The curious history of the ABC and Australia’s national broadcasting transmission infrastructure

In this presentation Chris Wilson will introduce some of his current research examining the relationship between Australia’s Public Service Broadcasters and media infrastructures – what Parks and Starosielski describe in Signal Traffic (2015) as “situated sociotechnical systems that are designed and configured to support the distribution of audio-visual signal traffic”. Chris will outline the history of the dis-integration of public service media content production from the terrestrial broadcasting transmission infrastructure that carriers this content to audiences. The story is a curious one, incorporating broadcasting lessons from the Weimar Republic and the expansionist aims of the ABC’s Double J youth radio service in the 1970s, the rise of an engineering public servant as a public figure in the 1920s and concerns about the demise of Peppa Pig in the 2010s. But, it is more than simply a historical curiosity. For the ABC’s lack of control over fundamental media infrastructures continues to impact on its independence and effective operation.

Chris Wilson is a Research Fellow with DERC’s Technology, Communication and Policy Lab. His research focuses on media and communications infrastructure provision, its underlying policy determinants and downstream impact on cultural production and consumption. He is currently the principal analyst on the Australian Digital Inclusion Index project and is also completing research on the history of Australian public service broadcasting transmission infrastructures and the impact of radio spectrum access liberalisation in the 1990s on the rise of electronic dance music (EDM) radio in Australia.


Date: Monday 19 November
Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm
Venue: RMIT Council Chamber, 124 La Trobe Street, Melbourne (Building 1, Level 2, Room 17)

Register here.

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