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History of broadcasting in Australia

The history of broadcasting in Australia has been shaped for over a century by the problem of communication across long distances, coupled with a strong base in a wealthy society with a deep taste for aural communications in a silent landscape.[1] Australia developed its own system, through its own engineers, manufacturers, retailers, newspapers, entertainment services, and news agencies. The government set up the first radio system, and business interests marginalized the hobbyists and amateurs. The Labor Party was especially interested in radio because it allowed them to bypass the newspapers, which were mostly controlled by the opposition. Both parties agreed on the need for a national system, and in 1932 set up the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as a government agency that was largely separate from political interference.

The first commercial broadcasters, originally known as "B" class stations were on the air as early as 1925. Many were sponsored by newspapers in Australia,[2] by theatrical interests, by amateur radio enthusiasts and radio retailers, and by retailers generally.[3] Almost all Australians were within reach of a station by 1930s, and the number of stations remained relatively stable through the post-war era. However, in the 1970s, the Labor government under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam commenced a broadcasting renaissance so that by the 1990s there were 50 different radio services available for groups based on tastes, languages, religion, or geography.[4] The broadcasting system was largely deregulated in 1992, except that there were limits on foreign ownership and on monopolistic control. By 2000, 99 percent of Australians owned at least one television set, and averaged 20 hours a week watching it.[5]


Regulatory ChronologyEdit


Pre FederationEdit

Prior to Australian federation, the regulatory framework was vested in the individual colonies and province. Wireless was closely aligned with the important postal and telegraphy functions and each state had its own post and telegraph department, which were merged into the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG) upon federation.

Early wireless experimentsEdit

The progressive developments in wireless theory and experimentation by Maxwell, Hertz, Marconi and others were not only described in the professional journals, but captured the public imagination to such an extent that each new success was widely reported in the worldwide press. Australia was no exception when it came to this public fascination. The equipment necessary to duplicate the smaller scale experiments was not difficult to manufacture and similar experiments were soon being undertaken in Australian laboratories and then public demonstrations in all Australian states. The experimenters can be categorised into PMG, Military, Academic and Private Experimenters.

  • Post and Telegraph Departments In each Australian colony, the respective Post and Telegraph Departments were actively engaging in Wireless Telegraphy experiments. The driver was not purely scientific, submarine cables were an expensive technology (both capital and maintenance) to give effect to communication to near-coast islands and across the Bass Strait. Australia's vast open spaces had already proven expensive projects for deployments of telegraph lines. Wireless Telegraphy offered the prospect of very substantial cost savings.
  • Military Military applications for wireless technology were clear and present. Ships of war were isolated from communication upon departure from ports immediately visual contact was lost. A mobile army force could not rely upon existing land lines and considerable effort was required to temporarily deploy additional lines, which in any event were exposed to enemy attention.
  • Academia Australia's leading academic institutions were all following the international developments and had the advantage of bringing together our leading theoreticians and leading technologists.
  • Private Experimenters Prior to Federation, it is not clear whether formal licensing of private experimenters was required by individual colonies, or if it was whether it was pursued. No individual licences have been reported, while experiments by the PMG and Military would be exempt from licensing, and those by academia usually in co-ordination with the PMG. As always Australian amateur experimenters followed close in their wake, often overlooking the formal need for licensing by the authorities.
New South WalesEdit

The announcement by Hertz in 1888 of his successful experiments in the existence of free electromagnetic waves created a sensation throughout the scientific world. The Hertz' experiments were repeated in the Physics laboratory at the Sydney the same year.

On 10 August 1899, the Postmaster-General, one or two officers of the Department and representatives of the press, were invited to a demonstration of wireless under the supervision of P. B. Walker, Engineer-in-Chief of Telegraphs. The transmitting and receiving aerial wires were suspended on the corners of the roof of the Post Office building with the equipment itself in the laboratory below. The demonstration was entirely a success, though interference was present from adjacent tram lines. Walker stated that he felt there was presently limited commercial application, but nevertheless advised that further experiments would be conducted, with sea trials still to be decided upon.[6] The transmitting was undertaken by Walker and the receiving by Watkin Wynne. All the equipment was manufactured by staff of the Government electrician, principally Mr. Nelson. A 12 inch induction coil was used for transmission and a two inch coherer for reception. An amount of 150 pounds was stated to have been reserved for purchase of equipment from the Marconi Telegraph Company, with further experiments to proceed upon receipt.[7] However Walker fell ill towards the end of 1899, passed August 1900 and with his passing wireless telegraphy seems to have fallen dormant for many years. [8]

South Australia and the Northern TerritoryEdit

As early as 1895 Professor William H. (later Sir William) Bragg was working on wireless telegraphy, though public lectures and demonstrations focussed on his X-ray research which would later lead to his Nobel Prize. In a hurried visit by Rutherford, he was reported as working on a Hertzian oscillator. There were many common practical threads to the two technologies and he was ably assisted in the laboratory by Arthur Lionel Rogers who manufactured much of the equipment. On 21 September 1897 Bragg gave the first recorded public demonstration of the working of wireless telegraphy in Australia during a lecture meeting at the University of Adelaide as part of the Public Teachers' Union conference.[9][10] Bragg departed Adelaide in December 1897,[11] and spent all of 1898 on a 12 month leave of absence, touring Great Britain and Europe and during this time visited Marconi and inspected his wireless facilities.[12][13] He returned to Adelaide in early March of 1899,[14] and already on 13 May 1899 Bragg and his father-in-law Sir Charles Todd were conducting preliminary tests of wireless telegraphy with a transmitter at the Observatory and a receiver on the South Road (about 200 metres).[15] Experiments continued throughout the southern winter of 1899 and the range was progressively extended to Henley Beach. In September the work was extended to two way transmissions with the addition of a second induction coil loaned by Mr. Oddie of Ballarat.[16] It was desired to extend the experiments cross a sea path and Todd was interested in connecting Cape Spencer and Althorpe Island, but local costs were considered prohibitive while the charges for patented equipment from the Marconi Company were exorbitant. At the same time Bragg's interests were leaning towards X-rays and practical work in wireless in South Australia was largely dormant for the next decade.


Mr. G. W. Selby, of Queens-street, Melbourne, who takes much interest in electricity, recently wrote to the Victorian Defence Department asking to be allowed to carry out certain experiments in wireless telegraphy between H.M.V.S. Cerberus, which was moored in Hobson's Bay, and the naval depot, Williamstown, in order to ascertain its application to naval purposes. Permission was granted, and Lieutenant Richardson, who has charge of the torpedo-boats, was directed to render Mr. Selby any assistance he could. The trial (says the "Argus") was made on Saturday, when signalling between the warship and the shore was effected by an apparatus made by Mr. Selby in 1897, and exhibited by him before the Royal Society in that year. He is confident that his instrument will work over distances obtained by other experimenters if opportunities are afforded him to put it to the test. The department will grant him any further facilities he may require.[17]


Dr Clendinnen

In late 1896, Henry Walter Jenvey, in explaining "Telegraphy without Wires" to the press, refers only to the leakage and inductive methods. [18] But soon afterwards, he himself was actively engaged in the electromagnetic method. In 1899 his lectures had been extended to include Marconi's system [19] By 1900 he was reporting that an experimental network of wireless stations had been established at the Observatory, Wilson Hall at the University and the General Post Office [20] The Australasian reported "A lecture on wireless telegraphy will be given on January 13 by the Government astronomer, Mr. P. Baracchi, in conjunction with Mr. Jenvey, electrician of the Victorian Telegraph department. During this demonstration a message will be transmitted between the Observatory and the Wilson Hall, at the University, where the lecture will be delivered.[21]




At the monthly meeting of the Royal Society of Tasmania on the evening of 11 July 1898 in the Art Gallery, Argyle-street, Hobart, Thomas Edward Self read a paper on "Telegraphy without wires," and "made some interesting experiments in the presence of the audience. There were two transmitters, one before the lecturer and the other entirely outside the room. It was shown by the continual ringing of a bell in the apparatus in front of the lecturer that there was continual connection between the two, though the connection was invisible." [22]

At a lecture at the Technical School on the evening of 8 August 1898, Thomas Self (instructor at the school) again presented his work on electricity and demonstrated the topic with particular reference to "telegraphy without wires."[23] In a newspaper report of 2 July 1901; "The first quickening throb of excitement over the Royal visit pulsated early on Tuesday morning, when a couple of guns, fired from the Queen's Battery, conveyed the lively information that the Ophir had been sighted at 7.30 a.m. in Storm Bay, attended by the St. George and the Juno. When the three vessels were coming up the river, a communication, by means of wireless telegraphy, was successfully achieved between One Tree Point and the St. George, just as the latter rounded a headland above Brown's River. A wireless telegraphy apparatus was fixed on an 80ft. pole near One Tree Point Lighthouse, and as the St. George steamed along about three miles off, Lieut. Trowsdale, from the ship, opened the conversation, with. "Good morning," and then followed this message to the St. George, telephoned to Mr. Hallam, the chief operator (who had prepared and affixed the apparatus), to forward: "Tasmania greets the Royal yacht Ophir and her consorts," which was at once acknowledged, and some other messages followed, whilst later in the day wireless communication was established between the St. George, lying in the harbour, and the Post Office, by means of an apparatus placed on a pole in the Post Office yard." [24]

Western AustraliaEdit



On 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies and the province of South Australia joined together to form a new nation, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia gave federal governments power to make laws with respect to specifically defined areas (section 51). In particular, paragraph 51(v) explicitly identified "postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services". While there was no stated specific power in respect of the press, it was considered that such power fell within the scope of paragraph 51(i) "trade and commerce with other countries and among the states", among others.

The generic powers under section 51(v) were rather promptly enunciated in detail in the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 delegating those powers to the newly established Postmaster-General's Department ("PMG"). This Act included two key definitions: (1) “Telegraphic” includes telephonic and (2) “Telegraph” or “telegraph line” means a wire or cable used for telegraphic or telephonic communication including any casing coating tube tunnel or pipe enclosing the same and any posts masts or piers supporting the same and any apparatus connected therewith or any apparatus for transmitting messages or other communications by means of electricity.

The Act was silent in respect of the relatively new science of wireless telegraphy, which had not yet assumed commercial proportions but likely fell within the scope of "telegraphic". As wireless telegraphy began to display not only commercial but also defence promise, any possible uncertainty of interpretation was removed by a specific act the Wireless Telegraph Act 1905, which placed these powers under PMG. The possible uncertainty had in no way limited the PMG's interest and participation in the new technology before 1905.

Fessenden's tentative initial experiments with wireless telephony would only commence in the following year, but it too clearly fell within scope of the both the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905. Nevertheless, once wireless telephony began to shine bright on the commercial and defence horizons, this technology too was deemed to warrant explicit provision and some 14 years later, the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1919 simply amended the definition of wireless telegraphy to include wireless telephony.

Early wireless telegraphyEdit

Australian radio hams can be traced to the early 1900s. The 1905 Wireless Telegraphy Act[25] while acknowledging the existence of wireless telegraphy, brought all broadcasting matters in Australia under the control of the Federal Government. In 1906, the first official Morse code transmission in Australia was conducted by the Marconi Company between Queenscliff, Victoria and Devonport, Tasmania.[26] However, it must be noted that some sources claim that there were transmissions in Australia as early as 1897 – these were either conducted solely by Professor William Henry Bragg of Adelaide University[27][28] or by Prof. Bragg in conjunction with G.W. Selby of Melbourne.[29]

Ernest Fisk (1886–1965) was the dominant figure among numerous pioneers in early wireless developments. Fisk headed Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) (AWA) during 1917–44, when it was a leader in electronics manufacturing and broadcasting.[30]

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905Edit

While it appeared clear that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia placed responsibility for wireless telegraphy with the Commonwealth rather than the individual States and Territories, to remove any possible doubt, the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905 made this explicit. The Wireless Telegraphy Act, No. 8 of 1905 may be cited as the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 and was assented to 18 October 1905. The initial Act was brief and to the point, being only a single page and even after almost 80 years of amendments, remained equally concise when finally repealed in 1983. The Act:

  • Defined Australia (in the context of the Act) to include the territorial waters of the Commonwealth and any territory of the Commonwealth;
  • Defined "Wireless telegraphy" to include all systems of transmitting and receiving telegraphic messages by means of electricity without a continuous metallic connexion between the transmitter and the receiver;
  • Was defined not to apply to ships belonging to the King’s Navy;
  • Gave the Postmaster-General the exclusive privilege of establishing, erecting, maintaining, and using stations and appliances for the purpose of:
    • transmitting messages by wireless telegraphy within Australia, and receiving messages so transmitted;
    • transmitting messages by wireless telegraphy from Australia to any place or ship outside Australia; and
    • receiving in Australia messages transmitted by wireless telegraphy from any place or ship outside Australia.
  • Provided penalty for breach of Act.
  • Provided for forfeiture of appliances unlawfully erected.
  • Search warrants for appliances unlawfully erected.
  • Gave the Postmaster-General the right to institute proceedings
  • Gave the Governor-General the right to make regulations, prescribing all matters for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

Sutton's experimentsEdit

Henry Sutton was an inventor potentially responsible for the telephone, the lightbulb, and front wheel drive automobiles. From 1906 he extended his investigations into the field of wireless telegraphy and even wireless telephony. When the Postmaster-General's Department pointed out the need for a licence for these activities, he circumvented the problem by involving the Defence Department.

The Taylor phenomenonEdit

George Augustine Taylor is remembered today mostly for his advocacy for commencement of high power wireless broadcasting in Australia during the mid-1920s through the efforts of his Association for the Development of Wireless in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. But arguably his work in the late 1900s and early 1910s was even more valuable. Within a civilian/military context he was responsible for demonstrations of the practical military applications for wireless. He then went on to demonstrate that wireless could be used in moving railway trains (and associated signalling applications) and transmission of pictures by wireless. Taylor solely driven by patriotic intent and without any commercial motivation. His inventions were claimed by others, sometimes decade or more subsequent.


Coastal network establishedEdit

From 1912, the government progressively established a wide network of low and high power coastal stations to facilitate communications with shipping throughout the Commonwealth. The earlier temporary stations were replaced and the network expanded, eventually consuming the entire series of callsigns VIA to VIZ.

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1915Edit

With the commencement of WW1, the government of the day desired to place all matters relating to wireless telegraphy under defence control while necessary. To this end the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 was amended to provide greater flexibility by replacing the delegation of powers specifically to the "Postmaster-General" to "the Minister for the time being administering the Act."

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1919Edit

Again, while it appeared clear that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia placed responsibility for wireless telephony with the Commonwealth, to remove any possible doubt, the Wireless Regulations of 1919 made explicit provision for this form of communication, recognising the increasing importance of the technology.

First taste of Wireless TelephonyEdit

Wireless regulation in Australia remained under the control of the Department of Navy after the close of World War I and licensing was very largely limited to shipping and coastal stations. Wireless telegraphy was almost universally employed for communication due to its efficiency and capacity for long distance transmission. However, there are several reports of telephony transmissions, both music and speech, from international ships visiting Australian ports in the years immediately following World War I. Similarly, enterprising individuals at the coastal stations from time to time provided brief periods of music transmissions. While the equipment was designed for wireless telegraphy, modification to permit telephony was possible. The wireless operators on these ships and coastal stations were often also keen wireless experimenters in private life. The ships were visited by the land based hams while in port and their equipment viewed in awe. The U.S.A. in particular was years ahead of Australia in use of telephony and their wireless-equipped ships offered rare glimpses of the state of the art for Australian experimenters. At first the listening audience was restricted to other ships and coastal stations, but from 1920, private experimenters were licensed (for reception only).

Initial Demonstrations of BroadcastingEdit

Much was made then (and still is) of the 13 August 1919 demonstration of wireless telephony by Ernest Fisk (later Sir Ernest) of AWA – Amalgamated Wireless. "At a lecture on wireless communication before the industrial section of the Royal Society on Wednesday night, Mr. E. T. Fisk gave a remarkable demonstration of wireless telephony with the aid of an apparatus designed and manufactured in Sydney by the Amalgamated Wireless Company. A gramophone was played into a wireless telephone transmitter at the company's works in Clarence street, and the music was received on a few wires strung along the wall in the Royal Society's lecture-room in Elizabeth Street. The music was clearly audible in all parts of the hall. The lecture was suitably closed with the audience standing while the National Anthem was played by wireless telephone."[2]</ref>

Early Concerts and Amateur BroadcastingEdit

Following the successful public demonstrations of broadcasting by the AWA and others, the AWA commenced in 1921 a regular series of concerts that were widely heard all over Australia and laid a framework for the introduction of broadcasting in Australia. The handful of wireless experimenters licensed to transmit at the time also commenced regular and intermittent transmissions of speech and music. A number of amateurs commenced broadcasting music in 1920 and 1921. These included 2CM, Sydney; 2YG, Sydney; 2XY, Newcastle; 3ME, Melbourne; 3DP, Melbourne; 4CM, Brisbane; 4AE, Brisbane; 4CH, Brisbane; 5AC, Adelaide; 5AD, Adelaide (not associated with 5AD which commenced in 1930); 5BG, Adelaide; 7AA, Hobart; 7AB, Hobart. Many other amateurs soon followed.[31] 2CM was run by Charles MacLuran who started the station in 1921 with regular Sunday evening broadcasts from the Wentworth Hotel, Sydney. 2CM is often regarded as Australia's first, regular, non-official station.[31][32]


Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 1920Edit

The Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 1920 finally made provision for Experimental Licences, though the Department of Navy remained reluctant to issue to all but a few.

Amateur BroadcastingEdit

The government was under increasing pressure from businesses and amateurs, both to introduce higher power broadcasting in Australia and to relax licensing requirements for wireless experimenters. A way forward with high power broadcasting was problematic with the interests of numerous parties, particularly AWA, to be considered. The Wireless Regulations failed to address these but enabled ready broadcasting by wireless experimenters as an interim measure. During 1922 and 1923, a large number of experimenters were licensed and commenced to provide low power broadcasting to their local area. This partly satisfied the public's appetite for broadcasting, with the newspapers of the day carrying extensive coverage of the wireless boom taking place in the U.S.A. and elesewhere. increasinglyA number of amateurs commenced broadcasting music in 1920 and 1921. These included 2CM, Sydney; 2YG, Sydney; 2XY, Newcastle; 3ME, Melbourne; 3DP, Melbourne; 4CM, Brisbane; 4AE, Brisbane; 4CH, Brisbane; 5AC, Adelaide; 5AD, Adelaide (not associated with 5AD which commenced in 1930); 5BG, Adelaide; 7AA, Hobart; 7AB, Hobart. Many other amateurs soon followed.[31]

Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 1922Edit

The Wireless Telegraph Regulations 1922 provided explicit provisions for a "Broadcasting" licence, but advertising was prohibited and there was no funding by government. While several experimenters took out such licences, costs were higher than the "Experimental" licences, and only the amateurs prepared to self fund a service with the intent of promoting the still-new science went down this path.

Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 1923Edit

The Wireless Telegraph Regulations 1923 introduced a funded broadcasting model for the first time.

The Sealed Set debacleEdit

It was not until November 1923 when the government finally gave its approval for a number of officially recognised broadcast stations. These included (with the dates they came on air):

  • 2SB, Sydney, Sydney Broadcasters Ltd, 23 November 1923[33] (known as 2BL from 1 March 1924);[31]
  • 2FC, Sydney, Farmer & Co Ltd, 8 December 1923;
  • 3AR, Melbourne, Associated Radio Co, 26 January 1924;
  • 3LO, Melbourne, Broadcasting Co of Australia (call sign reminding of 2LO), 23 October 1924;
  • 5MA, Adelaide, Millswood Auto and Radio Co., April 1924. Ceased in 1925.
  • 6WF, Perth, Westralian Farmers, 4 June 1924.

All stations were to operate under a unique Sealed Set system under Broadcasting Regulations published in August 1923, where each receiving set was "sealed" and received the frequency of only one transmitting station. Part of an annual Licence fee for the set concerned was to go to the Federal Government, via the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG), with part of the money going to the broadcaster. Apart from extremely limited advertising, this was to be any broadcaster's only source of income.

From the outset problems with the system came to the fore. Many radio enthusiasts built their own sets, which could receive any or all of the stations, and the "sealed" receivers could be easily (although illegally) "modified".[33][34]

The Sealed Set system was devised by broadcasting pioneer Ernest Fisk of AWA – Amalgamated Wireless.

Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 1924Edit

The Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 1924

Class A & B BroadcastingEdit

Radio stations in 1926[35] (  class A,   class B)

As quickly as July 1924, the Sealed Set system was declared to be unsuccessful and it was replaced by a system of A Class and B Class stations. There were one or two A Class stations in each major market and these were paid for by a listener's licence fee imposed on all listeners-in. Five of the former Sealed Set stations became A Class stations, and were soon joined by the following stations in other State capitals:

  • 5CL, Adelaide, Central Broadcasters Ltd, 20 November 1924;
  • 7ZL, Hobart, Associated Radio Co, 17 December 1924;
  • 4QG, Brisbane, Queensland Radio Service (operated by the Queensland government), 27 July 1925.[3]

As from 1929, all A Class stations received all their programs from the one source, the Australian Broadcasting Company which was made up of the following shareholders: Greater Union Theatres (a movie theatre chain), Fuller's Theatres (a live theatre chain) and J. Albert & Sons (music publishers and retailers).

Emil Voigt, founder of 2KY on behalf of the Labor Council of New South Wales This photo was taken in earlier days when Voigt was a prominent British athlete.

A number of B Class stations were also licensed. These did not receive any government monies and were expected to derive their income from advertising, sponsorship, or other sources. Within a few years B Class stations were being referred to as "commercial stations". The following were the first to be licensed:

  • 2BE, Sydney, Burgin Electric Company Ltd, 7 November 1924 (closed 6 November 1929);
  • 3WR, Wangaratta, Wangaratta Sports Depot, 1 December 1924 (closed 22 December 1925 but later re-opened);
  • 2EU, Sydney, Electrical Utilities Supply Co, 26 January 1925, still on the air – name changed to 2UE within months of opening;[31]
  • 2HD, Newcastle, H. A. Douglas, 27 January 1925, still on the air;
  • 2UW, Sydney, Otto Sandel, 13 February 1925, still on the air;
  • 5DN, Adelaide, 5DN Pty Ltd, 24 February 1925, still on the air;
  • 3UZ, Melbourne, J. Oliver Nilsen & Co, 8 March 1925, still on the air;
  • 4GR, Toowoomba, Gold Radio Electric Services, 9 August 1925, still on the air;
  • 2KY, Sydney, Trades and Labour Council, 31 October 1925, still on the air;
  • 2MK, Bathurst, Mockler Bros, 11 November 1925 (closed November 1931);
  • 2GB, Sydney, Theosophical Broadcasting Service, 23 August 1926, still on the air.[3]

Amateur broadcasters continued to operate in the long-wave and short-wave bands. In Melbourne, for some years, they were also permitted to broadcast on the medium-wave band on Sundays between 12:30 and 2:30 pm, during which time all commercial stations were required to close down.

ABC mobile studio caravan, used for concerts presented by the ABC at army camps and other locations, 1940

A national service, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, was formed in July 1932, when the Australian Broadcasting Company's contract expired. The Corporation took over the assets of all A Class stations. It still exists as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The Australian Broadcasting Co changed its name to the Commonwealth Broadcasting Company and later the Australian Radio Network. It soon purchased Sydney commercial station 2UW and now has an Australia-wide network of commercial stations.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the PMG planned to institute C Class stations which would have had their advertising limited to the station owner(s) only. When the plan was abandoned in 1931, the PMG was about to issue such a licence to the Akron Tyre Co in Melbourne; in lieu of a C Class licence, Akron was given a licence for a B Class station but with a number of limiting conditions on its licence (see 3AK for details).[36]

Mobile stationsEdit

Two of Australia's most unusual medium wave stations were mobile stations 2XT and 3YB. They both operated in eras prior to the universal establishment of rural radio stations. 2XT was designed and operated by AWA within the State of New South Wales, from a NSW Railways train, between November 1925 and December 1927. 2XT, which stood for experimental train, visited over 100 rural centres. Engineers would set up a transmitting aerial and the station would then begin broadcasting. This led to the further sales of AWA products.

3YB provided a similar service in rural Victoria between October 1931 and November 1935. Initially, the station operated from a Ford car and a Ford truck, but from 17 October 1932 they operated from a converted 1899 former Royal Train carriage. While the engineers were setting up the station's 50-watt transmitter in the town being visited, salesmen would sign up advertisers for the fortnight that 3YB would broadcast from that region. The station was on the air from 6:00 to 10:00 pm daily, and its 1,000-record library was divided into set four-hour programs, one for each of 14 days. In other words, the music broadcast from each town was identical. The station was operated by Vic Dinenny, but named after announcer Jack Young from Ballarat. On 18 January 1936, Dinenny set up 3YB Warnambool, followed on 18 May 1937 by 3UL Warragul.[27][37]

The passenger ship MV Kanimbla was the world's only ship designed with an inbuilt broadcasting station. Its callsign was 9MI. The broadcasting station operated for several months in 1939; it was run by Eileen Foley for AWA. 9MI's first official broadcast in April 1939 was made from the Great Australian Bight.[27] The station broadcast on short wave, usually a couple of times per week, but many of its programs were relayed to commercial medium-wave stations that were also owned by AWA. Its broadcasting career ended when the war began in September 1939.[38] [39]

1926 AM RestackEdit

In 1926 the broadcast planners of the PMGD co-ordinated a restack of the AM services with a view to increasing frequency separations between all services to enable better night-time reception.

Shortwave BroadcastingEdit

In the late 1920s, several Class A and Class B stations commenced shortwave broadcasting, simulcasting their AM programmes using experimental transmitters. Stations included 2FC, 2BL, 3AR, 3LO, 3UZ and 6WF. At the same time the PMG's Department established it experimental shortwave service VK3LR, while AWA commenced experimental transmissions using existing transmission sites (2ME, 3ME and 6ME).

Royal Commission 1927Edit

Royal Commission 1927


National & Commercial BroadcastingEdit

The National Broadcasting Service commenced in 1929. As each of the licences of the mostly struggling A Class broadcasting services expired, they were not renewed. The Commonwealth of Australia acquired, by lease or purchase the transmission and studio facilities from each former licensee. These facilities were than operated by the Postmaster-General's Department. The government had contracted the Australian Broadcasting Company (a private entity, unrelated to the later Australian Broadcasting Commission) to supply the programming for these services. This contract expired in 1932 and was not renewed. While the regulatory framework for the B Class stations changed little during this period. The stations had never been happy with the label B Class and from this time are increasingly referred to as commercial services.

1930s National expansionEdit

With the commencement of the National Broadcasting Service in 1929, the PMG's Department was initially focussed on effecting necessary maintenance to the network of transmitters and studios which they inherited from the former Class A licensees. It had been clear for some years that these licences would not be renewed by the government and level of financial compensation was not clear. As a consequence, perhaps with the exception of 4QG (operated by the Queensland state government), the facilities saw only a bare minimum of maintenance. While funding for future expansion of the transmission facilities of the NBS was limited (both for replacement of the former Class A facilities and establishment of additional NBS services), there was an expectation that this would change and preliminary work to identify new sites and appropriate antenna systems and transmission equipment commenced immediately.

1930s Commercial expansionEdit

Following a policy hiatus of some 4 years, the PMG's Department broadcast planners set out from 1930 to quench the demand for new services wherever frequencies were available. The timing was perfect as Australia began to emerge from the Great Depression and businesses with capital reserves and foresight or simply an enthusiasm for wireless broadcasting, presented their applications for a licence and declared their capabilities. The number of new services bought to air laid the framework of Australian broadcasting for the next 50 years. Not until the implementation of the various FM radio schemes in the 1990s and 2000s would Australia see as many new services. In terms of proportionate growth, it was unequalled.

1935 AM restackEdit

Prior to September 1935 a raster of channel allocations based upon multiples of 5 kHz progressively developed, but with the complex lattice of allocations implemented, the effective raster was 15 kHz. With the massive expansion of national and commercial services planned for the 1930s, the old raster would not have permitted satisfactory co-existence of the desired services. In the years prior to 1935, the regulator developed a plan based upon 10 kHz channel spacing, essentially identical to that which had been in use in North and South America (ITU Region 2).

Australia CallingEdit

The PMG commenced a permanent international shortwave service "Australia Calling" using the former experimental transmitting system of VK3LR in the late 1930s. The facility was expanded and eventually was renamed "Radio Australia".

Cessation of Amateur BroadcastingEdit

Ever since the commencement of the Wireless Regulations 1922, amateur services (then termed "experimental") had the right to broadcast music and speech. The commencement of high power Class A and Class B broadcasters in the mid-1920s saw a change in focus for listeners, but even in metropolitan areas there were only three or four high power services and amateur broadcasting provided greater, if mostly less professional, variety of programming. In the hiatus of broadcasting development of the late 1920s, amateur broadcasting in regional areas was often the sole source of programming. Such broadcasting was increasingly curtailed on medium wave from the 1930s and by 1939 was largely confined to shortwave, it continued to provide a variety of programming choice, especially in regional areas. With the commencement of WW2, all amateur transmission rights were withdrawn. Upon cessation of hostilities in 1946, amateur licensing was reinstated, but not the right to broadcast music and entertainment.


Radio AustraliaEdit

The PMG commenced a permanent international shortwave service "Australia Calling" using the former experimental transmitting system of VK3LR in the late 1930s. The facility was expanded and eventually was renamed "Radio Australia".

National Security Closures - Commercial RadioEdit

In 1941 a number of commercial radio services were closed for alleged national security reasons.

Broadcasting and Television Act 1942Edit

The Broadcasting and Television Act was enacted in 1942.

1948 AM restackEdit

By 1948, AM transmitter powers in Australia and New Zealand had risen to a level where significant night-time skywave interference was being experienced. Meetings were held between the respective administrations and plans were developed to minimise interference by a partial restack of services in both countries. This was achieved though use of some clear channels for high power services and appropriate operating powers for close-spaced co-channel services. The restack was promptly effected and achieved its limited objective. In subsequent decades, use of directional antennas by Australia greatly minimised co-channel interference to New Zealand services.

FM Broadcasting TestsEdit

In 1948, the government authorised test transmissions of FM broadcasting within the international FM radio band. These transmissions continued until the 1960s when the stations were all closed in preparation for the allocation of this band for TV broadcasting.

1948 ABCBEdit

The Australian Broadcasting Control Board was created in 1948 and for the first time portion of the planning of Australian broadcasting services was undertaken outside the PMG's Department.


Increased power for Commercial AMEdit

Following establishment of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in 1948, it was decided to focus the development of commercial radio services in Australia upon increasing the power and coverage of the existing services. During the 1950s the Sydney and Melbourne commercial services were permitted to increase power from typically 2 kW to 5 kW with modest coverage increases. Concurrently many regional commercial services, some with powers as low as 200 watts, through carefully planned sequences of frequency changes, were able to effect power increases to typically 2 kW.

ABC HF Inland ServiceEdit

During the 1950s, the PMG's Department established a number of transmitting facilities at existing sites for the simulcasting of ABC programmes to outback areas remaining without adequate reception from the existing AM transmitter networks.


5kW for Regional Commercial RadioEdit

Prior to about 1970, essentially all Australian AM radio services were implemented using omnidirectional antennas. Where spectrum scarcity demanded close channel sharing arrangements, night-time skywave interference was controlled by requiring co-channel services to reduce power at night. This arrangement was less than satisfactory as differences in coverage were apparent. A small number of Australian AM radio services had been commissioned with directional antennas providing pattern minima towards co-channel services. This small deployment was quite effective and the increase in spectrum efficiency was dramatic. The ABCB announced in its Circular Letter B109 of 1975, a changed policy wherein existing services running 2 kW or less would be permitted to increase power to 5 kW, subject to the provision of a directional antenna. The majority of commercial AM radio services availed themselves of this option over the next decade.


Department of the MediaEdit

The Department of the Media was one of several new Departments established by the Whitlam Government, a wide restructuring that revealed some of the new government's program. The Department was dissolved shortly after the Dismissal. It was replaced by the Postal and Telecommunications Department, representing a joining of the Department of the Media and the Postmaster-General's Department. The Department was an Australian Public Service department, staffed by officials who were responsible to the Minister for the Media, initially Doug McClelland (until June 1975), then Moss Cass (as part of a ministerial reshuffle in June 1975), and finally Reg Withers as a caretaker Minister for the month leading up to the December 1975 election (after the 11 November 1975 Dismissal in which the Governor-General appointed Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Fraser, as caretaker Prime Minister).Department officials were headed by a Secretary, initially (acting in the position) Ebor Lane (until January 1973) and then James Oswin (from January 1973 to the end of 1975). Gough Whitlam had initially offered the Secretary position to Talbot Duckmanton in January 1973, but Duckmanton was uncertain what the Department was supposed to do. After Oswin left the position in June 1975, he was replaced by James Spigelman, a 29-year-old who had previously been employed as the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary, the third person Whitlam had appointed as a Permanent Head of an Australian Government Department after time in that role.

Postal and Telecommunications DepartmentEdit

When the government disaggregated the behemoth Postmaster-General's Department in 1975 into the Australian Postal Commission and Australian Telecommunications Commission, the rump which remained responsible for policy development and regulatory functions including broadcasting planning became the Postal and Telecommunications Department.

Australian Broadcasting TribunalEdit

The Broadcasting and Television Amendment Act (No. 2) 1976 abolished the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and created the [[Australian Broadcasting Tribunal]]. All powers and responsibilities under the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942 were transferred from the Board to the Tribunal with the exception of the planning and engineering functions associated with broadcasting services, which became the responsibility of the Postal and Telecommunications Department. The Broadcasting and Television Amendment Act (No. 2) 1976 provided for the appointment of a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman and three Members for periods of up to five years. On 23 December 1976, the Minister announced the appointments for three years of Mr Bruce Gyngell as Chairman, Mr James H. Oswin as Vice-Chairman, and Mrs Janet Strickland as a Member, to become effective as from I January 1977. The Act also provided for the appointment of up to six Associate Members. Associate Members may be appointed for the purposes of the Tribunal's functions relating to public inquiries. No Associate Members had been appointed as at October 1977. The Tribunal commenced operations on 4 January 1977, utilising premises previously occupied by the Postal and Telecommunications Department at 153 Walker Street, North Sydney.

Early community radioEdit

In the mid 1970s, the government was preparing to embark on a new class of broadcasting, being community based. Due to restrictions under the then Broadcasting Act 1942, these stations were licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 as experimental services using both the AM radio and FM radio bands.

1978 AM restackEdit

The Australian government participated in a number of Regional Broadcasting Conferences which concluded with it signing the 1975 Regional Broadcasting Agreement in 1975. The plan commenced on 23 November 1978. Its principal feature was a raster of 9 kHz channel spacings compared to the 10 kHz plan which had prevailed in Australia since 1935. As a consequence there were 12 additional channels available for allocation in Australia with but small increase in adjacent channel interference. Together with the increased spectrum opportunities provided use of AM directional antennas, a significant number of new services were able to be introduced, satisfying to some extent, the rapidly increasing demand for new services which ultimately could only be satisfied by the release of the FM radio band for broadcasting purposes.

Radio 2JJEdit

The Australian Broadcasting Commission commenced its youth radio service in 1975 utilising a standby transmitter at the PMG's Department Liverpool AM transmission facility. With a modest power, higher frequency allocation and noisy radio environment, coverage was limited to a portion of the Sydney metropolitan area. The allocated callsign was 2JJ, but in an early usage of on-air identifiers it was soon announced as simply Double J. The service was immediately popular and demand for better coverage and transmission quality was strong. In one of the earliest examples of AM-FM conversion in Australia, the station was authorised to convert to the FM radio band in 1980, together with high power and full metropolitan coverage. The callsign became 2JJJ and the on-air identifier just Triple J. Popularity continued to soar and the program stream was deployed to new FM transmitters in the capital cities in 1989 (Tranche 2), then many regional areas in the early 1990s (Tranche 3). As the ABC's focus became increasingly content creation, further extension of the network by the ABC itself has ceased, but the network continues significant expansion throughout Australia by means of privately funded retransmission licences (enabled by the BSA92). In newly established mines, a Triple J FM transmitter to entertain the community is often the first choice for establishment.

Initial Translator LicencesEdit

The Broadcasting Act 1942 made no provision for radio subsidiary licences. In order to bring translator stations to air in a timely manner, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal had no alternative but to licence transmitters for small regions as separate stations. Following amendments to the Act, all commercial station licences were converted to New System licences with an associated defined Service Area, and where translator licences had previously been granted, these licence were brought within the main station licence.


Department of CommunicationsEdit

In 1980 the government renamed the Postal and Telecommunications Department as Department of Communications to reflect its broader role in the media.

Community radioEdit

From 1980, numerous community radio services were licensed. Initially these were mostly on the AM radio band, but increasingly FM band allocations were made in gaps within the Band II TV services.

FM commercial radioEdit

From 1980, the first commercial radio services were licensed, initially in the capital cities, then later in the regional areas.

Service Areas - Commercial and Community radioEdit

Commencing in the mid-1980s, the Department of Communications reviewed all commercial and community radio stations in Australia in consultation with individual stations and neighbouring services. Service areas (now Licence Areas) were determined for every commercial and community radio (and commercial TV) service.

Supplementary Commercial FM in regional areasEdit

It was considered by the government of the day that in many areas then served by only one commercial radio service (on AM), the introduction of an additional and independent commercial FM service would result in economic viability issues for one or both of the services. When initially announced in 1980, the scheme was to apply to both commercial radio and commercial television services. But by the time of commencement in 1985, the program was available for commercial radio services only. Solus regional commercial radio operators were invited to apply for supplementary FM licences and most did so. However the scheme quickly became mired in litigation as prospective independent licensee contested the economic viability assessments. By the time the process was concluded by the commencement of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, only a handful of supplementary licences had been issued.

Department of Transport and CommunicationsEdit

In 1987 the government merged the Department of Communications with the Department of Transport and Department of Aviation into the super-Department of Transport and Communications. This merger was with a view to a broader deregulatory agenda which ultimately resulted in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

New System Licensing - Commerical & Community RadioEdit

Following amendments to the Act, all commercial and community radio licences were converted to New System licences with an associated defined Service Area, and where translator licences had previously been granted, these licences were brought within the main station licence.

ABC Second Regional Radio NetworkEdit

During the 1980s the government funded a vast expansion of the ABC regional radio network. During the late 1930s, second ABC radio services in the metropolitan areas with the two networks being labelled simply Radio 1 and Radio 2. But in regional areas there was typically only a single radio services which usually transmitted an amalgam of Radio 1 and Radio 2.

ABC Parliamentary News Network, Tranche 1Edit

Circa 1990, a few services were established in metropolitan areas, but spectrum scarcity initially precluded a fuller deployment and coverage limitations.

AM-FM conversion, Tranche 1Edit

The existing licensees in commercial radio industry had been discontent with the auctioning of FM licences to new industry players. In 1988, the government announced the National Metropolitan Radio Plan 1988, which allowed for a limited number of metropolitan AM commercial to bid at auction for the right to convert their operation to FM. Recognising the national strategic importance of the AM transmission facilities of these services, a feature of the plan, was an independent valuation of the AM facilities, which were then acquired by the commonwealth and used primarily for provision of Radio for the Print Handicapped services and Parliamentary broadcasting.


ABC Parliamentary News Network, Tranche 2Edit

In the early 1990s the network was fully deployed to all metropolitan areas, using AM channels and often transmission facilities released by the first tranche of AM-FM conversions.

AM-FM conversion, Tranche 2Edit

Planning of the second tranche of AM-FM conversions for commercial AM services was effected within a framework of a scheduled of prices for the right to convert and was widely adopted within its target services. The process was not available to metropolitan commercial services and solus commercial operators were in the middle of the Supplementary FM scheme, but many of these target services availed themselves of a process which involved modest cost and minimal intervention.

Broadcasting Services Act 1992Edit

With a breadth and scope the BSA92 quietly transformed all aspects of the Australian broadcasting system which had slowly evolved over the 70 years since the Wireless Regulations of 1922. The Australian regulator changed its agenda from detailed planning of all aspects of each stations operation to a lighter touch which looked more towards managing mutual interference between services.

Radiocommunications Act 1992Edit

The Radiocommunications Act 1992 was enacted in 1992.

Australian Broadcasting AuthorityEdit

The Australian Broadcasting Authority was created under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and assumed the functions and staff of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal

Temporary Community Broadcasting LicencesEdit

Prior to the BSA92, a framework for licensing aspirant community broadcasters had been in place, but the process had been formalised under the BSA92 and comprehensive guidelines were soon developed and implemented.

Special EventsEdit

Prior to the BSA92, a framework for special event licensing had been in place, but the process had been formalised under the BSA92 and comprehensive guidelines were soon developed and implemented.

Narrowband Area ServicesEdit

Prior to the BSA92, a framework for Narrowband Area Services licensing had been in place as Limited Broadcasting Licences, but the process had been formalised under the BSA92 and comprehensive guidelines were soon developed and implemented.

Low Power Open NarrowcastingEdit

Prior to the BSA92, a framework for Low Power Open Narrowcasting Services licensing had been in place as Limited Broadcasting Licences, but the process had been formalised under the BSA92 and comprehensive guidelines were soon developed and implemented.

Domestic HF broadcastingEdit

The broadcasting privileges for amateur radio operators prior to commencement of WW2, were not restored following conclusion of hostilities. After some 50 years, private broadcasting was effectively reintroduced with BSA92. A careful framework was introduced and numerous licences issued, but lifetimes appear brief and support remains weak.

Private international HF broadcastingEdit

The BSA92 made provision for licensing of private entities to broadcast internationally from Australian soil.

Digital Radio (DAB) TestingEdit

Commencing in the early 1990s, the Department of Communications conducted extensive studies into DAB Digital Radio, followed by a number of comprehensive field tests. The studies and tests were conducted by the Departments Communications Laboratory.

National Transmission AgencyEdit

In the early 1990s, the government established the National Transmission Agency, bringing together national broadcast planners from the Department of Transport and Communications and transmission engineers from Telstra Broadcasting. The agency was to oversight the planning and operation of the National Broadcasting Service with a view to creating a discrete entity and cost centre more amenable to sale of the National Transmission Network.

s39 FM commercial servicesEdit

The new section 39 of the BSA92 was similar in intent to the Supplementary FM radio scheme. However a simplified regulatory framework was adopted which largely obviated the litigation of the frmer scheme. There was a short window of opportunity for solus commercial licensees in regional markets to apply for an additional "s39" commercial FM licence. Most qualified licensees availed themselves of the opportunity and in less than a year some 69 such services were licenced and most commenced operations within a very few months.

1993 Planning PrioritiesEdit

In accordance with the BSA92, the new ABA embarked upon a massive first principles review of Australian broadcasting needs within in the context of significant deregulation. The was considerable public consultation which was reflected in the final report which laid out a framework for establishing new radio services, region by region. The framework was very largely adhered to over the next decade.

Licence Area PlanningEdit

Following on from the 1993 Planning Priorities report, the ABA commenced a program of public consultation, region by region resulting in the determination of Licence Area plans for each Australian broadcasting market.

ABC Triple J NetworkEdit

During the late 1980s and 1990s, the government funded a massive expansion of the ABC's Triple J network using the FM band exclusively and extending to all capital cities and larger regional areas.

AM-FM conversion, Tranche 3Edit

During the 1990s there were no further commercial FM AM-FM conversions, however most of the AM community radio services elected to convert to FM during this period while the ABC chose to convert a number of their regional services where considered suitable.

Narrowcasting, Tranche 1Edit

As the first and second tranches of AM-FM conversion were effected, the vacated AM channels which were not required by the government for Parliamentary broadcasting services were made available on an interim basis to various narrowcasters, mostly racing radio services.

Narrowcasting, Tranche 2Edit

Commencing from the mid 1990s, a very large number of vacated AM channels and newly planned FM radio channels were released through a price-based allocation process. This scheme continues to the present, as additional channels are made available through Licence Area Plan variations in response to expressed interest by prospective licensees.

Sale of National Transmission NetworkEdit

By the late 1990s, the National Transmission Agency had closely integrated all the former national broadcast planners from the Department of Transport and Communications and the former transmission engineers from Telstra Broadcasting. The oversight by the agency over several years had created a single discrete entity and cost centre for the National Broadcasting Service. A public Request for Tender on the National Transmission Network was made and a sale negotiated. The successful tenderer was NTL Australia. NTA staff were given the option of transferring to NTL Australia, those who did not avail themselves of the option generally were placed in other positions within the ABA. The sale concluded almost 70 years of public ownership of the National Broadcasting Service which had commenced in 1929 with the purchase by the Commonwealth of Australia of the first Class A broadcasting services.


ABC Parliamentary News Network, Tranche 3Edit

In the mid 2000s, the government funded a major expansion of the ABC's Parliamentary News Network to all population centres in excess of 10,000 persons, almost all of which utilised channels in the FM radio band.

Australian Communications and Media AuthorityEdit

The Australian Communications and Media Authority was formed in 2005, commencing on 1 July 2005, by the merger of the former Australian Broadcasting Authority and the former Australian Communications Authority.

Digital Radio in Capital CitiesEdit

Australia was one of the first countries to undertake tests of Digital Radio. Extensive tests were undertaken of the DAB system at 1.5 GHz in the early 1990s. The Australian policy framework slowly evolved with a number of published studies and policy analyses. There was recognition that only capital city markets would be economically viable for the new medium while digital receiver penetration slowly ramped up. These services commenced in July 2009 using channels within the Band III TV band. A significant deployment of digital on-channel repeaters has been effected in recent years to in-fill coverage gaps both within and at the periphery of their coverage areas.


AM-FM conversion, Tranche 4Edit

Planning is currently well advanced on conversion of many of the remaining AM services in solus regional commercial markets to the FM radio band. The first such station to convert was 6NW Port Hedland which commenced its FM service in December 2017 and ceased its simulcast with the AM service in January 2018.

Digital Radio in Regional & Remote MarketsEdit

Planning is currently well advanced on the establishment of Digital Radio services in regional and remote markets. Trials in Canberra and Darwin have been underway for some years.

Closure of Radio Australia ShortwaveEdit

In 2017, the ABC concluded terrestrial international shortwave transmission with the closure of its sole remaining transmitter site at Shepparton. The action remains controversial.

Regulatory TopicsEdit

The foregoing regulatory chronology details, decade by decade, specific regulatory developments in broadcasting and the results of those regulations in terms of deployment of new services. However, some topics, once established progressively evolve over many decades and these are discussed in the following.

Call signsEdit

Call signs were introduced in 1920 and, with minor refinements, exist in the same form today. All stations have an alphanumeric; the defining numeral is followed by two letters to form a call sign that is unique to each station. The numeral defines the state or territory in which the station is sited. Originally, the following were used: 2 = New South Wales (and originally Australian Capital Territory); 3 = Victoria; 4 = Queensland; 5 = South Australia (and originally Northern Territory); 6 = Western Australia; 7 = Tasmania. The letters often defined the station ownership (e.g.: 2HD = Harry Douglas; 3DB = Druleigh Business College; 5CL = Central Broadcasters Limited) or geographic region (e.g.: 3WR = WangaRatta; 4MK = MacKay; 7HO = HObart), but in other cases the letters had no specific meaning. Over the years, the following numerals were added: 1 = Australian Capital Territory (but earlier stations still retain their "2" call sign); 8 = Northern Territory; 9 = military stations during World War II, and later for New Guinea, and Papua – then there's 9MI which doesn't really fit into any category (see below under "Mobile Stations"); 0 = Australian Antarctic Territory.[40]

Australia's postcodes, introduced in 1967, use the same introductory numeral as radio call signs.

There is an urban myth that call signs were based on Australian military districts but this incorrect, as the following list of military districts show: 1 = Queensland; 2 = New South Wales; 3 = Victoria; 4 = South Australia; 5 = Western Australia; 6 = Tasmania; 7 = Northern Territory; 8 = New Guinea, and Papua.[41]

Today, with minor exceptions, AM stations retain the two letters after the numeral, and since 1975 FM stations have had three letters. Over the last few decades, there has been a trend for many stations to use marketing names on air rather than their official call sign. Inter alia, examples of such on-air names are: Gold, Mix, HOTFM, Nova, and STAR FM.[42] Stations will often change their marketing name even when there is just a small change in format.


AM radioEdit

1920s Class A Services low end of AM band, Class B services upper end of band, Amateurs above 1400? kHz late 1920s Australia commences to allocate AM radio services in the range between 1400 kHz and 1500 kHz 1926 AM restack 1935 AM restack and 10 kHz spacing plan 1938 Following Cairo conference, the upper limit of the broadcast band was extended from 1500 kHz to 1600 kHz, however most consumer receivers were unable to tune this range and it was many years before the PMG planners were prepared to allocate these frequencies 1948 AM restack 1978 9 kHz spacing plan

FM radioEdit

1948 First use of the international FM broadcast band for test transmissions by the NBS. These tests were semi-permanent in nature and only switched off in preparation for introduction of TV services into Band II 1965 UHF band was allocated to FM radio services but policy continued to be reviewed and there were no services deployed. 1975 Decision was made to cease deployments of new TV services using Band II and to progressively convert existing services to Band III and Band IV. Remaining gaps in Band II would be used for new FM radio services 2009 Last band II TV service switches off with the completion of transition to Digital TV in Australia which makes no provision for use of Band II


Most Australian stations originally broadcast music interspersed with such things as talks, coverage of sporting events, church broadcasts, weather, news and time signals of various types. Virtually all stations also had programs of interest to women, and children's sessions. From the outset, A Class stations' peak-hour evening programs often consisted of live broadcasts from various theatres, including concerts dramas, operas, musicals, variety shows, and vaudeville. The first dramas especially written for radio were heard in the mid-1920s.

The standard accent used by actors and announcers was "Southern English", an upper class British version that emulated the BBC. The actual Australian accent was acceptable only in low comedy, as in the long-running "Dad and Dave from Snake Gully" program.[43]

By the 1930s, the ABC was transmitting a number of British programs sourced from the BBC, and commercial stations were receiving a number of US programs, particularly dramas. However, in the 1940s, war-time restrictions made it difficult to access overseas programs and, therefore, the amount of Australian dramatic material increased. As well as using original ideas and scripts, there were a number of local versions of overseas programs.

Initially, much of the music broadcast in Australia was from live studio concerts. However, the amount of gramophone (and piano roll) music soon increased dramatically, particularly on commercial stations.

In the late 1930s, the number of big production variety shows multiplied significantly, particularly on the two major commercial networks, Macquarie and Major. After World War II the independent Colgate-Palmolive radio production unit was formed. It poached most major radio stars from the various stations.

Family audiencesEdit

Until the 1950s, the whole family seated around a set in the living room was the typical way of listening to radio. Stations tried to be all things to all people, and specialised programming was not really thought about at this stage (it did not come in until the late 1950s). Because of this, programming on most stations was pretty much the same.

In the immediate post-war period, commercial stations typically had a schedule that looked something like this: a breakfast session with bright music including band music, news and weather, a children's segment and, usually, an exercise segment; morning programs were aimed at women listeners, often with large blocks of soap operas or serials, and many segments of the handy hints genre; afternoon programs were also usually geared at women but with more music and, often, a request session; after school, there was inevitably a Children's Session (often hosted by an aunt or uncle or both), and usually featuring birthday greetings; this was followed by another block of serials, often geared at children, and/or dinner music; the major news bulletin was usually at 7.00 pm, often followed by a news commentary; the peak listening hours typically consisted of a mix of variety programs (including many quizzes), dramas, talent quests and the occasional musical program, often live; late night programming mainly consisted of relaxing music, usually mellow jazz or light classical. There was usually only one station in each capital city that was licensed to broadcast through the night.


In children's programming, Ambrose Saunders (1895–1953) was a leading actor. A baritone, He became "Uncle George," telling bedtime stories at first. In 1926 he was joined by his foil Arthur Hahn as 'Bimbo'. In 1927 they moved to 2GB, a pioneer commercial stations. Storytelling was the main ingredient, accompanied by birthday calls, call-out greetings to listeners, songs, and things to make and do. Story-telling remained Saunders' signature role until he retired from radio in 1940.[44]


Cricket became the major Australian sport in the 1930s, and radio played its part, especially when its broadcast of the test matches with England swelled national pride.[45]

Johnny Moyes, (1893–1963), a veteran newspaper journalist, by 1955 was a leading cricket broadcaster. His biographer notes that his "pithy and authoritative commentaries, delivered in a 'dryly-humourous voice', won thousands of listeners to the A.B.C. He was renowned for his summaries of the day's game which, he wrote, should be 'factual and yet not dull'". His 'infectiously hysterical' description of the last over of the tied Test between Australia and the West Indies in 1960 became an iconic statement of broadcast journalism at its most entertaining.[46]

Cyril Angles, (1906–1962), a former jockey, began broadcasting horse races in 1931 over station 2KY. He called from 30 to 60 races every week, some 30,000 during his career, as well as commenting on many other sporting events. His biographer notes that, "The accuracy of his incisive and unhurried descriptions, delivered in a flat, mechanical and slightly abrasive voice, established his reputation." He became the best-paid sportscaster in Australia.[47]


Religious programs were widely broadcast, with an emphasis on religious services, sermons, and church music. One of the most popular programs from 1931 to 1968 was "Dr. Rumble's Question Box." Rumble, a Catholic priest, gave advice by answering letters from listeners about life's problems for an hour every Sunday night. Frank Sturge Harty broadcast a similar program every afternoon from an Anglican perspective.[48]

Trouble arose in 1931 when the Jehovah's Witnesses took control of station 5KA. In 1933 the government banned its diatribes against the Catholic Church, the British Empire, and the United States. In 1941 its station was closed down as dangerous to national security, at the demand of the Army and Navy. Furthermore, the Jehovah's Witnesses were declared an illegal organization.[49]

The 1950s and 1960sEdit

Australian radio sets usually had the positions of radio stations marked on their dials. The illustration is a dial from a transistorised, mains operated Calstan radio, circa 1960s. (Click image for a high resolution view, with readable callsigns.)
Naomi ("Joan") Melwit and Norman Banks at the 3KZ microphone, in late 1930s. Banks was one of Melbourne's (and Australia's) most prominent broadcasters at 3KZ (1930–1952) and 3AW (1952–1978). He is remembered for founding Carols by Candlelight, as a pioneer football commentator, and for hosting both musical and interview programs. In later years he was one of Melbourne's first and most prominent talkback hosts. At the commencement of his career, Banks was known for his double entendres and risque remarks; as a talk back host he was outspoken in his conservative views, especially regarding the White Australia policy and Apartheid. In 1978 his 47-year career in radio was hailed as the longest in world history.[50]

Like most of the world, Australia experienced great changes to broadcasting during the 1950s and 1960s. This was mainly caused by two things: the introduction of television and the gradual replacement of the radio valve with the transistor.

Mainstream television transmission commenced in Sydney and Melbourne just in time for the Melbourne Olympic Games in November/December 1956. It was then phased in at other capital cities, and then into rural markets. Many forms of entertainment, particularly drama and variety, proved more suited to television than radio, so the actors and producers migrated there.

The transistor radio first appeared on the market in 1954. In particular, it made portable radios even more transportable. All sets quicklly became smaller, cheaper and more convenient. The aim of radio manufacturers became a radio in every room, in the car, and in the pocket.

The upshot of these two changes was that stations started to specialise and concentrate on specific markets. The first areas to see specialised stations were the news and current affairs market, and stations specialising in pop music and geared toward the younger listener who was now able to afford his/her own radio.

Talkback was to become a major radio genre by the end of the 1960s, but it was not legalised in Australia until October 1967.[51] The fears of intrusion were addressed by a beep that occurred every few seconds, so that the caller knew that his/her call was being broadcast. There was also a seven-second delay so that obscene or libelous material could be monitored.

By the end of the 1960s, specialisation by radio stations had increased dramatically and there were stations focusing on various kinds of music, talkback, news, sport, etc.

The 1970s, 1980s, and 1990sEdit

After much procrastination on the part of various federal governments, FM broadcasting was eventually introduced in 1975. (There had been official experiments with FM broadcasting as far back as 1948.)

Only a handful of radio stations were given new licences during the 1940s, 1950s & 1960s but, since 1975, many hundreds of new broadcasting licences have been issued on both the FM and AM bands. In the latter case, this was made possible by having 9 kHz between stations, rather than 10 kHz breaks, as per the Geneva Frequency Plan. The installation of directional aerials also encouraged more AM stations.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation logo, first introduced in 1975 and based on the Lissajous curve.

The types of station given FM licences reflects the policies and philosiphies of the various Australian governments. Initially, only the ABC and community radio stations were granted FM licences. However, after a change of government, commercial stations were permitted on the band, as from 1980. At first, one or two brand new stations were permitted in each major market. However, in 1990, one or two existing AM stations in each major market were given FM licences; the stations being chosen by an auction system. Apart from an initial settling-in period for those few stations transferred from AM to FM, there has been no simulcasting between AM and FM stations.

In major cities, a number of brand new FM licences were issued in the 1990s and 2000s. All rural regions which traditionally had only one commercial station now have at least one AM and one FM commercial station. In many cases, the owner of the original station now has at least two outlets. The number of regional transmitters for the ABC's five networks also increased dramatically during this era.

The 2000sEdit

The "Kerbango Internet Radio" was the first stand-alone product that let users listen to Internet radio without a computer.

From August 2009, digital radio was phased in by geographical region. Today, the ABC, SBS, commercial and community radio stations operate on the AM and FM bands. Most stations are available on the internet and most also have digital outlets. By 2007, there were 261 commercial stations in Australia.[51] The ABC currently has five AM/FM networks and is in the process of establishing a series of supplementary music stations that are only available on digital radios and digital television sets. SBS provides non-English language programs over its two networks, as do a number of community radio stations.

Political issuesEdit

Dual systemEdit

Australia faced the choice between the American system of privately owned radio stations with minimal government control, favoured by the Liberal Party, or a government run system as exemplified by the British BBC, favoured by the Labor Party. The result was a compromise and Australia's dual radio broadcasting system comprises two parts.

The "Public" sector (Class A stations), operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which is modeled after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). This sector was originally funded by listener licence fees. However, all licence fees were abolished in 1974 by the Australian Labor Party government led by Gough Whitlam on the basis that the near-universality of television and radio services meant that public funding was a fairer method of providing revenue for government-owned radio and television broadcasters. The ABC since then has been funded by government grants, plus its own commercial activities (merchandising, overseas sale of programmes, etc.)

The "Commercial" sector (Class B stations) consists of privately owned radio stations, which may operate within "Networks". The two major, early commercial networks, Macquarie and Major were modeled after the American system and funded through advertising revenue. By 2007, there were 261 commercial radio stations.[52][53]

Politics on the airEdit

Both Labor and Liberal politicians who visited the United States were highly impressed with the rapidly growing importance of political broadcasts. The 1931 national election was the first to feature heavy use of political broadcasts. Labor Prime Minister James Scullin was in a difficult contest, and he realized that radio receivers were now widespread, and the medium was much more effective and much cheaper than stumping in person using long-distance train travel. The New South Wales Labor Party leader Jack Lang emulated President Roosevelt's "fireside chat" format. Liberals followed suit; Robert Menzies based his 1949 Liberal campaign around radio broadcasts.[54][55]

During the Second World War, Prime Minister Curtin made very heavy use of newspapers and broadcast media, especially through press conferences, speeches, and newsreels. Australians gained a sense it was a people's war in which they were full participants.[56]

After numerous short-lived experiments in the states, Parliament began radio broadcasts of its proceedings in 1946.[57] Live television broadcasts of selected parliamentary sessions started in 1990. ABC NewsRadio, a continuous news network broadcast on the Parliamentary and News Network when parliament is not sitting, was launched on 5 October 1994.[58]

In sharp contrast to print media, television broadcasts offered critical accounts of Australia's role in the war in Vietnam. In particular, the program "Four Corners favoured the viewpoint of the antiwar and anticonscription movements.[59]

Political scientists have suggested that television coverage has subtly transformed the political system, with a spotlight on leaders rather than parties, thereby making for more of an American-presidential-style system. In the 2001 Federal election, television news focused on international issues, especially terrorism and asylum seekers. The September 11 attacks three weeks earlier had dominated the news. Minor parties were largely ignored as the two main parties monopolized the camera's attention. The election was depicted as a horse race between the Coalition's John Howard, who ran ahead and was therefore given more coverage than his Labor rival Kim Beazley.[60]

International issuesEdit

Australians were not satisfied with rebroadcast BBC material; they took too much pride in their own original programming as compared to BBC's mediocre "Empire Service".[61] Furthermore, Australia had its own worldwide shortwave service called "The Voice of Australia" 1931 to 1939. When war broke out the government set up "Radio Australia" to disseminate propaganda and the Allied version of war news throughout the South Pacific.[62]

Pop Americana versus British heritageEdit

In Australia's media world, there was a subtle cultural war underway between the pull of American popular culture on the one hand, with its widespread popularity and the risk according to its critics, of degrading the public taste. Critics favoured the supposedly superior traditional culture of the mother country, which appealed to upscale audiences that were representative of the nation's elite. Richard Boyer, (1891–1961), chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, fought against commercialism because he feared it would lead to American dominance. He held that the BBC model of a publicly owned and operated television would sustain Australia's British heritage.[63]


The arrival of large numbers of new immigrants after 1945, along with a radical revision of attitudes toward nonwhite groups, produced pressures on the government regarding broadcasting access. Demands led to the creation of the Special Broadcasting Service, a publicly funded broadcaster mandated to provide multicultural and multilingual programming. In Canada, by contrast, the government stood apart and multicultural or multilingual program was provided by the private sector.[64][65]

Since 1968, aborigines have controlled Imparja Television, a network based in Alice Springs.[66] The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, founded in 1980 by Freda Glynn (b. 1939), produces radio and television programs aimed at Aboriginal communities from a base in Alice Springs.[67]

In 1976 the Green Inquiry created the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal. It opened up license renewal hearings to the public, giving voice to those with sharp criticisms of Australian broadcasting.[68]


As early as 1929, two Melbourne commercial radio stations, 3UZ and 3DB were conducting experimental mechanical television broadcasts – these were conducted in the early hours of the morning, after the stations had officially closed down. In 1934 Dr Val McDowall[69] at amateur station 4CM Brisbane[70] conducted experiments in electronic television.

Television broadcasting officially began in 1956 and has since expanded to include a broad range of public, commercial, community, subscription, narrowcast, and amateur stations across the country. Colour television in the PAL 625-line format went to a full-time basis on 1975. Subscription television, on the Galaxy platform, began in 1995. Digital terrestrial television was introduced in 2001.[71]

ABC: The national systemEdit

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), established in 1929, is Australia's state-owned and funded national public broadcaster. With a total annual budget of A$1.22 billion,[72] the corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas through the Australia Network and Radio Australia and is well regarded for quality and reliability as well as for offering educational and cultural programming that the commercial sector would be unlikely to supply on its own.[73]


ABC mobile studio caravan, used for concerts presented by the ABC at army camps and other locations, 1940

The first public radio station in Australia opened in Sydney on 23 November 1923 under the call sign 2SB with other stations in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart following.[74] A licensing scheme, administered by the Postmaster-General's Department, was soon established allowing certain stations government funding, albeit with restrictions placed on their advertising content.[75]

Following a 1927 royal commission inquiry into radio licensing issues, the government established the National Broadcasting Service which subsequently took over a number of the larger funded stations. It also nationalised the Australian Broadcasting Company which had been created by entertainment interests to supply programs to various radio stations.[75] On 1 July 1932, the Australian Broadcasting Commission was established, taking over the operations of the National Broadcasting Service and eventually establishing offices in each of Australia's capital cities.[75][76]

Over the next four years the stations were reformed into a cohesive broadcasting organisation through regular program relays, coordinated by a centralised bureaucracy.[77] The Australian broadcast radio spectrum was constituted of the ABC and the commercial sector.[77]

Cater argues that reform was urgently needed in 1945:

By the end of World War II, the ABC was a decadent, hollow institution. Its authority had been compromised by a poorly drafted charter and further undermined by timid management, poor governance and creeping wartime censorship. In April 1945, Boyer refused to accept the post of chairman until Prime Minister Curtin issued a mandate of independence which Boyer drafted himself. The ABC under Boyer and general manager Charles Moses invested as best it could in the cultural capital of the nation, establishing viable symphony orchestras and seizing on the potential of television.... [Boyer's] neutrality was never seriously questioned.[78]


The first broadcast of ABC TV – presented by Michael Charlton, 5 November 1956

The ABC began television broadcasting in 1956 ABN-2 (New South Wales) Sydney was inaugurated by Prime Minister Robert Menzies on 5 November 1956.[79] ABV-2. Broadcasting big-band and other major cities 1956–1961. Television relay facilities were put in place in the early 1960s. Until then, news bulletins were sent to each TV station. Popular programs at the time included Six O'Clock Rock hosted by Johnny O'Keefe, Mr. Squiggle, as well as operas and plays. Rugby was first broadcast in 1973. Colour was introduced in 1975. ABC budget cuts began in 1976 and continued until 1985, leading to some short strikes. The budget cuts crippled the network for years."[80]

Many Australian households quickly rearranged their dining habits so the family could watch television together at tea time. The lounge typically became the TV room. Magazines published advice on preparing meals to be taken in front of the television. Stores began to carry new products such as vinyl furniture, frozen dinners, tray tables, and plastic dishes.[81]


Starting with its new name in 1983, the "Australian Broadcasting Corporation" underwent significant restructuring. The ABC was split into separate television and radio divisions, with an overhaul of management, finance, property and engineering.[82] Program production was expanded in indigenous affairs, comedy, drama, social history and current affairs. Local production trebled from 1986 to 1991 with the assistance of co-production, co-financing, and pre-sales arrangements.[82]

A new Concert Music Department was formed in 1985 to coordinate the corporation's six symphony orchestras, which in turn received a greater level of autonomy to better respond to local needs.[82] Open-air free concerts and tours, educational activities, and joint ventures with other music groups were undertaken at the time to expand the orchestras' audience reach.[82]

ABC Radio was restructured significantly again in 1985 – Radio One became the Metropolitan network, while Radio 2 became known as Radio National (callsigns, however, were not standardised until 1990). New programs such as The World Today, Australia All Over, and The Coodabeen Champions were introduced, while ABC-FM established an Australian Music Unit in 1989.[82] Radio Australia began to focus on the Asia-Pacific region, with coverage targeted at the south west and central Pacific, south-east Asia, and north Asia. Radio Australia also carried more news coverage, with special broadcasts during the 1987 Fijian coup, Tiananmen Square massacre, and the First Gulf War.[82]

The ABC's Sydney headquarters in Ultimo.

The ABC Multimedia Unit was established in July 1995, to manage the new ABC website (launched in August). Funding was allocated later that year specifically for online content, as opposed to reliance on funding for television and radio content. The first online election coverage was put together in 1996, and included news, electorate maps, candidate information and live results. By the early 1990s, all major ABC broadcasting outlets moved to 24-hour-a-day operation, while regional radio coverage in Australia was extended with 80 new transmitters.[83]

International television service Australia Television International was established in 1993, while at the same time Radio Australia increased its international reach. Reduced funding in 1997 for Radio Australia resulted in staff and programming cuts.

Australia Television was sold to the Seven Network in 1998; however, the service continued to show ABC news and current affairs programming up until its closure in 2001.[84] The ABC's television operation joined its radio and online divisions at the corporation's Ultimo headquarters in 2000.[85]


In 2001, digital television commenced after four years of preparation.[85] In readiness, the ABC had fully digitised its production, post-production and transmission facilities. The ABC's Multimedia division was renamed "ABC New Media", becoming an output division of the ABC alongside Television and Radio.[85] Legislation allowed the ABC to provide 'multichannels' – additional, digital-only, television services managed by the New Media Division. Soon after the introduction of digital television in 2001, Fly TV and the ABC Kids channel launched, showing a mix of programming aimed at teenagers and children.

In 2002, the ABC launched ABC Asia Pacific – the replacement for the defunct Australia Television International operated previously by the Seven Network. Much like its predecessor, and companion radio network Radio Australia, the service provided a mix of programming targeted at audiences throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Funding cuts in 2003 led to the closure of Fly TV and the ABC Kids channel.

The ABC launched a digital radio service, ABC DiG, in November 2002, available through the internet and digital television, but not available through any other terrestrial broadcast until DAB+ became available in 2009.

ABC2 launched on 7 March 2005

ABC2, a second attempt at a digital-only television channel, was launched on 7 March 2005. By 2006 ABC2 carried comedy, drama, national news, sport and entertainment.[86]


ABC News 24 launched on 22 July 2010,[87] and brought with it both new programming content as well as a collaboration of existing news and current affair productions and resources. The ABC launched the 24-hour news channel to both complement its existing 24-hour ABC News Radio service and compete with commercial offerings on cable TV. It became the ABC's fifth domestic TV channel and the fourth launched within the past 10 years.

See alsoEdit



Broadcasting pioneersEdit


Producers, back-room personnel, etc.Edit

Announcers, DJs, etc.Edit

Specialist broadcastersEdit



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Further readingEdit

  • Carty, Bruce. Australian Radio History (4th ed. Sydney, 2013) [3]
  • Crawford, Robert. But wait, there's more...: a history of Australian advertising, 1900–2000 (Melbourne Univ. Press, 2008)
  • Cunningham, Stuart, and Graeme Turner, eds. The Media & Communications in Australia (2nd ed. 2010) online
  • Elliot, Hugh. "The Three-Way Struggle of Press, Radio and TV in Australia". Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (1960) 37#2 pp: 267–274.
  • Griffen-Foley, Bridget. Changing Stations: the story of Australian commercial radio [4]
  • Griffen-Foley, Bridget. "Australian Commercial Radio, American Influences—and The BBC". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (2010) 30#3 pp: 337–355. online
  • Griffen‐Foley, Bridget. "From the Murrumbidgee to Mamma Lena: Foreign language broadcasting on Australian commercial radio, part I". Journal of Australian Studies 2006; 30(88): 51–60. part 1 online; part 2 online
  • Harte, Bernard. When Radio Was The Cat's Whiskers (Rosenberg Publishing, 2002) [5]
  • Inglis, K. S. This is the ABC – the Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932–1983 (2006) [6]
  • Inglis, K. S. Whose ABC? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1983–2006 (2006) [7]
  • Johnson, Lesley. The Unseen Voice: a cultural study of early Australian radio (London, 1988) [8]
  • Jolly, Rhonda. Media ownership and regulation: a chronology (Canberra, 2016) [9]
  • Jones, Colin. Something in the air : a history of radio in Australia (Kenthurst, 1995) [10]
  • Kent, Jacqueline. Out of the Bakelite Box: the heyday of Australian radio (Sydney, 1983) [11]
  • Langhans, Ron. The First Twelve Months of Radio Broadcasting in Australia 1923-1924 (R. Langhans, 2013) [12]
  • Mackay, Ian K. Broadcasting in Australia (Melbourne University Press, 1957) [13]
  • Martin, Fiona (2002). "Beyond public service broadcasting? ABC online and the user/citizen". Southern Review: Communication, Politics & Culture. 35 (1): 42. 
  • Moran, Albert, and Chris Keating. The A to Z of Australian Radio and Television (Scarecrow Press, 2009) [14]
  • Muscio, Winston T. Australian Radio, The Technical Story 1923-1983 (Kangaroo Press, 1984) [15]
  • Petersen, Neville. News Not Views: The ABC, Press and Politics (1932–1947) (Sydney, 1993), Emphasizes newspaper restrictions on broadcasters [16]
  • Potter, Simon J. "‘INVASION BY THE MONSTER’ Transnational influences on the establishment of ABC Television, 1945–1956". Media History (2011) 17#3 pp: 253–271.
  • Potts, John. Radio in Australia (UNSW Press, 1989) [17]
  • Ross, John F. A History of Radio in South Australia 1897-1977 (J. F. Ross, 1978) [18]
  • Ross, John F. Handbook for Radio Engineering Managers (Butterworths, 1980) [19]
  • Ross, John F. Radio Broadcasting Technology, 75 Years of Development in Australia 1923-1998 (J. F. Ross, 1998) [20]
  • Sanderson, Doug G. On Air (History of the NBS in Qld and PNG) (D. G. Sanderson, 1988)
  • Semmler, Clement. The ABC: Aunt Sally and Sacred Cow (1981) [21]
  • Shawsmith, Alan. Halcyon Days, The Story of Amateur Radio in VK4, Queensland, Australia (Boolarong Publications, 1987) [22]
  • Thomas, Alan. Broadcast and Be Damned, The ABC's First Two Decades (Melbourne University Press, 1980) [23]
  • Walker, R. R. The Magic Spark: 50 Years of Radio in Australia (Hawthorn Press, 1973) [24]
  • Ward, Ian (1999). "The early use of radio for political communication in Australia and Canada: John Henry Austral, Mr Sage and the Man from Mars". Australian Journal of Politics & History. 45 (3): 311–330. doi:10.1111/1467-8497.00067. 
  • Young, Sally (2003). "A century of political communication in Australia, 1901–2001". Journal of Australian Studies. 27 (78): 97–110. doi:10.1080/14443050309387874.