Channel 96 to the 21st century Big Brother

Before television there was radio. And for my mum, Jasmina, it was a time where her two siblings and parents were able to sit around and listen to programs that kept them up to date.

My grandparents are originally from Serbia and Croatia, therefore it would be wise to understand that television or radio wasn’t a necessity for them. If anything, making wine and farming was all that mattered in their villages. Television was first introduced at the Belgrade Fair in 1938 and later re-introduced after World War 2, where shortly after my mother’s father, Petar Tepsa, migrated with his wife to Australia for a fresh start.

Whilst working on construction sites my grandfather sits me down to remind me of the times all the Italians would bring their mini radios

“It was probably heavier than their tools” he said “But it’s also the way I learnt to speak Italian and better my English.”

Just like Serbia, Australia experimented with television transmission in 1929, but it wasn’t until during and after the war that the expansion and funding followed through by the Menzies government.

Finally, in September 1954, the government agreed that the time had come to introduce TV, especially in view of the forthcoming Olympic Games to be held in Melbourne in 1956.

A few years in the country and my grandparents learnt that they would have to buy their wine instead of making it themselves – which led to boring sober days and deciding to buy a television box. Although there were anxieties on what technology could do, my grandfather knew that they would have to adapt to the lifestyle

Considering my grandfather worked all day, he hardly got time to watch television programs. So to gain a deeper insight on what their household was like, I sat my mother down to ask a few questions.

“I grew up watching music channels and fell in love with Elvis Presley very quickly.”  For me, this explained my whole life of listening to her 80’s music.

Because my mother grew up in the late seventies and eighties she was surrounded around the radical period where the Australian TV lost its innocence in soap opera dramas and colour.

The Seventies saw a sexual revolution going on, but not just in the bedroom, it was also happening on our TV screens.

By the time my mum was in her teens, soap operas in the 80’s were in full swing and channelling massive profits.

“As a teen, we travelled back and forth from Serbia to Australia so it was really difficult to go without television in the Serbian villages; especially when “Number 96” was becoming so popular amongst my friends”

Number 96 was one of the first few soap operas that effected Australia and changed the face of Australian TV. The controversial show told the stories of life in suburban Australia. Sexual relations, infidelity, nudity, racism, homosexuality, drugs – it was all there, five nights a week at 8.30pm.

Despite its largely ‘adult’ content, at one point the series was the number 1 rated show with children aged 5 to 12. TV writers constantly criticised the show and the censors monitored its every move, but the viewers loved it.

“My parents may have been foreign, but they weren’t stupid. I was in bed a lot of the time before the show came on.”

Because the dial from the television fell off on most nights, my grandfather was forced to fork out another $700 for his growing family.

“3 kids later, another 5 TV’s, and now he sits at home with a plasma TV that covers his whole wall” My mum shakes her head

There is no doubt that technology hasn’t come a far way. Now with his wall television, my grandparents are able to connect their signal from their own home to watch European shows and Folklore day and night.

Can’t wait until he learns about Skype and asks for a laptop….



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