The 1950s 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
Early ATN-7 branding
capital city was to have two commercial licences granted; one to broadcast on VHF-7 and the other on VHF-9.
In Sydney, the VHF-7 licence was granted 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.
The following year saw the H&WT station in Melbourne get off the ground, in readiness 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 Melbournes first television broadcaster on Sunday, 4th November 1956.
Sydney, however, already had two television services on-air before the Fairfax group began broadcasting. The callsign became ATN, for Amalgamated Television (New South Wales), with the station being officially opened Sunday, 2nd December 1956.
Another ATN-7 ident
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 Dyers 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.
Two more channel 7 stations began operating in 1959; BTQ-7 Brisbane and TVW-7 Perth. The Governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner, officially opened Perths first television service, TVW-7, at 7.30pm on Friday, 16th October.