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1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

The 1950’s were the beginning for television in Australia, and saw the opening of four new commercial TV stations broadcasting on the VHF-7 frequency, in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. At first however, the fact these four separate operations used the same channel number had no influence on the network affiliations that were taking place across state borders.

It was a long time in the pipeline, but in 1955 the government finally started granting television licences to organisations that could show they had the required amount of financial backing to set-up and operate a television station. In addition to the ABC, each major capital city was to have two commercial licences granted; one to broadcast on VHF-7 and the other on VHF-9.

ATN 'Good Night' closer
Early ATN-7 branding

In Sydney, the VHF-7 licence was granted in April 1955 to Amalgamated Television Services, which had been set-up by Fairfax. Further south in Melbourne, The Herald & Weekly Times Group (H&WT), publishers of The Sun-News Pictorial, The Herald and The Weekly Times, were the successful recipients of the channel 7 frequency on April 18, 1955.

The following year saw the H&WT station in Melbourne get off the ground, in time for the Melbourne Olympic Games. It was decided the callsign for the television station would be HSV, standing for Herald Sun (Victoria). Studios were built in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne, and test transmissions were begun in July. The first broadcast occurred on the night of 26th September, with Olympic coverage following. The station was officially launched as Melbourne’s first television broadcaster on Sunday, 4th November 1956.
HSV-7 Melbourne


North in Sydney however, two television services were already on-air before the Fairfax group began broadcasting. The callsign became ATN, for Amalgamated Television (New South Wales), and the station was officially opened Sunday, 2nd December 1956. A severe thunderstorm almost cut the station off-air on opening night, as rain leaked through the roof and played havoc with the already limited operational equipment.

The initial transmission tower for ATN was built at Gore Hill, near the ABC's, but was replaced with a taller one at Artarmon in 1960.


Another ATN-7 ident


Bob Dyer (left) and contestant

It was not long before the stations began to form affiliations. In 1957 ATN-7 teamed up with GTV-9 Melbourne, and HSV-7 aligned itself with TCN-9 Sydney. One of the first programmes to be shared over the new network was the gameshow Bob Dyer’s Pick-A-Box, which ran on ATN/GTV.

Towards the end of the decade a coaxial cable link was established between Sydney and Melbourne, making programme sharing easier and reducing the need for shows to be couriered from city to city.

ATN/GTV's Pick-A-Box


The first Victorian Football League (now AFL) match to be broadcast live on HSV was done at 4.15pm on April 20, 1957. This began a huge association between the VFL and Seven, which lasted mostly unchallenged until the 21st century.

Two more channel 7 stations began operating in 1959; TVW-7 Perth and BTQ-7 Brisbane. The Governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner, officially opened Perth’s first television service, TVW-7, at 7.30pm on Friday, 16th October. BTQ-7 was the second television station to arrive on-air in Brisbane, officially opening on Sunday, November 1, 1959.

Continue to the 60's »

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