NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1920 __ 2SB
Comment : Developed by Earnest Fisk (1886-1965), Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) begins conducting experimental radio broadcasts in Sydney, Australia (call letters 2SB, later 2BL). (Barry Mishkind, “The Broadcast Archives”, [http://www.oldradio.com/ www.oldradio.com])In Australia, wireless was a Commonwealth responsibility from the beginning under the Constitution's allocation of communications powers to the federal government, and its Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905 made provision for the development of the wireless under strict government control. There were experiments in broadcasting all over the country, but the government did not erect its first two-way wireless telegraphy stations in Queenscliff, Victoria until 1913. The same year, two Commonwealth wireless telegraph stations were erected in Fremantle and Sydney (at first at Pennant Hills - still an important radio transmission site - and after 1927 at La Perouse), built by Marconi's company which then monopolised the industry worldwide. These were built primarily for defence, navigation (including ship-to-shore radiotelephony) and other government communications. These non-broadcast functions of radio were always significant (and remain so), although of course they cannot be considered as part of the public broadcasting industry. Because radio technology was relatively cheap (compared with building cars or ships or railways for instance) and took up little space, amateurs were able to play an important role in its early development, often working out of their homes. One of the most important such men was Sydney Catholic priest Father Archibald Shaw, who operated out of the presbytery of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Randwick between 1910 and 1915. Shaw endlessly tinkered with radios and even claimed to have his own scheme, until Telefunken and Marconi threatened to prosecute him for breach of patent in 1915. Shaw withdrew at this point, but for five years he had communicated by radio with missionaries of his order in the South Pacific as far as 2,000 miles away. Shaw's concern, with its probable infringement of patents, proved to be a false start, and the Australian radio industry, as opposed to amateurs or government services, began with the amalgamation of Marconi's Wireless Company with Telefunken to form Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd (AWA) in 1913. This company played a dominant role in the development of the wireless in Australia. The public was fascinated by the way voices could travel through the air and the process was then in the hands of technically literate amateurs. Any local member of the community who could construct a wireless was a popular person. The first official broadcast in Australia was in August 1919 when Ernest Fisk, head of AWA, broadcast the National Anthem from one building to another at his lecture on 'Wireless Telegraphy' to the Royal Society of New South Wales. [...] The first official station to commence broadcasting was 2SB (subsequently 2BL) on 13 November 1923. The Sealed Set Scheme (with the inspector system), however, was abandoned the following year as only 1,400 people took out licences. Although illegal, many users simply altered their sets to receive other stations' broadcasts. Thus, the Sealed Set System was quickly replaced with a dual A-Class and B-Class system. Both types of stations were owned and operated by private companies with approved government licensing, but A-Class stations were funded by licence fees and B-Class relied on advertising revenue. By the end of 1924 there were almost 40,000 listener licences sold, which doubled in the next year. The radio era had arrived, and expansion was extraordinarily rapid. (Robert Lee, “Linking a Nation: Australia's Transport and Communications 1788 - 1970”, University of Western Sydney, 2003)
Urls : http://www.oldradio.com/archives/international/austral.html (last visited ) http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/ahc/publications/commission/books/linking-a-nation/chapter-9.html (last visited )

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