In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Australian Broadcasting

  • Introduction
  • Overviews
  • Archives, Research Agencies, and Reference Works
  • Scholarly Journals
  • Radio History
  • Television History
  • Business of Broadcasting
  • Public Broadcasters
  • Licensed Broadcasters
  • Indigenous Broadcasting
  • Major Figures
  • Regulatory Foundations
  • Work, Representation, and Diversity
  • Audiences: Watching, Listening, and Participating
  • Programming: Drama, Comedy, Reality, and Children’s
  • Programming: Australian and Local
  • International Broadcasting and Transnational Exchange

Cinema and Media Studies Australian Broadcasting
Jock Given
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0306


Australians in major cities were able to listen to radio in the early 1920s soon after similar services began in other parts of the world. They waited longer for television (1956) and multichannel subscription television (1995), then began downloading and streaming audio and video as soon as the Internet and mobile devices enabled it. This article presents items that explore Australian broadcasting’s histories, transformations, and potential futures. Overviews place the field in wider contexts. The sections Archives, Research Agencies, and Reference Works and Scholarly Journals identify some of the major sources of records and research. Radio History and Television History explore broadcasting’s origins, and the sources cited under Business of Broadcasting explore the ways it raises its revenues and is structured as an industry. The institutions of Australian broadcasting are covered in Public Broadcasters, Licensed Broadcasters, and Indigenous Broadcasting. Some of the people who have built and starred in radio and TV can be found in the section Major Figures. The sources in Regulatory Foundations explain the constitutional and legal framework for the rules that regulate broadcasters: the sources under New Broadcasting Services, Ownership, and Control cover the policy and laws that shape the structure of the radio and television industries. The works under Work, Representation, and Diversity look at the distance between Australians and the representations and workplaces created for them by Australian broadcasters. Studies of broadcast audiences are included under Audiences: Watching, Listening, and Participating. The next three sections are about the programs Australian broadcasters make, commission, and broadcast. The penultimate section, International Broadcasting and Transnational Exchange, provides global context. Lastly, the sources under After Broadcasting contemplate endings and beginnings. The author wishes to thank Rosemary Curtis for her exceptional research assistance on this bibliography.


These items place Australian broadcasting in wider contexts. Ang 2009 considers Australia in the television world and national television cultures across different eras. Moran 1992 also spans many decades, from the time when broadcasting meant radio to a moment when it meant television as well, but just before both began to be transformed by online and mobile media. Barr 1985, Mayer and Tiffen 1994, and Simons 2007 link broadcasting to the wider media and communications industries that preceded and followed it: print, telecommunications, and digital media. Cunningham and Turnbull 2014 describes and analyzes these industries and the expanding range of policy issues they raise. Harding 1979 situates broadcasting amid politics and democracy. Tulloch and Turner 1989 and O’Regan 1993 are television studies collections and early Australian examples of the subdiscipline that evolved to meet broadcasting’s demand for political, economic, legal, and policy analysis as well as textual criticism.

  • Ang, Ien. “From Dallas to SBS: The Popular, the Global and the Diverse on Television.” Henry Mayer Lecture 2009. Media International Australia 131 (May 2009): 6–15.

    DOI: 10.1177/1329878X0913100103

    Ang was a migrant in the Netherlands when she wrote Watching Dallas and again in Australia when she co-wrote Ang, et al. 2009 (cited under Public Broadcasters) a quarter century later. That personal experience shaped her relationship with the “quintessentially national medium” of broadcast television. This lecture connects the two projects, interpreting the global rise of American television as “a form of de facto cosmopolitanisation of national television cultures” and the SBS as “an altogether different, internal cosmopolitanisation of Australia’s television culture” (p. 7).

  • Barr, Trevor. The Electronic Estate: New Communications Media and Australia. Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1985.

    One of the first books that explicitly linked Australia’s broadcasting and other media industries to the information technology industry within a wider “information economy” (pp. 13–26). Published as a domestic satellite system was being established, which had profound implications for broadcasting and telecommunications. Barr contrasted the largely domestically owned commercial media conglomerates that had emerged from family-owned newspaper businesses, with the mainly foreign-owned information technology industry. Australia’s “information revolution.” he said, was “imported” (p. 14).

  • Cunningham, Stuart, and Sue Turnbull, eds. The Media and Communications in Australia. 4th ed. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2014.

    Effectively the fifth edition of a textbook widely used in undergraduate courses, first published in the early 1990s as The Media in Australia, co-edited with Graeme Turner. Twenty-seven chapters by Australian scholars are divided into three parts covering analytical approaches, industries, and issues. Latest edition is considerably expanded to include social media, “social selves,” celebrity culture, ethics, apps, environmental media, crisis communications, and content classification.

  • Harding, Richard. Outside Interference: The Politics of Australian Broadcasting. South Melbourne, Australia: Sun Books, 1979.

    Account of the 1970s, an especially tumultuous period for Australian media, written by a law professor appointed as an ABC commissioner three weeks before the Whitlam Government was dismissed in late 1975. Harding argued “Broadcasting is democracy’s thermometer, a good indicator of the political and social health of the nation. . . . During the 1970s, the thermometer has been unsteady; and so has the state of Australian democracy” (p. vii).

  • Mayer, Henry, and Rodney Tiffen, eds. Mayer on the Media: Issues and Arguments. St. Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1994.

    A collection of “seminal writings” by Henry Mayer, who, says Tiffen, “more than any other developed Australian political and media studies” (p. viii). The pieces reflect Mayer’s wide interests in media issues such as diversity, control, accountability, and censorship. They include two on cable television, which was much debated in the 1970s and 1980s but not introduced in Australia until after Mayer’s death in 1991.

  • Moran, Albert, ed. Stay Tuned: The Australian Broadcasting Reader. North Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1992.

    A collection of “some of the most interesting, suggestive and intelligent [mainly recent] pieces” (p. xiv) about Australian radio and TV, the first “synoptic view” of Australian broadcasting since the 1950s. Emphasizes institutions and history rather than programs. Covers five periods, from the 1920s, when “competing and conflicting definitions of radio” (p. 3) circulated, through the golden age of radio, television, “radio in the age of television” (p. 77) and “the Future.”

  • O’Regan, Tom. Australian Television Culture. St. Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1993.

    Collection of essays about “policy, regulation, politics, criticism, industry and programs” and the “sites [that] mould Australia’s television culture” (p. xix). Includes pieces about Australia’s “high communications policy” and the rise and crash that followed changes to ownership rules in the 1980s, two essays about the SBS jointly written with Dona Kolar-Panov and one about Aboriginal television culture jointly written with Philip Batty.

  • Simons, Margaret. The Content Makers: Understanding the Media in Australia. Camberwell, Australia: Penguin Books, 2007.

    Accessible book about “where the media is at, where it might be going, and why this matters” (p. xiv) published just after restrictions on cross-ownership of TV, radio, and newspapers were liberalized but while Facebook was still young. Partly a personal story by an experienced journalist and author searching “for a good way forward” (p. xiii). Sections cover historical context, Australia’s main media organizations and business models, journalism, media owners, and government.

  • Tulloch, John, and Graeme Turner, eds. Australian Television: Programs, Pleasures & Politics. North Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1989.

    The first of a series of books and journal issues exploring Australian TV through the approaches and methods of “television studies.” Moran’s chapter identifies three stages of Australian TV and O’Regan’s explores the convergence of TV and film. Other chapters explore particular programs, such as Prisoner, and genres such as science, quizzes, documentary, variety, children’s programs, and historical miniseries, as well as scheduling, flow, segmentation, interstitial content, and audiences.

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