too small a market for aggregation. Prime then abandoned MTN-9 Griffith who would be picked up by WIN Television.

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We’ll never know for sure exactly what would’ve happened to television in regional Australia if the alternative secondary channel proposal went ahead, but I think we still would’ve eventually seen corporate consolidation and a reduction in local programming over time. For instance, look at the solus markets WIN and SCA operate in - essentially relays of the capital city stations everywhere except the GTS/BKN viewing area which somehow still has a local news service!

Perhaps an approach similar to the one taken in Tasmania (where both Southern Cross & WIN seemed to do OK prior to the launch of TDT) would’ve been better one for aggregation in the major East Coast markets: Two competing commercial stations covering smaller adjacent markets, with possibly a third Digital-only joint venture station launching later down the track.

While I wouldn’t disagree that the huge infrastructure costs were/are a major killer for regional TV, didn’t the metropolitan stations also need to launch translators (including additional ones for Digital TV) to adequately cover their viewing areas?

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they did but still it was (still is) a huge imbalance between metro v regional operators.

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