The Community Channel and the Cable TV Trial
(Part 1).

In 1992 representatives of Telstra Corporation, Australia's largest and then entirely government-owned telco, approached Metro TV (now Metro Screen), a media access and training facility is the Paddington Town Hall, Sydney, to carry out local community-based management of a channel on the Centennial Park Residential Video (Cable TV) Trial. The Channel launched on 31 October 1993 and ceased operations in late 1995 due to the sale of the cable system to Foxtel, a joint venture whose lead partners were Telstra and Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network.

This site provides an archive of material related to the operation of the Community Channel as part of the trial.

Below is the text of a Community Channel information pamphlet detailing
the background to the cable TV (residential video) trial distributed to
residents, volunteers, government in the second year of the trial, 1994.

Background To The Cable TV Trial

For nearly one year Telecom Australia has been carrying out a trial of residential cable TV in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. It has been delivered free to 300 homes or approximately 1,000 residents. When the trial ends a range of subscription fees will be introduced as the metropolitan fibreoptic/coaxial cable system 'rolls out' (is extended).

Services include ten or so retransmitted channels from existing services sourced from Australia and overseas. They are ABC, SBS, CNN (world news), Worldnet (US public affairs and cultural material), NASA Select, with news from the NASA space program, The Community Channel and others. The Community Channel is locally originated and cablecast from the Paddington Town Hall.

The trial is continually assessed by the residents, Telecom and government. Information gathered from this trial will be used to assist in the development of larger projects with the roll out of the cable system over the next few years to be an Australia-wide system, similar to that used in the US. These future cable services will be targeted locally, State-wide, nationally or internationally. This will be achieved through 'hybrid' delivery systems: a mixture of cable, free-to-air, microwave and satellite.

The Cable TV Trial is wholly distinct from the free-to-air sixth TV channel.

Cable TV, with many more channels, will be available soon, initially to built up suburbs in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, with 150,000 homes passed by cable by the end of 1994.

The Community Channel

For Metro Television, the primary focus of the trial is the operation of a demonstration community, cultural and educational non profit (CCEN) service called the Community Channel within the cable TV trial in collaboration with Telecom. Residents, community-based groups, volunteers, independent film and videomakers and other interested parties are involved in making programs and in organising broadcasting 7 days a week.

The Community Channel is a community development project undertaken by Metro Television and has been important in influencing the way in which cable broadcast technology is configured and used by communities, institutions and industry. Because of the success of the trial local communities in built up areas can now have their own local nonprofit cable channel as part of the cable system.

We broadcast around four hours of programs each day of local news, arts, history, education and training, youth programming, independent films and videos and other kinds of innovative programming ideas. As more material becomes available broadcast times will become longer. Involved in the project are residents, community TV groups, local schools, the State Library, Sydney University, Open Training and Education Network (OTEN), the College of Fine Arts, and others.

Activities of the locally originated Community Channel are:

acquisition of already produced program material
compilation and editing together of existing material
production of new material including locally made programs, local sponsorship announcements and menu and notice board services
scheduling programs that are transmitted via the Uninet cable system between Sydney universities.

Sponsorship for this service is sought from small and local business groups and other sources as there is not yet any direct financial support for program material production or purchase. Sponsors can purchase a sponsorship announcement, sponsor a program, or can sponsor the overall service. It is intended that when sponsorship or other support can be gained, particularly in the next stage of the roll-out, then program producers and suppliers can be paid for their material. Tax deductible donations can be made to support the service.

Community, cultural and educational non profit (CCEN) services using cable TV is a fundamental part of the Australian information infrastructure required to take all Australians into the next century. These CCEN services are an important information and cultural exchange platform that can provide services to communities that existing and planned television services cannot fully provide. The Community Channel is an opportunity to develop a dynamic complimentary and supplementary range of services to existing commercial and government services.

We broadcast seven days a week.

What the Community Channel Needs

› Program material - The Community Channel needs ideas and programs: shorts, dramas, youth programs, schools shows, educational programs, documentaries, comedy series, music, live interviews, news and current affairs and other programs. Other community TV groups, like CTV-1 in Redfern, work with the Community Channel to present programs.

› Volunteers - are needed for organising, fundraising, program production groups, and other activities. Everyone is welcome to attend the regular Saturday morning meetings and get involved. The Channel particularly needs people with cameras and other equipment. Already in production are: Kaleidoscope (arts program), In Point (news and current affairs), Kids and Story (children's authors and books), Underground Rockit (independent music), a short film and video program, and many others.

How to get Involved?

Residents, volunteers and other interested parties are invited to either come to the information meetings held the first Saturday of each month at Metro TV in the Paddington Town Hall at 11.00 a.m., or ring the below number for more information.

Contact the Community Channel on: Phone/Fax: (02) 360 7417 or write to: The Community Channel, PO Box 414, Paddington NSW 2021.

We acknowledge the assistance of Telecom Australia, the Australian Film Commission, the NSW Film and Television Office, the Council of the City of South Sydney, local residents, our volunteers and all our supporters.

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TV History is a production of 3V 1993-2003