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There are five main television stations in Australia:
  • Channel 2 aka the ABC: A government-owned television station (of course, this doesn't mean that the government controls it. In fact, it's normal that the ruling party accuses the ABC of being biased against it). Known for showing television that would not get an airing on the other television stations, but should exist anyway.
  • Channel 7, Channel 9 and 10: These are the commercial television stations. Pretty much like American TV stations, except that they have to abide by local content laws that mean they have to show some Australian content.
  • SBS (formerly Channel 0 and now Channel 28): The "ethnic" broadcaster. Shows foreign movies and other unusual material. Also known for bizarre shows like Eat Carpet.
There are also a number of regional television stations like NBN and WIN but these tend to rebroadcast material off the other TV stations. Also, just recently (i.e. 1999) we got cable television. This is still fairly unusual in Australia.

There are some unique aspects of Australian television ... even on free-to-air TV, people can say bad words (including the f-word, the c-word, the s-word), especially on SBS (which has different rules to the other TV shows). Breasts can be shown and sometimes the ads are embarassingly explicit (e.g. a Toyota ad that features a man running naked down the street -- try watching THAT one with your parents)! Nudity is semi-acceptable.

Can you believe this was a nodeshell?
Actually, we got cable a hell of a lot earlier then 1999. And it is far from unusual.

The first non - free-to-air carrier in Australia was known as Galaxy, which developed a large number of new television stations, and began their pilot services by Satellite in 1992. Galaxy soon became extremely popular among Australians, allowing connections almost anywhere do to its flexible infrastructure.

Soon enough though, after a full 2 years running alone in the new industry of pay television Galaxy generated competition by the likes of Austar(1995), Optus(1995) and Foxtel(1995). Unlike Galaxy though, all of the carriers (excluding Austar), used cable to deliver their media. All of the carriers, though, provided entertainment ranging from comedy, movies, business and so forth. Cable provided a much cheaper alternative for those living in the urban (the most densely populated areas in Australia) areas, plus allowed those who didnt want an expensive satellite dish with a better way to go.

Eventually Galaxy died around 1997, leaving the competition to Foxtel, Austar and Optus Vision. Foxtel easily took the lead, with some of the most popular channels (Showtime (movies), Channel V(music), and news channels ranging from CNN to Fox News), plus providing both a Satellite (launched in 1997) and a cable service to customers. Austar followed Foxtel's lead, and while it does not provide a cable service (only Satellite), it mixes both the great channels of Optus and Foxtel, and is the only available option to most regional subscribers.

Optus Vision is the least popular cable service, as its grid is very limited (it does not install in townhouses, units, and has a fragmented area of service - even in urban cities), channels are of low quality (except the movie ones), and it does not provide a cable service. On the flip side though, Optus provides the best cable internet service hands down. Unfortunately, since its area of service is very limited, a lot of possible subscribers miss out.

So, while Australian cable services are not as comprehensive of those in say, America, we are far from infancy.

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