This article is divided into the following sections:
The origins of Tasmanian Television Ltd. (TTL) can be traced back to a series of board room
meetings conducted by the directors of Commercial Broadcasters Pty. Ltd. (owners of radio
station 7HO) beginning in 1948 and up to the mid-50's, when an application for a commercial
television licence by 7HO was considered. Other Tasmanian businesses also took interest in the
idea, such as Robert Nettlefold Pty. Ltd and Davies Brothers Limited (then proprietors of the
newspaper) amongst others and TTL was born as a result - board members of
TTL included G. F. Davies (of Davies Brothers, as Chairman), L. Nettlefold (of Robert Nettlefold),
Sir Geoffrey Walch, L. Murdoch and G. H. Green. The abovementioned companies provided TTL with
20 per cent of its initial £300 000 ($600 000) in capital.
Eric McRae (then 7HO station manager at the time of TTL's formation) was perhaps TTL's greatest
exponent. In preparation for the eventual granting of a licence, McRae oversaw the conducting
of extensive research required for supporting the licence application, and as part of the research,
McRae took an overseas tour of various television and radio stations in the US, Canada, the UK
and continental Europe in 1956 to observe their operations.
TTL submitted their licence application on June 30, 1958 (along with another competing applicant)
and the licence hearing procedures conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB)
commenced on August the 13th of that year. TTL was granted the licence in October 1958 - the
callsign for the station was to be TVT and the service was to transmit on channel 6. McRae was
made managing director of TTL in February 1959 and in July of that year was made executive
of the company responsible for overseeing the construction and maintenance of studio and
office facilities for both TVT6 and 7HO - an arrangement that had not been attempted anywhere else
in Australia at the time - to be located on a 6300 square metre site at 52 New Town Road, in
New Town (TVT-7HO Properties Limited).
TTL made an initial public offering on the stock market (at 2s. 5 1/2d., or 24.63c, a share) on May 20,
1959. Public interest in the company was high - all of the shares were bought immediately and by
August 1959, the value of the shares increased eightfold to 19s. 8d. (or $A1.97) a share.
McRae embarked on yet another overseas trip in 1959, acquiring both the latest knowledge in
televisual operations and a substantial library of programmes.Construction of facilities
TVT-7HO Properties Limited was granted £150 000 ($300 000) towards the cost of constructing
the studio facilities. W. R. Morgan was made consulting engineer of the construction project
who oversaw surveying work (by G. W. Griggs and Co.), site-levelling and pile-driving work
(by Ken Gibson Pty. Ltd.) and building work (by D. R. Tait Pty. Ltd.). Upon completion, the
facility featured a 214 square-metre television studio, four radio studios, various administration
wings, a record library and a production department. In his capacity as chief engineer of TTL,
W. S. Morrison arranged for the study and acquisition of studio equipment - the television studio
was fitted out with equipment supplied by Pye.
The Postmaster-General Department decreed that the transmitter tower (and supporting facilities)
for the TTL-provided and
the ABC-provided television services operating in Hobart was to be erected near the summit of Mount
Wellington (1219m above sea-level), 16km outside of the city. Erecting the 91-metre high tower was
no mean feat - apart from regular inclement weather atop the mountain, the workers responsible
for the tower's erection (from the Hansen and Yuncken firm) had to contend with the mountain's
(contrary to popular belief at the
time) unstable rock formation (boulders with soil inbetween, rather than just solid rock) and
Tasmanian laws that nearly resulted in the completed transmitter, upon its arrival at Devonport,
being impounded by the authorities due to the transmitter components' (which was to be delivered
by two semi-trailers) length exceeding the allowable semi-trailer length limit by about 30cm,
amongst other issues. To counter these problems, the engineers designed a tower that could
withstand high-velocity blizzards of upto 176km/h (152km/h if holding upto 18 tons of ice and snow);
the transmitter -
an omnidirectional transmitter made by Philips - had special plastic covers placed on each of the
elements as a protective measure. Another requirement was that during the daily transmission period
of the two stations, two technicians were required to be present at the transmitter facility on the
mountain to ensure the smooth-running of, and to maintain, the transmitter - with this in mind,
self-sufficient accomodation for the technicians was constructed (along with an emergency backup
generator) so that in the event of being snowed in, the technicians could survive for several
weeks at a time.
Much of the work was carried out between October 1958 and March
1959 - the onset of winter prevented the completion of the tower and facilities for a few months.
Work resumed in November 1959.
By February 14, 1960, both the studio and transmitter was completed and by March 3, 1960 the first
test programmes were transmitted.Opening
TVT6 opened official transmission, with the press of a button by Production Co-ordinator Ian
Ridley, and with an official opening programme, introduced by McRae, who then
introduced TTL Chairman Davies, who in turn introduced Governor Corbett.
The opening ceremony was followed by the news, read by News Editor Gordon Leed. Other programmes
that screened that evening included (in order) Dennis the Menace
, I Love Lucy
and The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theatre
. Transmission concluded at 10:30pm
function celebrating the opening was held at the Wrest Point Hotel - many dignitaries such as
Governor Corbett, State Premier Reece and Hobart Lord Mayor Osborne were present to witness the
event on television screens placed around the function room. Many Hobart residents chose to
celebrate by viewing the opening on television screens behind department store windows.
The opening of TVT6 was the culmination of the Federal Government's plan to roll out television
services to all state capitals (the ABC-TV service, ABT2, commenced transmission on June 6).The stuff that happened in between...
Over time, TVT6's coverage expanded throughout southern Tasmania all the way to the west coast
of the island with the establishment of translator stations, including TVT8 Queenstown,
Strathgordon, Maydena and Bicheno, and TVT10 in Rosebery.
TVT6 also acquired an outside broadcast van and a 2" quad videotape recorder for the studios
(worth £37 000 - $74 000) in 1963.Takeover by ENT
Late in 1981, Examiner-Northern Television Enterprises Limited (ENT - owners of TNT9 Launceston)
made a bid for the acquisition of all shares in TTL from all of TTL's shareholders, thereby taking
over the company - the initial bid made by ENT was $4.32 a share. This offer, however, did not
prove generous enough for TTL's shareholders so the chairman of ENT, Edmund Rouse, penned an
open letter announcing the increase in the purchase offer (up to $4.65 a share) and further
arguing that the acquisition of TTL would create a more viable Tasmanian media company that would
remain fully Tasmanian and would better serve Tasmanians. Eric McRae countered with another open
letter, pleading with his shareholders, saying that it was not in the public interest if the company
was sold, and remaining adamant in the belief that TTL would remain independent.
One by one, however, the shareholders capitulated and sold their shares in TTL to ENT. As a
result, TVT6, as an independent station, ceased to exist, with its delisting on the stock market
on March 17, 1982.Programming
"Problems in Building Transmitter", The Mercury
"TV Station Had Birth Twelve Years Ago", The Mercury
"Room to Expand", The Mercury
"Governor Opens TV Era in Tasmania", The Mercury
"Dream Has Become Realisation", The Mercury
"Remember shopfront TV?", The Mercury
Rouse, Edmund "An Open Letter to Shareholders in Tasmanian Television Limited from Examiner
Northern TV Limited", 31/12/1981
McRae, Eric "A Letter to Shareholders in Tasmanian Television Limited", 31/12/1981