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The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
vol. 4 no 2 (1991)
Television and ...Edited by John Hartley
In 1961 when the future Minister for Science, Barry Jones, was a bachelor Victorian schoolteacher, he came to public notice as a quiz contestant on Bob Dyer's TV quiz show Pick A Box. Some time into his champion run, winning prize after prize, Jones was asked by Dyer the seemingly innocuous and straightforward question - who was the first Governor-General of India. The question and its answer have become legendary, inevitably turning up in TV's own tribute to itself on the occasion of its many birthdays (10 years, 20 years, 25 years and 30 years of age). Demonstrating an encyclopedic knowledge of white colonialism in India, the ability to think very quickly as well as the knack of having his tongue keep pace with his brain, Jones proceeded to cleave open the question: India did not exist as a political entity until the twentieth century; the British held colonial power in Bengal from the eighteenth century onwards; the King's representative there was the Viceroy not the Governor-General; and so on. Genial Bob Dyer looked dazed and the unseen adjudicator George Black was stumped. What seemed simple and obvious was more tangled and complicated than it first appeared. Jones had muddied the waters.
My purpose in this article is similar. Television is said to have started in Australia in 1956. For example, the back page of Peter Beilby's Australian TV has presented the familiar icon reproduction of a poor definition black and white photograph of a dinner-suited Bruce Gyngell in that founding moment. This image suggests a nice, clean start, a big bang, so to speak, much in fact like the way that some scientists believe marked the beginnings of the universe.
I want to cast doubt on this idea of a neat, clean beginning for Australian TV. The untidy reality is that there are a series of different candidates for the honour of the first program and the first face. Further problems can be raised around the term Australian in the phrase 'Australian television'. Questions around the notion of the TV audience also cloud the issue of what happened when.
My local (Brisbane) Australian Broadcasting Tribunal Officer, Bill Gibson, once informed a class of mine that the Tribunal's first chair, Bruce Gyngell (a very flamboyant and charismatic personality, added Bill) was the first face seen on Australian TV. There are certainly no lack of supporters for this view. For example, the caption accompanying Peter Beilby's icon of TV's beginnings reads: "15 September, 1956. The host is Bruce Gyngell in dinner suit and carnation. Australian television is born". An obvious typesetting mistake has occurred here because the date intended and mentioned elsewhere in the book is the 16th September. The metaphor of a birth is also implicitly questioned by information elsewhere in the book. There are in fact three important dates in 1956 and all of them concern TCN Channel 9 Sydney. 1 The dates and events, according to the Beilby book, are as follows:
On the face of it, it is a little odd why the second date is the one chosen as marking the beginnings of Australian TV. The first and the third would seem here to have equal claim. For the moment, I will postpone consideration of these - I want to promote some other candidates for the title of 'first'. The instances marshalled here are not necessarily exhaustive. Television test transmissions in Australia were recorded as early as 1935 when an experimental image of the windmill weather observatory in Brisbane was televised over a short distance. 2 No doubt a bit more digging would uncover more candidates. However, the following are sufficient for my purposes.
As early as 1953, the Macquarie radio group, with headquarters in Sydney, had signalled its intention of investing heavily in TV. Clive Ogilvie, Macquarie's managing director, formed a consortium of newspaper interests (The Sydney Morning Herald and London Associated Newspapers) and commercial radio licensees (Sydney stations 2GB, 2UE and 2UW) and manufacturing interests (Amalgamated Wireless Australia) and appeared on behalf of the consortium as well as Macquarie itself at the Royal Commission's hearing on TV held in Sydney on 23 June 1953. The Royal Commission was not a hearing to determine who would get commercial TV licenses in the different capital cities although several witnesses behaved as though it was. Ogilvie was no exception. In his evidence, he unveiled an elaborate plan. If the Macquarie network was given a TV license, or a set of licenses for individual member stations, existing Macquarie radio stations would convert to dual purpose transmission, radio and TV, under the same roof. To keep production costs down, Ogilvie anticipated that many existing radio programs could be simulcast as radio and TV.
Later in the hearing and with the object of demonstrating how quickly and easily radio programs could be adapted to TV, Ogilvie screened a film of a Jack Davey quiz program Ask Me Another. This program had been filmed by Fox Movietone in the Macquarie Theatre in Phillip Street, Sydney. The program ran for 16.5 minutes although the filming had taken 2.5 hours.
The reaction of the Commissioners and those others present at the screening has not been recorded. No doubt they were surprised and curious at the phenomenon of the visualisation of what until that point had only been an aural experience. Nobody, so far as I know, has suggested that this was the first TV program in Australia but Ask Me Another certainly has some grounds for this candidacy. It certainly was a TV pilot program, the problem is that it was never transmitted to the public and was seen only by a small handful of people.
The Commission rejected Ogilvie's scheme and from 1955 on Macquarie's involvement in the consortium, by then calling itself Amalgamated Television Services, was gradually reduced. Neither Ogilvie nor Ask Me Another gained a foothold in the new medium although Macquarie and Jack Davey did gain a brief one. Between late 1956 and the end of 1957, ATN Channel 7 Sydney's chief program supplier was Macquarie. Early in 1957 ATN began simulcasting eight radio shows from the Macquarie Auditorium. These featured what ATN publicity called the Five D's of Radio: Jack Davey (Give It A Go, The Dulux Show and The Pressure Pax Show), Bob Dyer (It Pays To Be Funny and Pick A Box), Terry Dean (Leave It To The Girls), Harry Dearth (Pantomime Show) and John Dease (Quiz Show Kids). Within a year only Dyer's Pick A Box was still on the air and soon the sponsors, Colgate Palmolive, severed the program's links with radio. Thus ended the first experiment in simulcasting.
This first simulcasting of the Macquarie radio programs represented the addition of visual images to well-known sound. It's worth briefly pointing to one crucial difference between this simulcasting in the 1950s and simulcasting as it has developed in the last 10 or 15 years. John Caughie once speculated that TV is linked to radio in a way similar to that in which the silent film period - to 1926 - is linked to the sound period. Just as the sound period in film mixed familiar images with new sounds, so the coming of TV introduced unfamiliar images to familiar radio sounds. With good reason this period of TV, here and elsewhere, has been described as radio with pictures. Sound in the recent present, by contrast, works in the opposite way. Here the viewer is invited to silence the sound transmitted by their TV set in favour of the high quality stereo sound provided by FM radio. In other words in this incarnation of simulcasting, TV images are what is familiar while high quality FM sound from a radio source is that which is unfamiliar.
Somewhere about the same time that Macquarie filmed the Jack Davey quiz program, another Sydney radio group - Grace Gibson Productions - produced a pilot program for a drama series. Gibson was an American who first came to Australia in 1941 as a representative of an American radio transcription distributor. She was subsequently employed by the Macquarie network but left to form her own radio drama packaging company. Her company soon became the largest packager of radio drama in Sydney. In the early 1950s, with a TV service imminent, the company tried to get a foot in the door by producing a pilot for a private detective series, mostly using an Australian cast and crew but focussing on an American hero and using an American writer and director. The company hoped that those latter ingredients and Gibson's own business connections in the United States would enable the series to sell on both sides of the Pacific.
I Found Joe Barton was a half-hour black and white film pilot for a would be series about an American born private investigator, Al Munch, living and working in Sydney. 3 Indeed, the intended series had the title The Adventures of Al Munch and I Found Joe Barton was the episode title. From the look of the pilot episode, Munch himself (played by Charles Tingwell with a reasonable American accent), was probably to be the only continuing element in the series. He is without an office, a secretary or other investigators and frequents no restaurants or bars.
The episode in question is a reasonable stab at the TV crime genre. Joe Barton is an American crime figure long thought to be dead but who is now said to be alive in Australia. A Hollywood film producer, Frankof, has made a film of his life but needs a clearance from Barton before he can release it. He engages Munch to arrange this and in turn Munch contracts a lawyer, Timothy O'Leary, to contact Barton. O'Leary is murdered and Munch almost killed before he unmasks Barton who he then hands over to the police to face trial for O'Leary's murder. The episode orders this story material into a plot of 13 segments organised linearly across a day, night and a day although it does not signal this time span as necessarily being as short as 36 hours. Several of the segments are short introductory, concluding or transitional passages and some of these contain the voice-over of the private investigator: "That's what happens. In my work there's all kinds of jobs. But down here an American has to be careful which kind of job he gets tangled up with. Australia is like anywhere else. There are all kinds of people".
This voice-over is no surprise. I have argued elsewhere that this kind of authoritative voice-over commentary is very common in documentary films in the 1950s. 4 Voice-over is a very common feature in the detective genre where it is common practice to restrict the knowledge of the viewer across the narrative, frequently by tying the viewer's access to events and information to that of the detective. Thirdly voice-over was a staple element in radio drama and it is not surprising, given the origin of the production company, that this element is operative. (The early American TV detective series Dragnet, starring Jack Webb - which had begun life as a NBC radio series - also featured a voice-over of the central figure, Sergeant Joe Friday.) Finally the voice-over was an important ingredient in the potential sales of the series in that it is a means of addressing an American TV audience. This is nowhere more obvious than at the beginning of the episode:
Yes, That's Sydney - the big town down under. As big as Los Angeles. It's quite a place. You'd like it. During the war there were a lot of GIs here. I was one of them. The only thing different about me is - I'm still here. My name's Al Munch. I manage to keep pretty busy. I'll give you an example.
As is clear from this prologue and implicated throughout, the episode exploits a well-known formula of similarity and difference. This strategy of similarity to Hollywood conventions with a controlled amount of difference is by no means original to I Found Joe Barton. It marks Australian film and TV production from as early as 1910 down to the present and indeed was a hallmark of Barton's assistant director Lee Robinson both in his film ventures with Chips Rafferty in the 1950s (The Phantom Stockman, King of the Coral Sea and so on) and in his later TV work with John MacCallum (Skippy and Boney among others). In the case of this episode, the similarities to Hollywood formula - the elements that would make the program intelligible to its American audience - include such things as the lone wolf private detective, the seductive and ultimately treacherous woman (Florrie Barton), the murder of O'Leary, the attempt to sucker Munch, the inevitable suspicion and lack of help from the police, and a familiar mise en scene (Munch's bare apartment, a dingy bar, the waterfront, a lonely hut in bushland up the coast). The most handsome (and familiar) of the settings are some dark wet streets (probably in the Rocks area of Sydney) where O'Leary is swiftly and unceremoniously dispatched to an early grave and also where Munch meets the police. The scene is illuminated in familiar noir lighting and the action is nicely compressed. Australian differences are then hung, sometimes quite incongruously, on this skeleton. Frankoff, the fictional Hollywood producer who has made the film about Joe Barton and who employs Munch, has a pet koala in his room. When Munch sets out to rendezvous with Barton he goes not by bicycle or train but by boat setting out from where else but close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When he comes ashore to climb to the lonely hut, all of Australia's flora and fauna strives to be present. His rowboat passes a shark, sunning its teeth in the water. There are endless shots of Munch appearing in long shot, passing through gum trees, wild grasses and bush moving in closer to the camera only to cut to yet another shot of the figure moving in a variation of that path. A goanna and kangaroo make an appearance.
I Found Joe Barton is no disgrace to its producers. It is certainly not as tight as an early American series such as Dragnet but could probably hold its own against other early American series made before TV production shifted to Hollywood in the early 1950s. For example, on the basis of Eric Barnouw's description of the Ralph Bellamy detective series Man Against Crime, produced at CBS studios in New York between 1949 and 1951, there is no reason to assume that I Found Joe Barton/The Adventures of Al Munch could not hold its own as TV drama. 5 Probably what told against sales to American TV and the possibility of it going into series were the Australian accents.
There was little hope that any of the consortiums competing for the new Australian commercial TV licenses would commission a series from an outside packager. Far too much of their capital would be tied up with establishing their facilities, and they would inevitably gravitate towards live local broadcasts. To recoup some of their expenses, Grace Gibson Productions sold the episode to a small American TV distributor and it played as a one-off on independent TV stations in the United States. In Australia I Found Joe Barton was released as a cinema short and played in newsreel theatrettes, including the State Theatrette in Sydney. There is no indication that the audience at the theatrettes were aware that they were watching an early Australian TV program. The handsome cherubic face of Charles Tingwell would not become memorable for Australian TV audiences until the late 1950s when he began doctoring in the British series Emergency Ward 10 shown on ABC Television. Later still he would return to become one of Hector's Inspectors leading the last (and arguably the best) of the detective teams in Crawford Production's great stayer, Homicide.
The two cases discussed - Ask Me Another and I Found Joe Barton/The Adventures of Al Munch - were instances of programs which although made for TV were not televised. There were though other instances of TV transmissions before the alleged opening of Australian TV on 16 September 1956. The first of these occurred early the following year. The royal visit in 1954 of the new Queen, Elizabeth II, and her husband, saw some TV material being transmitted to a select audience. 6 At the request of several of the state committees organising the royal tour within their boundaries, the Postmaster General granted permission for Amalgamated Wireless Australasia to undertake a limited TV of certain parts of the tour. The exercise was clearly designed by AWA as a field test for its equipment and technicians. In addition while the public would not have access to the transmission, nevertheless news of it would reach the public, thus acting as an early advertisement for the TV service which would begin in 1956. The tour had a legitimacy that say, a race meeting or a football game, would not have. Finally, AWA and the Tour committees agreed that the audience too would have to have a legitimate reason for being allowed access to the transmission. The obvious answer was to beam the coverage to hospitals and centres for the handicapped. Thus selected patients in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane saw a televised series of august events such as the royal landing in Sydney Harbour, the royal ball and Parliament being opened by the Queen. The apparent public benevolence behind this arrangement would later be reincarnated in annual telethons run by commercial stations.
By 1956 the pace had quickened. More candidates for the title of 'first' appear on the TV scene. For example, in Sydney there were three such events around the eve of Friday 13 July when TCN 9 began regular test transmission (or broadcasting?). The regular transmission of test programs - documentaries and feature films - began early in August. The first figure in this part of my exhibit is Mrs Zina Chaplin. Mrs Chaplin, a Blue Ribbon Westinghouse Chef, went before the TV cameras in order to demonstrate Jones's Westinghouse Cooking Aids on Thursday, 12 July 1956, at 2.30 in Sydney retailer David Jones' George Street store. This demonstration was televised throughout the company's George and Market Street stores. Television sets arranged on different floors throughout the stores enabled customers to see Mrs Chaplin on screen. 7
About the same time on that Thursday, TCN Channel 9 had arranged a test demonstration for receiver manufacturers at its temporary studios in East Sydney. 8 The brief newspaper report on this demonstration contains no information on what was televised although with hindsight it is apparent that there was little available except test patterns and, perhaps, station identification cards. Nor is the reactions of the audience, i.e. the receiver manufacturers, recorded. No doubt they were interested to receive the test images and pleased that there would shortly be some program bait to persuade would-be customers to buy sets.
Perhaps too, it was on that eventful Thursday that Barry Smith (Barry who?) created a TV first - at least in his own mind - when he stepped before television cameras elsewhere in Sydney. Here is his own account:
July 1956. A young pimply-faced youth found himself standing before a Mitchell motion picture camera on a sound stage in the Sydney suburb of Pagewood. In his left hand the script of a 20 second commercial for tinned braised steak and onions. His left hand is shakingly grasping a stop watch. The youth is me and this is the beginning of TV. 9
The best guide to what actually happened at TCN Channel 9 on the three dates in 1956 already mentioned, is the Sydney Daily Telegraph, owned by Frank Packer's Consolidated Press, the then largest shareholder in the TV station (within a few years Packer would gain overall control of the station). The Daily Telegraph celebrates not one but three beginnings for TV in Australia. 10 Each event had certain features that allowed the Telegraph to claim it as a first. Later the Telegraph reiterated TCN's claim to have started Australian TV: "On Friday television history was made by TCN 9 Sydney". 11
"Television has arrived". So ran the lead story on page one of the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, 14 July 1956. A photograph showed a group of drinkers in a hotel with a TV set on a ledge. The caption read:
In the bar of the Bell's Hotel, Woolloomooloo, kept by former world champion Jimmy Carruthers, customers yesterday saw test transmissions from TCN, Australia's first TV station.
Other stories mentioned the amazingly good reception and the crowds in city stores, electrical retail stores and homes, and elsewhere that gathered to watch TV on the previous day. The tests of test pattern slides had begun at 3.30pm that Friday and had lasted 90 minutes. As the Sunday Telegraph put it two days later, this was TV's first of the first. TCN promulgated a regular schedule: the slides would appear daily from 10 to 11am, 3.30 to 5pm, and 6.30 to 7.30pm. Later that month the test patterns gave way to documentaries and feature films. Unlike all the cases mentioned so far this event has a fair claim to the title of first TV broadcasting. A schedule of regular features - certainly after the end of the month - existed, the transmission was unrestricted and an audience (in pubs, clubs, retail stores, electrical stores, and private homes) was in the process of being constituted; "If you already have a receiver start looking in tomorrow at 10am". However the test element is equally worth emphasising. To this end, a special test pattern of black and white vertical bars was transmitted for 10 minutes before each transmission to allow set owners to adjust their receivers. 12 Yet this testing and set adjustment was anticipated as minor. The transmission time of materials give the clue to the real nature of the event. Although TV sets had been on sale in Australia for over a year, potential owners were slow to buy sets both because of the lack of programs and the comparatively large cost of buying a set. The transmission times in this period were scheduled not around domestic viewers in a home situation (there were too few of these) but around potential owners looking at demonstrations in departmental and electrical stores. The program material and especially transmission times were deliberately designed as bait to persuade the customer to purchase. Advertisers would come later. For the moment TCN saw its duties as one toward retailers to help them sell sets to customers. 13 Only later once a stable domestic audience had been constituted could a station begin to think of selling audiences to advertisers.
However, as though amnesia had set in, commentators marked Sunday, 16 September as yet another beginning for TV and, especially, TCN. While the Daily Telegraph claimed that the day would mark the opening of TCN Channel 9, the station had, as I have shown, already been on the air since July. Elsewhere the Telegraph called the event the official Australian debut of TV ,14 though again this was debatable. The third event in October has greater claim to the title of an official opening; not of Australian TV, but rather of TCN Channel 9 itself. In any case the Telegraph almost immediately undercut this grandiose claim that "Television Takes The Air" by pointing out that the period between then and 4 November was regarded by the station as a training and development stage: "It will enable the station's technicians, artists and staff to find their feet and will allow set owners to become acquainted with their sets. Tonight's programs and those to be broadcast in the next six weeks will preview selections of top ranking TV shows which TCN will have after November 4". 15 Nor did the date mark the opening of TCN's new studios at Willoughby. This was still over a month away. In the meantime transmission would continue from the station's makeshift facilities in East Sydney. What was new about this second phase was a change in program materials and the schedule. Starting at 7pm on Sunday, 16 September, TCN now scheduled more recently produced American TV programs (for example I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best and The Texas Rangers), live local programs (The Johnny O'Connor Show and Accent on Strings) as well as magazine type programs that interspersed live and filmed material (for example This is Television - with the flamboyant and charismatic Mr Gyngell, and The Air Force Show). These programs now formed the basis of the schedule and were transmitted from 6.54pm (a short religious program) to 9.30pm each evening. In addition test slides continued to be broadcast at set times during the day.
In many ways TV was still looking to build a domestic audience through households buying a TV set. A mass audience did exist - especially on that Sunday evening - but this was more likely to be at such venues as the Hotel Charles at Fairy Meadow near Wollongong where the beer garden had two 24 inch sets, or the Parramatta Town Hall where an electrical dealer had installed 14 sets. For what its worth, the Daily Telegraph of Monday, 17 September had audience figures for the previous viewing:
More than 100,000 people last night saw Australia's first regular TV program from station TCN Channel 9. Crowds of up to 500 jammed showrooms of 200 metropolitan and near country radio dealers to see the show. About 3,000 private set owners held TV parties attended by an average of 20 people. Scores of city and suburban clubs installed sets for the opening. Reports of perfect reception came from as far afield as Newcastle, Cessnock, Kulljong, Katoomba, Corrimal and Wollongong. In the city thousands of people watched outside store windows. 16
Although a date of 3 November is mentioned here, this was brought forward to Sunday, 27 October. 17 The date was heralded as the official opening of TCN Channel 9. To that end the Prime Minister, the Premier of New South Wales, leading church figures, the Postmaster General and the Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board were invited along. Their speeches, marking the opening of the station, were delivered at 8pm at the new studios at Willoughby after which they and 200 other official guests returned to watch some of TCN's other evening programs on a giant screen. The date marked yet another shift in the constitution of TV. The period of training and development, announced in September, was now at an end. Along with TCN's associate station in Melbourne, HSV Channel 7, the nightly service was increased first to three hours and then to five hours. The previewing of the American programs also ceased. These programs were no longer one-offs but were now shown on a regular basis in the weekly schedule.
The newspaper reports carry no estimation of the audience size on the night of 27 October but it may have been as high as the 100,000 that the Telegraph had claimed watched on 16 September. However there had probably been a shift in the circumstances of viewing. The sets had long gone from the Parramatta Town Hall although most viewers were probably still watching TV as a 'mass' audience, in or on the footpath outside an electrical goods or departmental store. Private domestic sets were undoubtedly more than the 3,000 reported in September but saturation ownership in the Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Blue Mountains areas was at least five years away. The size of the TV audience has a large bearing on the last part of my case.
Presumably part of the reason why programs and transmission made before the July, September and October transmissions do not have the title of first has to do with the circumscribed audience size. Whether projected as films or transmitted as TV, the material outlined only reached small groups of people, a minority of the public. However these same charges apply to the transmissions of TCN in 1956 in the three periods discussed. The population of Australia in late 1956 was approximately 9.5 million but nothing like this figure watched TV on any of the three dates. Thus rather than calling one of these dates the beginning of Australian TV, one can - more accurately - call it the beginning of Sydney TV.
Further developments were necessary before an Australia-wide service might have a beginning. First TV stations would have to be licensed and come on the air in the other state capitals, in other large centres such as Canberra, Wollongong and Geelong, and in smaller regional areas, as well as sufficient sets going into homes to bring TV within the viewing reach of most Australians. These conditions only existed from about the mid 1960s. The second factor is the capacity and will of these stations scattered across the country to agree to the simultaneous networking of particular material or a particular program. The ABC had this networking arrangement in place long before commercial stations did. Thus it was the moon landing, as broadcast by ABC TV in 1969, rather than a federal election count, the retirement speech of a prime minister, a race meeting, or part of a royal tour that marks the beginning of Australian TV, as opposed to Canberra TV, Mount Gambier TV or Toowoomba TV.
Where religious TV in the past decade increasingly takes on the form of early Sunday morning evangelical fundamentalism, early religious TV occurred late at night. In programs such as Epilogue and Quiet Time, earnest gentle clerics invited those viewers to reflect on their day's events. So I reflect on this piece. It shows a series of candidates - persons, programs and transmissions - that might qualify for the title of 'first'. In this situation, Bruce Gyngell coming on the air at 7pm on Sunday, 16 September 1956 on TCN Channel 9 Sydney to host This is Television is merely one first among many that stretch from the mid 1930s to probably the late 1960s. The object has been, not to answer the question of who's on first, but rather to show that TV is a complex rather than a simple entity. It includes transmitting and receiving equipment, recording studios, range, programs, publicised schedules, and audience. Depending on which element or set of elements one takes one is likely to come up with quite different starting points for Australian TV.
1. Australian Television: the first 24 years (Melbourne: Nelsen/Cinema Papers, 1980), p.3.
2. Cameron Hazlehurst, "The Advent of Commercial Television", Australian Cultural History, no.2 (1982/83), p.104.
3. I am grateful to the National Film and Sound Archive, especially Helen Tully, for enabling me to view this film.
4. Projecting Australia: Government Film Since 1945, ch. 3 (forthcoming).
5. Tube of Plenty (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p.27.
6. Details here are drawn from the account in Sixth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for Year Ended 30th June 1954 (Canberra: Government Printing Office, 1954).
7. Daily Telegraph (12th July 1956), p.6.
8. Daily Telegraph (13th July 1956), p.9.
9. Barry Smith, "Advertising and the film industry", This Australia, v.6, no.4, (1987), p.12.
10. The Sydney Morning Herald by contrast, a major investor in ATN Channel 7 Sydney which was to begin operation a short time after TCN, studiously avoided mentioning TCN's beginnings. In other words in the eyes of the Fairfaxes there were no historic firsts here.
11. Sunday Telegraph (15th July 1956), p.26.
12. Sunday Telegraph (15th July 1956), p.9.
13. The comparative cost of a televised set as against other electrical appliances can be illustrated as follows. In July 1956 A.G. Palmers, a big Sydney electrical retailer, was offering a 21 inch Admiral TV for sale for 239 guineas. Hire purchase terms were available - 50.3.9 deposit and 46/5 weekly. Other electrical goods were a lot cheaper. A Black and Decker electric saw could be bought for 32.16.6, a Kelvinator, Crosley or STC refrigerator could be bought on hire purchase for about 11 deposit and 10/- a week repayment; a Kelvinator mantle radio cost between 24 and 31 guineas. The comparative costs of a TV set would, of course, drop markedly over the next decade.
14. Sunday Telegraph (16th September 1956), p.1.
16. Daily Telegraph (17th September 1956), p.1.
17. Information is drawn from Daily Telegraph (27 October 1956), p.1; Sunday Telegraph (28th October 1956), pp. 1 and 52 and The Australian Womens' Weekly (31st October 1956), p.54.
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