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Cabinet papers: Playing catchup on PayTV

The introduction of Pay TV to Australia was promoted in terms of greater local production. Photo: Louise KennerleyAustralia was the only major English-speaking nation that did not have Pay TV services and the Hawke government was anxious to catch up.

Communications Minister Kim Beazley presented a discussion paper to the cabinet in December 1990. It offered a vision of “convergence” in information and entertainment systems that “will see … these services … become little more, conceptually, than electronic books, magazines and newspapers”, open to individual choice and no longer defined by the “scarcity” that underpinned the dominance of the media owners of the past.

Heroically, Mr Beazley urged the introduction of pay television as a “catalyst to local production”.

He said Pay TV would provide a low cost choice to consumers for quality in-home entertainment and education and information services. Its introduction was to be financed by higher income groups. “Pay TV is part of an evolution of in-home entertainment services in the Western world that is increasing economic welfare by expanding the range of choice in these services,” Mr Beazley said.

Cabinet records release

Cabinet records for 1990 and 1991 held by the National Archives of Australia became eligible for access from January 1, 2016. Information about the cabinet records, lists of the documents and copies of key cabinet documents, including selected submissions and decisions, are available on the Archives’ website (naa.gov备案老域名). Click on the “Collection” tab, then “Popular research topics”, then “Cabinet”.

Requests for access to records not already released may be made via RecordSearch on the Archives’ website.

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