"Broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community..."
—The ABC Charter
"Few Australian institutions excite such passionate attachments as the ABC (which may be why those who think Australia does not need a public broadcaster are so relentless in their criticism of it)."
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation
provides the oldest national TV service in Australia. It began in 1929 as the Australian Broadcasting Company,note
a national public radio service that tried to be like the The BBC
Since its nationalisation on 1 July 1932, the ABC has always tried to bring the same service to all Australians, first on radio and later on TV. Not an easy task, considering how remote every town and city is. However, it has paid off — it is currently the only national radio service, and has consistently maintained its position as Australia's most trusted media service.
While the ABC has always played second fiddle to commercial radio in Australia, it still maintains an important role on the country's radio dial and currently runs five radio services:
- ABC Local Radio (its programming is actually divided between local, statewide and nationwide)
- Radio National (the only Australian radio station that still runs "serious" programming)
- ABC NewsRadio
- ABC Classic FM (one of the first FM services in Australia)
- Triple J (the "youth" station, and the only radio service that can play the F word in the afternoon)
The ABC is currently coming third in TV ratings. The three commercial networks each had higher viewership than the ABC for years until it overtook Network Ten
Specifically because it doesn't worry about ratings, the ABC takes care of a lot of public remit programming ranging from indigenous programming and religious shows to sessions of Parliament and current-affairs shows to hours and hours' worth of kids' shows. As a result, it holds a special place in many Aussies' hearts. Its news and current-affairs service makes the commercial networks look like amateurs. Its dedication to children's television means that millions of Aussies grew up in front of the ABC. Its production of a variety of esoteric programmes (Collectors
, Gardening Australia
, Media Watch
, and Message Stick
) would not have even run, let alone become successful, on Aussie commercial TV. This all makes it essentially a showcase of Australian television production. It also has a lot
of British programming... possibly more than many channels in Britain.
Of course, it's not all nice and fuzzy. Ever since Australia got rid of the license fee (we had a license fee?), the ABC's budget has been depressingly meagre, meaning that while it provides a wide range of Aussie programming, many TV shows can afford little more than sets and people — so be prepared for any ABC comedy or light-entertainment show to joke about this. Also, because many of its shows (especially comedies) push the envelope and are often offensive, it receives the ire of many conservative groups complaining about how their taxes are paying for filth. Some conservative Aussies also complain that the ABC also has a bias toward the Labor Party, while some left-wing Aussies complain the ABC has a pro-Liberal bias. Former ABC journalists have run for both parties, the matter is contested, and we'll leave it at that
Despite these problems, the ABC is still well-loved in Australia, and a vast amount of Australiana has come from the ABC over the years. For a list of shows that aired on the ABC, look at the list of Australian Television Shows
and choose every other one. That
is how influential the ABC has been.
The ABC broadcasts four different television channels altogether:
- ABC1, formerly simply known as ABC-TV: the original channel.
- ABC2, launched March 2005. Since May 2011 it has had a programming block from 6 AM to 7 PM which is branded like a separate channel named ABC 4 Kids, aimed at pre-school children.
- ABC3, launched December 2009: Australia's only free-to-air channel purely for children, aimed at a slightly older audience than ABC 4 Kids. Perhaps inevitably, it became the channel most-watched by Australian kids, and produced a few smash-hits such as Dance Academy.
- ABC News 24, launched July 2010: the only Australian free-to-air 24-hour news network, known for extending the ABC's respected journalistic repertoire (if on an absolutely tiny budget).
The ABC also has an online service for watching its content called iview
, which includes some web-exclusive content. Like comparable services in other countries, such as BBC iPlayer, iview can only be viewed in its country of origin
Two of the network's defunct TV channels are ABC Kids and Fly TV: both children's channels, which aired from 2001 to 2003. They have now effectively been replaced by the ABC 4 Kids block and ABC3, respectively.
The ABC also runs an international feed available on select Pay TV providers worldwide, first under the name ABC International
then Australia Network
and lately, Australia Plus TV
Not to be confused with the American Broadcasting Company
or with the Japanese network Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (TV Asahi
's Osaka affiliate), which both have the same abbreviations. Likewise the now long-defunct British ITV
station ABC Weekend Television.
Programs originating on The ABC:
- Anything that originated on ABC3