ABC TV at Gore Hill in the Fifties

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Extract from the ABC’s 24th Annual Report to the Postmaster-General:

TELEVISION

Preparations for the establishment of the national television service have gone steadily forward throughout the year in close co-operation with the Postmaster General’s Department and in accordance with the Government’s directive of September 10, 1954, which appointed the ABC as the authority to provide the programmes for the national television service and was embodied in the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-56, proclaimed to commence on July lst, 1956. In both Sydney and Melbourne work began on the erection of studios and detailed arrangements were completed with overseas manufacturers for the delivery of studio technical equipment.

A good deal of time has been devoted to the training of production personnel to ensure that from the outset we shall be able to present the maximum number of live programmes with Australian artists that available studios and technical Facilities will permit. The BBC readily arranged for enrolment of members of our staff at their various training courses throughout the year, and those officers who completed these courses--many of them having travelled overseas at their own expense-were able on their return to assist at the TV training school established by the ABC in Sydney.


Rudy Bretz, U.S.A. television expert, with live "puppets" at ABC Television Workshop


After a series of basic familiarisation courses attended by members of the staff drawn from all departments, the first advanced training workshop was held in April under the direction of Mr. Rudy Bretz, an American TV expert with a world-wide reputation as a teacher of TV production techniques. Basic TV training was also provided for officers from the Meteorological Bureau, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Immigration.

During this training period the opportunity was taken to rehearse a wide variety of programmes ranging from dramatic productions and puppet shows for children to discussions on social and economic problems, news bulletins and weather reports.

At the Royal Melbourne Show in September 1955, TV demonstrations were presented from the ABC's studio and on each day of the Royal Agricultural Society's Sydney Show in March and April special programmes were transmitted to receiving sets displayed by leading manufacturers in various pavilions within the Showgrounds.



Dutch singer, Mikie Maas, at ABC-TV studio, Sydney Royal Show

During the year several senior officers from the Programme and Technical divisions were sent abroad to study the practices and organisation of overseas TV services, especially the BBC and CBC, and to arrange for the supply of film of news material and general interest programmes.

Negotiations have continued for the hiring of TV films from overseas producers and Government agencies and several agreements have been finalised. From the BBC we have arranged to take the best of the programme material that can be released for use in Australia; this includes a large number of documentary films, including, the highly acclaimed series " War in the Air," together with a number of specially devised children's programmes.

We have endeavoured, as far as possible, to encourage local film producers to make films for television on Australian subjects, and with this aim a contract was signed with Mr. Charles Chauvel one of the pioneers of Australian film making giving the ABC the Australian rights to a series of half-hour film programmes under the title " This is Australia." The BBC has acquired the U.K. rights. Material for this series is now being filmed by Mr. Chauvel in the Northern Territory and the first programmes will be televised early in 1957.

Recruitment of non-technical staff has begun in both Sydney and Melbourne and negotiations are proceeding with Actors' Equity and the Musicians' Union regarding the terms and conditions which will apply to the engagement of members of these Unions for TV programmes.


Source : Twenty-Fourth Annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Year Ended June 30, 1956