GTV - History


GTV was amongst the first television stations to begin regular transmission in Australia. Test transmissions began on 27 September 1956, introduced by former 3DB radio announcer Geoff Corke, based at the Dandenong transmitter, as the studios in Richmond were not yet ready. The station was officially opened on 19 January 1957 by Victorian Governor Sir Dallas Brooks from the studios in Bendigo Street, Richmond. A clip from the ceremony has featured in a number of GTV retrospectives, in which the Governor advises viewers that if they did not like the programs, they could just turn off.

The Richmond building, bearing the name Television City, had been converted from a Heinz tinned food factory, also occupied in the past by the Wertheim Piano Company (from 1908–1935). A cornerstone, now visible from the staff canteen courtyard, was laid when construction of the Piano factory began.

Soon after the station's launch, Eric Pearce was appointed to read the news, a position held for almost twenty years. In 1957, GTV-9's first large-scale production was the nightly variety show In Melbourne Tonight ("IMT"), hosted by Graham Kennedy. Kennedy was a radio announcer at 3UZ in Melbourne before being 'discovered' by GTV-9 producer Norm Spencer, when appearing on a GTV telethon. Bert Newton moved from HSV-7 to join Kennedy. IMT continued for thirteen years, dominating Melbourne's television scene for most of that time. It set a precedent for a number of subsequent live variety programmes from the station.

Ownership has changed over the decades. The station was first licensed to the General Television Corporation Ltd., a consortium of two newspapers, The Argus and The Age, together with cinema chains Hoyts, Greater Union, Sir Arthur Warner's Electronic Industries, JC William's Theatres, Cinesound Productions, and radio stations 3XY, 3UZ, 3KZ. In early 1957 The Argus was acquired by The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, and the paper was closed on the same day that GTV officially opened. The Herald in turn sold its interests in the station to Electronic Industries, later acquired by UK television manufacturer Pye, in 1960. Because of the restriction on foreign ownership of television stations, GTV-9 was then sold to Frank Packer's Australian Consolidated Press, which already owned TCN-9 in Sydney, resulting in the formation of the country's first commercially owned television network. Prior to this GTV-9 was affiliated with ATN-7 in Sydney. Son Clyde Packer ran the network for some time, until a falling out led to a handover to younger son Kerry Packer. In the 1980s the network was sold to Alan Bond, but later bought back at a much lower price. Following the death of Kerry Packer, his son James Packer progressively sold down his stake in the network. (See also Publishing and Broadcasting Limited.)

Along with most Australian TV stations, GTV-9 commenced colour test transmissions in October, 1974. The official changeover took place at 12.00am on Saturday 1 March 1975. In 1976 GTV became the first Melbourne television station to commence permanent 24 hour transmission. In 2001 the station commenced digital television broadcasting, in line with most other metropolitan stations. GTV continued broadcasting in analogue on VHF9, with a digital simulcast on VHF8.

In 2010 it was announced to public and then staff, that after 54 years at Bendigo Street, GTV9 would move day to day operations including News and commercial sales to 717 Bourke Street, Docklands. On 25 October 2010, it was announced that GTV9 would begin producing larger scale studio productions, such as The Footy Show, Hey Hey its Saturday, and Millionaire Hotseat from the new Docklands Studios Melbourne.. On 28 February 2011, GTV9 broadcast its final live program - the 6pm edition of Nine News - from the Richmond studios, and the following day began broadcasting news bulletins from 717 Bourke Street. Also while their new fiber link to their transmission site was being completed, a temporary DVB-S2 link was put up on Optus D1, which ceased at the end of the year. In 2012, no new programming has been produced out of the new studios. The network opted to move ACA to its Sydney studios and the Block is also expected to make the move back to Sydney in 2013.

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