"We're still number four!
—The Late Show
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation originally began as the Australian Broadcasting Company, a national public radio service that tried to be like the The BBC. Since its inception, the ABC has always tried to bring the same service to all Australians, first on radio and later on TV. Not an easy task, considering how remote every town and city is. However, it has paid off -- it is currently the only national radio service, and was the first national TV service established in Australia.
While the ABC has always played second fiddle to commercial radio in Australia, it still maintains an important role on the country's radio dial and currently runs five radio services:
- ABC Local Radio (a bit of a misnomer, as much of its programming is the same nationwide)
- Radio National (the only Australian radio station that still runs "serious" programming)
- ABC NewsRadio
- ABC Classic FM (one of the first FM services in Australia)
- Triple J (the "youth" station, and the only radio service that can play the F word in the afternoon)
Meanwhile, since Australian TV began, ABC-TV has always come fourth in TV ratings after the three commercial networks (The Late Show even lampshaded this with a parody of the Nine Network's "Still The One" promotion, as quoted at the top of this page). Specifically because it doesn't worry about ratings, it takes care of a lot of public remit programming ranging from indigenous programming and religious shows to sessions of Parliament and current-affairs shows to hours and hours worth of kids' shows. As a result, it holds a special place in many Aussies' hearts. Its news and current-affairs service makes the commercial networks look like amateurs. Its dedication to children's television means that millions of Aussies grew up in front of the ABC. Its production of a variety of esoteric programmes (Collectors, Gardening Australia, Rage, Media Watch, and Message Stick) would not have even run, let alone become successful, on Aussie commercial TV. This all makes it essentially a showcase of Australian television production. It also has a lot of British programming...possibly more than a lot of channels in Britain. On 4 December 2009, ABC launched ABC 3, Australia's only free-to-air channel purely for children, which (perhaps inevitably) became the most-watched channel for Australian kids, and produced a few smash-hits such as Dance Academy. 2010 saw the launch of ABC News 24, the only Australian free-to-air 24-hour news network, extending the ABC's respected journalistic repertoire (if on an absolutely tiny budget).
Of course, it's not all nice and fuzzy. Ever since Australia got rid of the license fee (we had a license fee?), the ABC's budget has been depressingly meagre, meaning that while it provides a wide range of Aussie programming, many TV shows can afford little more than sets and people -- so be prepared for any ABC comedy or light-entertainment show to joke about this. Also, because many of its shows (especially comedies) push the envelope and are often offensive, it receives the ire of many conservative groups complaining about how their taxes are paying for filth. Many conservative Aussies also complain that the ABC also has a bias toward the Labor Party. The fact that former ABC newsreader Maxine McKew is now a Labor politician (and represented former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard's Division of Bennelong from 2007-2010, no less) doesn't help this perception.
Despite these problems, the ABC is still well-loved in Australia, and a vast amount of Australiana has come from the ABC over the years. For a list of shows that aired on the ABC, look at the list of Australian Television Shows and choose every other one. That is how influential the ABC has been.
Programs originating on the ABC:
- Angry Boys
- Blue Water High
- Everything done by The Chaser
- The Ferals
- Feral TV
- The Games
- The Glass House
- Good Game
- Good News Week (Channel Hopped to Network Ten in 1999)
- The Gruen Transfer
- The Hollowmen
- Kath and Kim (Ended up Channel Hopping to Seven Network)
- Little Elvis Jones and The Truckstoppers
- Media Watch
- Play School - the Australian version.
- The Slap
- Spicks and Specks
- The Straits
- Summer Heights High
- Anything that originated on ABC 3
- Peace! Pretty Cure
- (previous ABC1 Branding)