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Seven Network (1956)


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The Seven Network is an Australian television network owned by Seven West Media Limited. It dates back to 4 November 1956, when the first stations on the VHF7 frequency were established in Melbourne and Sydney.

It is currently the second largest network in the country in terms of population reach. Since 2007, Seven is the highest rating television network in Australia, ahead of the Nine Network and Network Ten in second and third place respectively.
In 2011 the Seven network won all 40 out of 40 weeks of the ratings season for total viewers. Seven is the first to do this since the introduction of the OZatm ratings system in 2001.


The Seven Network began as a group of independent stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. HSV-7 Melbourne, licensed to The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd , was the first station in the country to use the VHF7 frequency. It launched on 4 November 1956, soon joined on 2 December by Amalgamated Television Services ATN-7 in Sydney.

The two stations did not immediately begin sharing resources, and instead formed content-sharing partnerships with their VHF9 counterparts by 1957: ATN partnered with Melbourne's GTV-9, while HSV paired up with Sydney's TCN-9. HSV's relationship with the Victorian Football League began in April 1957, when the station broadcast the first ever live Australian rules football match.

TVW-7 Perth began broadcasting almost two years later, on 16 October 1959, as the city's first commercial station. It was licensed to TVW Limited, a subsidiary of West Australian Newspapers, publisher of The West Australian. BTQ-7 followed on 1 November, signing on as Brisbane's second commercial television station. Throughout this time, the stations operated independently of each other, with schedules made up of various simple, and relatively inexpensive, programs, such as Pick a Box and spinoffs of popular radio shows. In the early 1960s, coaxial cable links, formed initially between Sydney and Melbourne, allowed the sharing of programmes and simultaneous broadcasts of live shows.

In 1960, Frank Packer, the owner of Sydney's TCN-9, bought a controlling share of Melbourne's GTV-9, in the process creating the country's first television network and dissolving the ATN-7/GTV-9 and HSV-7/TCN-9 partnerships. Left without their original partners, ATN and HSV joined together to form the Australian Television Network in 1963 together with the other capital city Channel 7 stations.

ADS-7 in Adelaide launched on 24 Oct 1959 as the final capital city VHF7 station. The station later swapped frequencies with SAS-10, however, with the latter becoming SAS-7 in December 1987.

The newly-formed network began to produce and screen higher-budget programming in order to attract greater numbers of viewers, most notably Homicide, a series which would continue for another 12 years to become the nation's longest running drama series. However, it was not until 1970 that a national network logo appeared, albeit still with independently owned and operated stations with localized advertising campaigns.

Colour television was introduced across the network in 1975, along with a new logo incorporating a bright ring of the colours of the visual light spectrum. Rupert Murdoch made an unsuccessful bid for the Herald and Weekly Times, owners of HSV-7, in 1979, later going on to gain control of rival ATV-10. Fairfax, however, successfully bought a 14.9% share of the company later in the same year.

This decade saw the introduction of stereo sound, as well as a number of successful shows, most notably A Country Practice in 1981, and Sons and Daughters, which began in 1982. Wheel of Fortune began its twenty five year run in July, 1981, produced from ADS-7's studios in Adelaide. The 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow were shown live on the network the year before. Neighbours began on Seven in 1985, but low ratings in Sydney led to the cancellation of the new series at the end of the year; the show later moved to Network Ten and went on to achieve international success.

Perth-based businessman Robert Holmes à Court, through his business the Bell Group, bought TVW-7 from its original owners, West Australian Newspapers in 1982. The Herald and Weekly Times, owner of HSV-7 and ADS-7, was sold to Rupert Murdoch in December 1986 for an estimated $1.8 billion. Murdoch's company, News Limited, sold off HSV to Fairfax soon afterwards, for $320 million. Fairfax went on to axe a number of locally-produced shows in favour of networked content from its Sydney counterpart, ATN-7 .

Cross-media ownership laws introduced in 1987 forced Fairfax to choose between its print and television operations – it chose the former, and later sold off its stations to Qintex Ltd., owned by businessman Christopher Skase. Qintex had previously bought, and subsequently sold off, stations in Brisbane and regional Queensland before taking control of the network. The next year, another new logo was introduced along with evening soap Home and Away and a relaunched Seven National News, now known as Seven News. The network expanded in 1988 when Skase bought out TVW for $130 million.

Despite the network's successes, a failed $1.5 billion bid for MGM Studios in the same year sent Qintex into receivership. Christopher Skase fled Australia in 1990 in order to escape extradition. The business' assets were bundled together by receivers and made into a new company, the Seven Network Limited, in 1991.


Real Life, a national current-affairs programme hosted by Stan Grant, similar in format to the Nine Network's A Current Affair, was launched in 1992 but was later replaced by the more successful Today Tonight.

The network was listed on the stock exchange in 1993, soon after the entry of subscription television provider Australis. One of Seven's most popular series, A Country Practice, ended in 1993 after 1058 episodes. 1994 saw the introduction of Blue Heelers, which after a number of timeslot changes, was moved in 1998 to Wednesdays. This was in order to make room for a new series, medical drama All Saints. Both dramas rated quite highly, and along with new lifestyle shows Better Homes and Gardens and The Great Outdoors, resulted in a stronger ratings position for the network.

In 1995, Sunshine Television, a Seven Network affiliate in regional Queensland, was purchased by the network's parent company, Seven Network Limited. Sunshine Television's regional stations effectively became a part of the Seven Network, identical in appearance and programming to the rest of the business' stations. Seven Queensland won the annual audience ratings for the first time in 1998.

A successful $1.3 billion bid for United Artists was made in conjunction with Kirk Kerkorian in 1996; the network sold its stake two years later for $US389 million. Seven took control of Australia Television, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Asian satellite channel, in 1997. The ABC still maintained a share in the network, and continued to produce news and current affairs programming for it.


The year 2000 saw former Nine executive David Leckie appointed as head of television operations, re-launching the network with an updated logo, new advertising campaign in time for the network's coverage of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. The opening ceremony was one of the highest-ever rating television programmes in the country, with 6.5 million viewers, contributing to the network winning the ratings year for the first time in twenty-two years, but lost it to the Nine Network.

Digital television was introduced to most of the network's coverage area on 1 January 2001. This was soon followed by the gradual introduction of wide screen and high definition programming.

2006 marked the 50th anniversary of television in Australia. To celebrate, Seven aired a number of anniversary specials and reused some of its old promos.

In January 2006, the Seven Network, Pacific Magazines and online portal Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand combined in a joint venture to form Yahoo!7, representing all three companies' online assets.

Seven HD was officially announced on 15 September 2007, with the Seven Media Group announcing their intention to start a high definition multichannel, that was initially expected to launch in December 2007. However, Seven HD became the first free-to-air commercial television channel introduced to metropolitan areas since 1988, when it launched prior on 15 October 2007, with 25th Hour being the first programme broadcast at 10:30pm.

By the end of 2007, the Seven Network had proven itself to become the most watched network in the country dominating morning and prime time slots with a total 29.1% audience share across the 5 major cities and winning 38 weeks over the Nine Network's two weeks, stealing their traditional crown as the number one network.

On 14 February 2008, the Seven Media Group and Foxtel officially signed an agreement allowing Seven's digital signal to be transmitted via Foxtel's cable and satellite services. Seven became available on Foxtel in Early 2009. Prior to this, Seven was only transmitted via cable on Foxtel in an analogue format, however Seven is available on Austar's satellite services now via the Mystar PVR.

Sevens ongoing success from 2005, 2006, 2007 led to fourth ratings win for 2008 with a 29.5% audience share across the 5 major cities and with 28 weekly wins over Nine's 11 weekly wins, with one tie between them.

In 2009, Seven used Guy Sebastian's #1 Aria selling song Like it Like That for their summer station promo.

On 25 September 2009, Seven announced its new digital channel. On 1 November 2009, Seven officially launched 7Two.


On 18 January 2010, Seven launched the online catch-up TV website called PLUS7.

On 25 September 2010, Seven launched their new HD digital channel 7mate aimed at men 16–49. The first program to be broadcast was the drawn 2010 AFL Grand Final.

In January 2011, the big red 7 logos were expanded to GWN7 and Prime7's rebranding respectively. The news buletins wwere renamed as GWN7 News and Prime7 News. GWN and Prime relaunched on 16 January 2011 at 6:00pm, digital channels are branded as 7TWO and 7mate.

Seven announced it is set to expand into digital datacasting known as TV4ME, a digital channel owned by the Prime Media Group, in December 2011 on channel 64 in Prime7 areas and channel 74 in other areas. As a datacasting channel, the content on the channel will be regulated, and consist of mostly information, and the scope for entertainment limited. It shows mainly Australian made programs, and infomercials.

 Additional programs

Always Greener, launched in 2001, received two million viewers in its Sunday timeslot, however, it was axed after its second season due to declining audience numbers.

In 2004, Seven launched the internationally well-known game show Deal or No Deal to the 5.30pm weekday timeslot as a lead-in to the networks' main news bulletin, and later in the year Dancing with the Stars, based on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, was also launched. The following year, a number of new programmes premiered, from the United States network ABC, including Desperate Housewives and Lost. At the same time, Seven's news and public affairs ratings began to increase in viewers, with Today Tonight beginning to challenge rival A Current Affair, with the new format of Sunrise leading to increased competition with its rival, the Nine Network's Today. Seven's evening news bulletins also started to take the lead with successes in most cities.

The network launched a number of new series in 2006, including Prison Break, Dancing with the Stars spin-off It Takes Two, How I Met Your Mother, and My Name Is Earl, And saw long running series "Blue Heelers" Ending its 13th season run after declining ratings sense late 2003. The ongoing success of these programmes resulted in a narrow loss to the Nine Network for the year, primarily due to Nine's coverage of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

In 2007, Seven Network launched morning TV with the Sunrise's Current Affairs spin off The Morning Show hosted by Larry Emdur & ex-Sportsworld presenter Kylie Gillies. They also promoted new shows such as Brothers & Sisters, Heroes, and The Rich List. The year also saw the launch of the Beautiful Sunday lineup consisting of Australia's Got Talent, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and What About Brian during their "Seven in '07" campaign year.

In 2008, Seven launched new local drama Packed to the Rafters whch became the year's top rating show with an average of 1.938 million viewers.

In 2009, a new weekly public affairs show Sunday Night launched in the Sunday 6:30 position to a shaky start but by the end of the year was easily winning its slot and rating up to 250,000 more than rival Nine Network's long-running 60 Minutes. 2009 also saw Thank God You're Here move to Seven after previously airing on Network Ten for its first three seasons. The year also saw the final episode of long-running Australian medical drama All Saints.

In 2010, Seven launched a series of AFL and NRL-based entertainment shows in an effort to take on Nine's The AFL Footy Show and The NRL Footy Show and also provide a bargaining chip for the AFL and also the NRL rights negotiations when they come up for renewal. The AFL-based series is called The Bounce and will be hosted by Peter Helliar with the NRL-based series called The Matty Johns Show, hosted by former Footy Show host Matthew Johns.

The Bounce was pulled from the air after just five episodes. It is said that the show has been put into production hiatus. The show was replaced by reruns of British comedy, The Vicar of Dibley. It was said that the show would return for the final series in September 2010.

Seven has been strong in the ratings since 2007, but was hit fairly hard in 2010 when the Nine Network introduced a new lineup of programs, including the return of Light Entertainment program Hey Hey It's Saturday, and general entertainment programs like Top Gear Australia which rated extremely well in the 2010 period, the success of Millionaire Hot Seat, the premiere of Underbelly, and regrowth of Nine News and ACA. Nine won 17 weeks in 2010, their greatest success since 2006. At one stage, the Nine Network almost threatened to overtake the Seven Network as No.1 in 2010.

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