Monday, 12 September 2016

MILESTONE: TCN9 - Australia's first television channel (TCN9)

This week, television in Australia will turn 60 and this entry will focus on the channel which began it all - TCN9, which is part of the Nine Network.

In 1955, Television Corporation (owned by Sir Frank Packer) was one of two consortiums that were successfully awarded television licenses for Sydney. The other licencee Almagated Television Services would form ATN7 which began broadcasting in December 1956. The Packer family would own TCN9 until 2006 when as part of the Nine Network, it was sold to private equity firm CVC Asia.

After test transmissions from July 1956, TCN9 commenced regular programming on September 16, 1956. The first show "Welcome to Television" screened at 7pm and was hosted by Bruce Gyngell who uttered the lines "Good evening ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to television." It is believed that only 2000 homes had a television set at the time. Thousands, however, had to watch proceedings through shop windows that had TV Sets on display.

Reception stretched as far north as Newcastle and Cessnock, south to Wollongong and west to Katoomba. These days you would need a booster aerial in Newcastle to receive Sydney television stations.

During this early period, TV Broadcasts were generally in the evening. On opening night, transmission closed at around 9:15 pm. Here is a clipping from Page 8 of The Sunday Telegraph on September 16, 1956.

Below are some clippings from The Daily Telegraph dating to September 17 and 18 1956 which was also owned by Sir Frank Packer and took advantage to show off his new toy.