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Saturday, May 25, 2013

The end of a analogue era: TVQ-0/10

We now come to a special piece, commemorating the history of a station that was left out of the fiftieth run of history pieces, back in 2009. Fittingly, as we move into one switch, there is a very important anniversary coming up in September: that means a lot to not just Brisbane viewers, but 10 in general. Sit back, and relive the history of what TVQ-0 was when it launched: the third player in a wheel...


1965-69: The solitary beginning.
Brisbane, like most other capitals, received their third commercial television station licences in the early 1960's. But, like Melbourne: due to regional stations taking up the 10 frequency (both regional operators on 10 in those states (DDQ Toowoomba in QLD, and GLV Traralgon in Vic) were the first regional stations in their respective states): purely because no-one thought that Brisbane or Melbourne would be offered a third commercial station (a situation that was learned from and avoided, when NEW-10 in Perth launched in 1988, which saw a re-allocation of GWN's regional frequencies to free up Ch10 for Perth) Brisbane was on Channel 0: a situation that needed, a major education campaign, prior to the launch in July 1965: as the third member of the 0-10 network. Initally taking network programming, with some local output (including a actor, who went on to do A Country Practice, Shane Porteous: playing both the kids entertainer in the afternoon, and late night horror movie host Deadly Earnest) : TVQ entertained the youth, of a city that was growing up: although the ratings sometimes didn't show otherwise. But it was the arrival of the 1970's, that saw people wake up to the third network...

1970's The address that saw Brisbane glued to TVQ.
The 0-10 network saw the beginning of some successful content in 1971: with the arrival of Young Talent Time, and then in March 1972: the debut of the program that saw a nation start watching this "upstart" network: Number 96. However, a decision from the station's early days: involving news, would come to be regretted: when the federal government, after the 1974 flood, mandated a local news service for TVQ, and thus started a tradition. Initially, based out of a radio station in Brisbane's CBD, the newsroom eventually moved up to Mt Coot-tha, with the arrival of electronic news gathering: using videotape. The TVQ news service had many firsts in that era: including first station to seriously look at a permanant bearer connection to Sydney, to eliminate the wait for news, the first live-link units specifically for news in QLD, and was rewarded well, with journalist recruitment: Paul Bongiorno, becoming one of those who made their name in Brisbane, on TVQ's Eyewitness News. However, a major change loomed.

1980's: TVQ, goes from 0, to 10, to woe.
January 20, 1980, saw it's stablemate, in Melbourne, ATV-0 convert to 10. From then on, TVQ evolved in it's own unique way, as ownership changed, often. Some decisions by the network took a long while to come to Brisbane: for instance, hour news at 6: which saw Sydney/Melbourne 10's ratings soar. Brisbane was all set to make the move to hourlong in 1980: that is until the arrival of Haydn Sargent, to produce a shortlived third local current affairs program. The hour news was put on the shelf, until 1984: when Network Ten, with Rupert Murdoch as spearhead, aired the LA Olympics, and finally saw the launch of a TVQ newshour (by a new owner: Qintex), whose format has stayed unchanged, (except for 1990-91 reverted to a 1/2hr news) since then. But the biggest scoop was to come: TVQ became the presenting partner for Expo 88, promoted it to the top, throughout 1986 and 1987. TVQ however was part of the big media sales of that year, with Qintex selling TVQ, after the duopoly caused by their purchase of 7 Brisbane, to Darling Downs Television, who proceeded on September 10 1988 (less than a year after purchase, and in the middle of Expo 88, leading into the Seoul Olympics) to convert to 10. It was the move to 10, that piqued the interest of Northern Star, who had picked up the 10's nationwide, except for Brisbane, and by the end of June '89, TVQ was now a O and O station. The decisions made by TVQ after being made a O and O were tricky, and lead to a tense situation in the 1990's.

Heading for the 21st Century: 1990's
With the move, to become a owned station, meant new challenges, for TVQ. Case in point, the acquisition of Bruce Paige, to read the 6pm news: which ended up being ditched, when the network fell into recievership in late 1990. Other critical decisions followed, including the main news bulletin's move to 5pm in 1992, and the axing of the local weekend news service in 1993, that just turned some viewers away. But it was Ten's access to some of the hits of the 1990's from America, that secured a younger audience. By the turn of the century, TVQ was in healthy shape financially, but a bigger revolution would arrive in 2001.

This century's reality: 2001-present.
This big revolution, was the arrival of Big Brother. Produced on the Gold Coast, it was the first major production by Ten in QLD since the TVQ switch. It lasted eight years, before taking a hiatus, until Nine snapped up the rights. Another element that arrived in 2001, was AFL: after years of poor treatment of Lions games by Seven, Ten was a breath of fresh air, especially as Brisbane for the first time got live AFL games in primetime, as opposed to midnight airings, and was at the cusp of the Lions golden run with three out of the four Brisbane Lions grand final appearances to date, on Ten. Eventually in 2011, the AFL deal expired. Meanwhile, television evolved, with Ten ambitiously returning local weekend news, and launching Eleven: whose non-Neighbours/The Loop production slate is based in Brisbane, in 2011. However, the problems that began to plague 10, started not long after. Poor management decisions led to a similar costcutting purge, as 1989-90, with local weekend news axed, and other key decisions made. Today, TVQ is lean, with a strong national production slate, outpacing it's competition. But one thing still remains evident: the focus on the youth of today, much like it was nearly fifty years ago.

But what about the last 25 years on TVQ? It will be explored in much more detail, in September: as we celebrate "Moving up the dial"...

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