Switched On: A History of Regional Commercial Television in Australia

PhD thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2020

My PhD thesis, Switched On: A History of Regional Commercial Television in Australia, builds on my foundational Master of Research study which was completed in 2015.

Switched On is the first dedicated history of regional commercial television in Australia. Based on fine-grained archival research and extensive interviews, this 760-page analysis reveals that regional stations initially achieved a balance between local relevance, community involvement, operational efficiency, innovative programming, independent ownership and financial viability. It then demonstrates – through the development and application of an innovative ‘Localism-Independence Index’ – how political, regulatory, economic, industrial, technological and socio-cultural forces have, over a 60-year period, resulted in the emergence of Prime, WIN and Southern Cross as the dominant operators. This examination also considers the reasons why regional networks now operate largely as supplicants to the metropolitan Seven, Nine and Ten networks.


I am currently in talks to publish this work ahead of the 60th anniversary of the opening of Australia's first regional commercial television station - GLV Latrobe Valley (Traralgon) - in December 2021.

You can read the PhD thesis abstract here.

Station Break: A History of Regional Commercial Television Ownership and Control

Master of Research thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2015

My Master of Research thesis, completed at Macquarie University in 2015, sought to analyse and trace changes in regional commercial television ownership from inception to the mid-2010s.

This earlier study provided a foundation for my more detailed and wide-ranging PhD thesis, which was completed in 2020.

I presented this research at the 2015 Australian Media Traditions Conference held at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, where it was awarded the Foxtel Prize for best student paper.

A summary article of this thesis was published in Australian Journalism Review, Vol. 38, No. 1 (July 2016) pp. 117-130. You can access a copy of this journal article here.

ANNOUNCEMENT: "A History of Regional Commercial Television in Australia" by Michael Thurlow will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2022. Click here for more information.