The Minister of Broadcasting marked the event on it's 50th anniversary...

New Zealanders' Fifty Year Love Affair with Television

Today is a milestone in New Zealand broadcasting history. Fifty years ago, on 18 May 1959, weekly scheduled test programmes gave New Zealanders their first taste of television, says Minister of Broadcasting, Dr Jonathan Coleman.

Transmission was limited to Auckland and to only two hours a week on Monday nights.

"There was no money for new programmes, so in addition to test patterns, Auckland viewers enjoyed clips from old National Film Unit newsreels and whatever free content the then New Zealand Broadcasting Service could beg, borrow or steal."

These early experiments continued successfully, and on 28 January 1960 the government announced that it had decided to introduce television as an entertainment medium to New Zealand.

"There have been dramatic changes in television broadcasting over the last fifty years.

"I think it would be fair to say that the average television viewer in 1959 would be utterly amazed by the quantity, quality, range and accessibility of the content New Zealanders of the 21st century take for granted. Today we can watch high definition, colour programmes across multiple channels, both free-to-air and pay, 24 hours a day. We can ‘time-shift' to watch content when it suits us, skip advertisements, pause to let the cat out, mute the boring bits, add captions, and pre-record all our favourite programmes at the push of a button."

Just as television has changed beyond imagining in the last fifty years, digital convergence between the internet, telecommunications and broadcasting mean that changes are likely to be even more speedy and profound over the next fifty years. 

NZ On Air funded a look a back over those years...

NZ On Air has announced the allocation of more than $2.25 million funding for new documentary projects for broadcast on Prime TV and TV One.

“Our research consistently shows us that the documentary is the most watched and enjoyed programme-type we support,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson. “This funding will contribute to more than 15 hours of television – telling stories unique to New Zealand.”

At the forefront of the range of documentaries given the nod this time is Fifty Years of Television in New Zealand, a seven-part series celebrating local television since its arrival here in 1960.

“The series will screen in 2010 on Prime,” Ms Wrightson said. “It’s a comprehensive overview of how television has evolved in New Zealand. From news and information to drama and comedy, sport, music and variety shows – even Telethons! It’s all there, and it’s all us. Some of it will make us laugh, now, but there is also so very much to be proud of.

Fifty Years of Television in New Zealand will examine the ways in which television has influenced society and culture in New Zealand, and, in turn, how our own culture has changed a very powerful medium. “It promises to be spell-binding,” Ms Wrightson said.

And TVNZ hosted a quizz night: Cheers to 50 Years which was watched by many but liked by few. If you saw any other coverage of the anniversary let us know!


Comments powered by CComment