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Australia - TV

There are a number of options when it comes to television in Australia. There are three options for public broadcasters in the country. One of these is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Special Broadcasting Service and the National Indigenous Television service is a recent addition, but there are a range of satellite and regional television services which show a variety of programmes from around the world as well as Australian made programmes.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a number of channels which are available on a national basis including ABC1, ABC2, ABC3 and a 24 hour news channel. ABC1 has both national and local news, sports programmes, current affairs and a number of comedy and arts programmes. It broadcasts many programmes from the UK. ABC2 and ABC3 are digital channels and broadcast many Australian-made programmes.

The Special Broadcasting Service is for those who speak other languages at home. The channels show many films made in non-English speaking countries as well as some cult English language programmes. They also create documentaries and their own movies. They show sports programmes too although the focus is away from the popular Australian sports of rugby and cricket. There are 2 channels on this system. SBS One is shown on both digital and analogue services but SBS Two is a digital only channel.

The most recent addition to public TV broadcasting is National Indigenous Television which is funded by the government. This is broadcast on the Aurora satellite TV system and replaced the different community channels.

There are a number of license areas for commercial television areas and over the years these areas have been merged to form large districts. Metropolitan networks include the Seven Network, the Nine Network and Network 10. These often show similar types of programming and this covers a variety of drama, comedy, news and documentaries. Regional television services include Southern Cross Television, Prime Television, Southern Cross Ten, WIN Television and the Golden West Network. These often serve as an addition to the metropolitan networks. Some of these only show local news and weather, with very few other locally made programmes.

Satellite television options are varied and there are two different frequency bands. You may have C-Band satellite or KU Band. C Band satellite is usually a larger dish than KU. C Band satellite offers a number of free channels and there are many foreign language channels available. KU Band systems offers free channels and Pay TV channels and you require a smart card and subscription to receive these. In addition to these types of satellite receivers you can opt to subscribe to a SelecTV Pay TV service, which means that you can purchase a smart card and use it in an appropriate satellite receiver wherever you are. You can subscribe to this service without committing to a long-term contract. Optus TV is a satellite system that broadcasts Aurora. This is a group of channels which are free to air and can be viewed by those who have the appropriate equipment at no subscription charge.

Australia does not have a television licence system as this was abolished in the early 1970s and television programming is funded by a series of government grants. If you have a television set that was produced in the UK or the US then it is possible to convert them for use in Australia, but they cannot be simply plugged in and used. Some European sets can pick up channels through a VCR, although they are not able to accurately tune in without the VCR. US sets need a transformer for the electrical network and work on the set’s tuning system, so unless you are an enthusiast it may be easier to purchase an Australian set.

Foxtel is one of the main satellite providers and there are usually special offers for those who sign up online to be customers. This network is available to almost three quarters of all homes in Australia and there is a variety of packages available to suit all levels of usage. Optus digital pay TV is linked to the Foxtel services and a simple phone call is all that is required. You may be tied into a contract of a minimum of one year, depending upon the type of package that you opt for.

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