THE HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION
Following is a series of articles written by Kevin Sadlier that appeared in TV WEEK, 18 October 1980, to announce the arrival of Channel 0/28 (now SBS) in Sydney and Melbourne.
ETHNIC TV ARRIVES DOWN UNDER
A fifth television channel will begin transmission on Channel 0 in Sydney and Melbourne next Friday, October 24 - United Nations Day.
And Bruce Gyngell, whose face was the first to appear on television in Australia on September 16, 1956, will be seen on the new Channel 0 network.
The new network is being funded by the Commonwealth Government and aims to provide multi-cultural television.
Mr Gyngell, managing director designate of the Independent and Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation, which will run Channel 0, describes it as "mainstream television" with appeal to all Australians - not just the ethnic communities.
The new television service has been subject of a great deal of controversy with both Labor and Liberal politicians saying it should be cancelled and ABC demanding that it should be running the fifth Sydney-Melbourne channel and not an independent body.
In hitting back at his critics, Mr Gyngell told TV WEEK "To say that the current television services from the ABC and the commercial stations provides all that is necessary is to ignore an entire range of creative input that at least 34 per cent of the population would enjoy."
And he described the ABC's attempt to get control of the fifth channel as "a deathbed repentance".
"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'.
Mr Gyngell also defended his own decision to introduce the new channel in a special opening program at 6.30pm on Friday 24 October.
"There was a great deal of difficulty in deciding who was going to be first," he said.
"We faced being accused of making a political decision if we had chosen one of the multifarious range of communities to be first.
"I think if I go on first, all I can be accused of being is an egotist, rather than a racist."
All programs that are not in English will have English subtitles.
"This is an opportunity to broaden the general perceptions of the Australian population" Mr Gyngell said.
STATIONS SHOW INTEREST IN 0 PROGRAMS
Multicultural programs seen on the new Channel 0 Network in Sydney and Melbourne are expected to be seen on commercial channels across Australia.
The head of multicultural television, Mr Bruce Gyngell, has told TV WEEK that all the programs he has bought for the new service are available for sale.
"We have already had a wide range of inquiries from channels across Australia," Mr Gyngell said.
"They have expressed a great deal of interest in obtaining some of our programs.
"Only yesterday I received a letter from TVW7 in Perth, asking about obtaining programs from us for screening in Perth and Adelaide."
Mr Gyngell said stations in the other capital cities and in the provincial areas were especially interested in the exclusive world soccer coverage that Channel 0 has obtained.
He added that the programs made in Australia for Channel 0 will also be available for sale to TV markets outside of Sydney and Melbourne.
These include a documentary made by Peter Luck (whose This Fabulous Century was a ratings winner for the Seven Network last year) and the variety talent quest series Cabaret.
Luck's documentary Who Are We, will be seen at 7pm on the opening night of transmission for the new channel next Friday.
The Cabaret series, now in pre-production, will begin on November 16.
Mr Gyngell said he hoped that multicultural television would eventually spread across Australia.
When? "Well, that's a political decision," he said.
"I would imagine the Government will wait and see reaction to the initial service in Sydney and Melbourne.
"If we are to take the original introduction of television as any guide, we started in Sydney and Melbourne late in 1957 but it was not until 1959 before it extended to Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart.
"That could be the time frame for the extension of the multicultural service. Then again there could be lobbying and political pressure to extend it at an early stage."
"KENNEDY MOVE RIGHT"
Channel 0 has defended a top management decision to use Graham Kennedy for its promotional campaign.
Kennedy is reported to have been paid $50,000 to sign with Channel 0 and compere a multicultural variety series called Cabaret.
"Kennedy is, quite simply, the most outstanding television talent in this country," a Channel 0 spokesman said.
"We were delighted when Kennedy agreed to endorse our channel."
"With Kennedy's help we aim to position ourselves in the market as one of the five choices available to viewers in Sydney and Melbourne.
"We want to be seen as mainstream television."
SERVICE ALSO ON 28
The new multicultural TV service is also broadcasting on Channel 28 on the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) band in Melbourne and Sydney.
In Sydney, thousands of viewers who get inadequate TV reception will get a bonus through the new service.
The three commercial channels will join with the new Channel 0 on the UHF band to provide a strong, fade-free signal for viewers living in areas such as Kirribilli.
A technician will need to tune most sets to the UHF band.
In Melbourne, commercial networks say it will be at least nine months before they begin UHF transmissions.
CHANTAL IN GREEK COMEDY
Top Australian actress Chantal Contouri guest stars in a hilarious Greek comedy The Three Sea Wolves on Friday 9pm.
Chantal plays a temperamental Italian actress who meets a young man aspiring to become a movie star.
Written in Greece, The Three Sea Wolves was adapted to contemporary Melbourne by producers Jill Robb and Eric Fullilove.
The film has a clever interplay of Greek, English and Italian dialogue and is to be shown in Greece on YENED, one of the two television networks.
International film and television Takis Emmanuel will host the introductory segments of the film.
Takis recently starred in the Australian-made movie Kostas and also appeared in Caddie and The Promised Woman.