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March 23, 2024

On March 1, 1975: Australian Television Stations Officially Moved to Color

In February 1972 the Australian Government announced that all Australian TV stations would convert to color in March 1975. The transition to color TV was expected to cost the ABC around $46 million and the commercial channels $70 million. Some stations had already installed color-compatible equipment. Color TV had been around for a while overseas and there were experimental telecasts in Australia beginning in October 1974.

On March 1, 1975, Australian television stations officially moved to color. Strangely, one of the earliest shows broadcast in color was The Black and White Minstrel Show. It could never happen today! On the ABC’s show Aunty Jack, the characters made a comical attempt to fight off the advance of color, in mockery of conservative, change-resistant attitudes.

Of course, viewers who wanted color TV had to purchase new sets. It also meant that television commercials, which had previously been shot in black and white had to be shot in color at a considerably higher cost. These were pre-videotape days and color film stock was much pricier.

Some advertisers were quick to capitalize on the potential to show their products in appetizing colocr while others resisted the additional cost involved. By 1978, 70% of households in Sydney and 64% in Melbourne had color TV sets. Australia had one of the fastest change-overs to color television in the world. In 1978 the Melbourne Cup was first televised, live and in color, to a national audience – a great opportunity for the consumption of chicken and champagne Australia-wide.

Cricketer Gary Gilmour accepts a color TV set from Philips consumer manager, Mr Bruce Rowan, February 13, 1976.

Miss Elizabeth Sheppard, of Paddington, with the most expensive television set (a Nordmende Spectra, priced at $1275) on display at David Jones’ Market St. Store, February 23, 1975.

Technicians at National's manufacturing plant at Penrith, work on Pana-Color TV sets on December 27, 1974.

Color receivers at Grace Bros city store draw a steady stream of viewers on October 19, 1974.


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