Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The ABC or Australian Broadcasting Corporation is the national, public broadcaster in Australia. It is government-funded and provides radio, television and online services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia and overseas via Radio Australia. There is also a chain of ABC Shops selling books, audio and video recordings related to ABC programming.
Governance and history
The ABC commenced operation in 1932 as a collection of 12 radio stations operating as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but changed its name to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983 with the passage of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 (ABC Act).
The ABC is run by a government-appointed board, but programming and editorial decisions are made at arm's length from the government of the day. The political bias of the ABC's news and current affairs coverage is endlessly debated. Conservatives claim that the ABC tends towards the political left wing, but the opposite view is seldom raised from those towards the left of the political spectrum.
Unlike the BBC in Britain, the ABC has been funded through a government grant-in-aid, since licence fees were abolished in 1974. In recent years there has been turmoil on the administrative front, with conflict between Boards of Directors and successive Federal governments, most recently the Howard Government. Despite government funding, the ABC is largely independent.
It has influenced many aspects of the national culture:
- The ABC is a legendary radio presenter of sport at all levels. Television was introduced to Australia in 1956, in time to cover the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. The ABC had exclusive Australian television and radio broadcasting rights to the Games. (A commercial TV station, TCN-9 Sydney, hosted the first Australian TV broadcast, on 16 September 1956, introduced by Bruce Gyngell.)
- The ABC has been a leader in presenting music in all its forms, studio-recorded and live: including classical, popular, jazz, world music, electronic, minimalist and folk through state symphony orchestras, live concerts, FM radio (ABC Classic FM, Triple J), AM (Radio National), in programs such as Countdown, Rage, JazzTrack, Lonely Planet, Singers of Renown; TV-FM simulcasts, and generally involvement and sponsorship of live instrumental and vocal music-making.
The ABC operates a single nationwide TV channel, ABC TV, sometimes known as Channel 2, on account of the frequency on which it operates in the state capitals.
The ABC broadcasts a wide range of content, to match the broad social makeup of Australia. On ABC Television, this ranges from British comedies such as The League of Gentlemen and Absolutely Fabulous to children's programs such as Sesame Street and its own Play School. Bananas in Pyjamas is an ABC production, now seen and enjoyed by children worldwide dubbed into their own language. It produces specialist programs for rural viewers (such as 'Landline'), a large range of high quality current affairs programmes (notably Lateline, The 7.30 Report and Four Corners), whose number of foreign reporters is unmatched by other Australian networks. It also produces Australian drama and comedy. Recent notables have included the ratings hit Kath and Kim and Grassroots, joining the crypt of Australian TV treasures: Frontline, The Games and Mother and Son. It has also begun producing a foreign affairs program called "Hemispheres", co-produced with the CBC of Canada, and presented from both Sydney and Vancouver.
The ABC briefly operated digital television channels aimed at a younger audience, called ABC Kids and Fly TV, but these were axed by the ABC in 2003 amid substantial decreases in federal funding. Long-running educational show Behind the News was also axed. The ABC currently broadcasts DiG radio over its digital service. In August 2004 the ABC announced plans to recommence digital only multichanneling with a new channel featuring "a mix of programming, including children's, documentary, arts and entertainment ... also offering international and regional news programs." The new channel, to be known as ABC2, will commence transmitting in March 2005 will be available through digital free to air in addition to being available through Pay TV operators. The station will air original and time shifted programming between 6am and 11.30pm each day. Some programs such as news and sports will not be aired on the new station.ABC News Article
ABC Asia Pacific
A new satellite television service for East Asia and the Pacific Islands, ABC Asia Pacific, was launched by the ABC in 2002. Commercially funded and carrying advertising, ABC Asia Pacific broadcasts a mixture of news, current affairs, entetainment, lifestyle and sport. This includes tailor-made news bulletins for the region, general entertainment, including the soap opera Home and Away, and also Australian Rules and Rugby League matches. The channel is received either directly via satellite, or on local cable networks.
Earlier in 1993, the ABC had launched a service for the region called Australia Television International (known as AusTV or ATVI). This was sold to the Seven Network in 1997, and later folded.
The ABC started as a network of twelve radio stations, and now includes five national networks, over fifty local radio stations, and a foreign language shortwave radio service. The twelve original stations are:
Today, some of these are part of ABC Local Radio, a succession of stations broadcasting light entertainment, talkback, and some current affairs and most popular with older audiences. Most others have joined the national network Radio National.
The national networks are:
- Triple J, a national youth radio network, broadcasting new alternative music from Australia and overseas;
- Radio National, a nationwide network devoted to intellectual discussion of politics, science, philosophy, the arts, literature, and the like;
- ABC Classic FM, a nationwide classical-music station; and
- ABC NewsRadio, previously called the Parliamentary News Network, a station chartered to broadcast the proceedings of federal Parliament, and is a 24-hours per day news station when parliament not in session.
The ABC's latest radio station, is internet and digital television only. Called DiG, the station has no announcers and is all music.
The ABC, through ABC Classic FM, a nationwide classical music network, has helped support the ABC owned state symphony orchestras, chamber music, instrumental recitals, opera, choral and solo singers. ABC Classic FM was the ABC's first FM service, as was originally known as "ABC FM". Its format borrowed heavily from community stations that eventually founded the Fine Music Network and also from BBC Radio 3.
The ABC also operates Radio Australia, the international shortwave service with transmissions aimed at East Asia and the Pacific Islands featuring programmes in various languages in these regions, including Mandarin, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Khmer language, and Tok Pisin. Radio Australia concentrates on news and current affairs, but it also features historical documentaries, information about Australian lifestyle and culture, and light entertainment. Radio Australia bulletins are also carried on the World Radio Network, which is available on satellite in Europe and North America.
The ABC's postal address is "[PO] Box 9994 in your Capital city" followed by the postcode.
It is a persistent urban myth that '9994' is in memory of the life-time test average cricket score (99.94, being 6996 in 70 completed innings) of the Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman. Supposedly, one-time Chairman of the ABC, Sir Charles Moses, arranged for this number to be used, however this has been denied by the ABC.
- The Alan McGillivray Solution
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