At 7.30pm on Wednesday 1 June 1960, a switch was flicked in a building in Shortland Street in central Auckland and New Zealand's first official television transmission began. New Zealand was a latecomer to the television age. Britain had led the way when the BBC started the world's first public service in 1936; three years later NBC began broadcasting in the United States of America and Australia had its first stations operating by 1956.
A Government committee had been studying the new medium since 1949 - and experimental broadcasts had been allowed from 1951 (as long as they included nothing that could be classed as 'entertainment'). The green light for television was finally granted in November 1959 with an announcement from the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Sir Walter Nash.
Television broadcasts had limited coverage when they first commenced. The first night's programming lasted just three hours and was only received in Auckland.
Transmission began in Christchurch a year later on 1 June 1961 and Wellington followed four weeks later. The people of Dunedin would have to wait until 31 July 1962 for their turn with the remainder of the country following in successive years.
Television licences were introduced in August 1960 at a cost of four pounds and by 1965 more than 300,000 of these had been issued. 1961 saw the introduction of television advertising. In 1965, the four stations were broadcasting seven nights a week - a total of 50 hours - but this was before the days of a national network. Each centre saw its own local programmes - and overseas shows were flown from centre to centre - playing in different cities in successive weeks.
New Zealanders' enthusiasm for local and international news during the 1960's presented many problems for the delivery of up to the minute information as the lack of a network meant newscasts had to be delivered to each centre and then transmitted. It wasn't until 1969 that the first Network News bulletin was read by Dougal Stevenson and received simultaneously around the country.
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