About 70% of American programs could be seen on Australian prime time television in 1980, United Press International reported. In 1979, American local stations began showing the Australian drama 'Prisoner: CellBlock H', about women behind bars, to counter the networks' late-night offerings. Reg Grundy of Grundy Organization Production said in an interview in 1980, "If you treat the mass audience with contempt I think you are almost certain to fail. Others have treated game shows as rubbish – and they have failed. We treated them seriously, and were rewarded with success." In 1995, Rocky Mountain Media Watch followed local evening news program on some 100 TV stations in 35 American states after deregulation of the broadcast industry. It found, "Stations use sensation and tabloid journalism to manipulate and condition viewers. Crime stories, mainly murder, dominate half the newscasts. The excesses of local TV news industry are now chronic, habitual and institutionalized."  

In May 1980, 'The Sullivans' became the second Australian TV series to make its foray into the tough, competitive U.S. syndication market. Vernon Scott remarked, "Despite a common language, the barrier of great distance (over 9000 miles) and the dissimilarity of lifestyles have conspired to prevent Australia and the United States from closer cultural and entertainment ties via the tube or screen." At the time, some 600 episodes (dating back to 1976) of the 5-day-a-week drama had already been "filmed, cut and canned", ready for screening. Norman Lear's TAT Communications flew actor Andrew McFarlane, a fourth generation Aussie without "the often nasal Australian accent", to Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Indianapolis and San Francisco to promote 'The Sullivans'. He explained, "The series is set in Australia in the 1940s during World War II. It's about a family of 3 sons and a daughter and what becomes of their lives. I play the eldest son. I think it will give American viewers a better understanding of Australians, and especially what we were like in the '40s." 

In 1961, the Australian Government invited representatives from Congress to the first meeting of the Pacific Regional Division of the International Roads Conference. Some 27 high level government officers from other Asiatic countries would also be attending. Then Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn sent Rep Bob Jones of the Eighth Alabama District and Congressmen Frank Smith of Mississippi and Frank Clark of Pennsylvania to attend representing the U.S. In March 1961, Bob told The Florence Times, "The first impression of this big island, almost as big as the United States, was that the people and the towns appeared to be so much like ours...The movies are American and so are the TV programs. Juke boxes pour out the latest American tunes.

"Young people especially seem to favor American fashions. Australia is a new country and something like our own about 50 years ago (around 1911), ready to develop its frontiers and natural resources. It became independent of England in 1901...The Australian people remain grateful to Americans...American forces saved it from Japanese invasion in World War II. Australia wants to know what we do about building highways and how we use and control water...Australia has a poor grade of brown coal for power purposes and knows its future depends upon better electrical output...There is no question in my mind that in these friendly people, anxious to have our aid and help in developing their country, we have one of our strongest allies in the Pacific. Cultivation of this friendship is important for our own future. It was a privilege to have a share in promoting it." 

In August 1967, Robin Esser of the London Express observed, "The ties between Canberra and Washington are nowhere better demonstrated than in the personal relationship between Prime Minister Harold Holt and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Observers everywhere agree that LBJ’s visit outdid in enthusiasm any welcome that has been given to a Royal visit. More than 50% of Australian television is imported from America. Many of the films shown in cinemas are American made. The car industry is dominated by Ford, Chrysler and General Motors...making, in many cases, straight copies of the big Detroit autos. University and college scholarships to study at American universities, especially in medicine and science, are growing in number. Perhaps most important of all the Americans have seen the vital importance of the fantastically rich mineral deposits which are in Western and Central Australia." 

Andrew told the press in 1980, "It is a bit unusual turning the tables on the United States. Our native TV shows are good but production costs are almost prohibitive. So we rely on imported Hollywood shows. After all, they're proven hits, they've been highly publicized and the stars are familiar to us." Thomas Kent of the Associated Press pointed out in 1975, "It all adds up to big profits for American film and television producers, who find Australia a lucrative market. In 1974 Australia was producing 19 of its own feature films while importing 873 - 232 from the U.S. and 89 from Britain."

Ronald Haynes was the program director of the TV channel Ten elaborated, "If we had to run any more Australian stuff it would reduce the quality of the general programing scene because it's too expensive to make good local shows. I think each country should have a balance of local and imported programs. In England, they say they are 84 or 86% local content, but much of it is people sitting in the studio talking to each other. It's dull and dreary. Is that good for people?"

Andrew continued, "My country’s popular taste in TV shows is very similar to America's. But we've failed to develop film or TV stars on the scale that Hollywood has. Actors, especially stars, get paid 500 times as much in the United States as they do in Australia. Acting really isn't considered a glamorous profession down there. In fact, you get more public recognition selling cigarettes in commercials than being a very good actor. It's more lucrative, too. You can understand why an Australian actor would like to come to Hollywood. But it's not just for the greater salary he could earn. There are more good directors who know how to get the most from performers, more original ideas floating around and even better scripts here in Hollywood. Better still, there is much more investment money to be had. Our TV is just as competitive and cut-throat in Australia but, of course, on a much smaller scale. There are only 14 million of us (in 1980) in the entire country. I imagine TV stations in New York reach more people than that."

Colleen McCullough's 'The Thorn Birds', about 4 generations of Irish family life in Australia's outback from 1915 to 1962, was the most popular novel during the American summer of 1977. In the American spring of 1983, David Wolper and Stan Margulies successfully turned Colleen's epic novel into the second highest-rated mini-series of all time. The 10-hour TV mini-series attracted an average 59% audience share over 4 compelling nights. Richard Chamberlain made the comment, "'Thorn Birds' verged a bit on soap opera but it was filled with compelling issues, like what withholding love does to people. And the production values were exceptional." Northwest of Los Angeles substituted for New South Wales 1932 and Hawaii substituted for Queensland. Stan maintained, "We did everything we could to make everything else as authentic as possible, considering that we weren't in Australia."

In 1990, the Australian television industry replaced the AGB McNair Anderson diary system with the A.C. Nielsen electronic people meters to measure audience. Under the log-book style, the 52-week ratings period was divided into 36-week ratings (from February to November each year) and 16-week non-ratings (between November one year and February the next). The networks normally ran "premium programs" during the ratings period. At the 1997 Andrew Olle Lecture, Jana Wendt told attendees, "Once upon a time, in a land unspoiled by A.C. Nielsen, news editors and current affairs producers worried about news and not about demographics. They worried about whether the story on the Middle East was a good story, about whether it broke new ground. One television proprietor (Kerry Packer) actually jettisoned a high rating American cop show ('Hawaii Five-0') and asked for a quality Australian current affairs program ('60 Minutes') to be produced in its stead. Remarkable. But today (in 1997), the landscape has clearly changed." 

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