Channel 9 TV Antenna Willoughby or TCN is the Sydney flagship television station of the Nine Network in Australia and is located at Willoughby. The licence, issued to a company named Television Corporation Ltd headed by Sir Frank Packer, was one of the first four licences (two in Sydney, two in Melbourne) to be issued for commercial television stations in Australia. TCN-9 is the home of the NRL coverage and Nine News bulletins.
TCN began broadcasting on 16 September 1956, and became the first station in Australia to begin regular transmissions. Test broadcasts, initially consisting of a test slide and later documentaries and dramas, had commenced two months earlier on 13 July 1956.The first TV tower was built there in 1956, but was replaced by a taller one in 1965 which is the tallest lattice tower in Australia at 233 metres, and is now operated by TXA Australia which operates another tower nearby at Artarmon.
The first words spoken on the station were by John Godson, who introduced the station audio-only,shortly before the first program, This Is Television, was introduced by Bruce Gyngell. As Godson’s voice only was heard, Gyngell (who spoke and was seen) is regarded as the first person to “appear” on Australian television. Original footage of Gyngell’s opening address is not believed to exist, with the oft-screened “opening” footage being re-created in 1959 for archival purposes. Other early programming included the 1958 variety music program Bandstand which was launched by Brian Henderson. It lasted for 14 years on the station and launched the careers of many Australian performers.In 1957, the station formed an affiliation with Melbourne station HSV-7, allowing them to share programming. In 1963, station affiliations changed; TCN-9 formed part of the National Television Network with GTV-9 in Melbourne, QTQ-9 in Brisbane and NWS-9 inAdelaide. These stations formed the basis of what is now the Nine Network, although only the Sydney and Melbourne stations were owned by the Packer-controlled company Nine Network Limited.
On Sir Frank Packer’s death in 1974 ownership of Nine Network passed to his younger son Kerry Packer. Kerry’s older brother Clyde Packer had been groomed to take over from their father but after a bitter split with his father ca. 1970 he relinquished his role in the company and subsequently moved to the USA. In January 1987, Kerry Packer sold the Sydney and Melbourne stations to Alan Bond’s Bond Media for $1.055 billion, including $200 million in shares of Bond Media. Bond already owned the Perth and Brisbane Nine affiliate stations (among others). In 1990, Bond Media’s inability to pay out preference shares to Packer forced Nine into receivership. In July 1990, Packer bought back the expanded Nine network (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) for only $200 million, one-fifth of what he sold it for. Perth was not included due to Bond selling it to Sunraysia Television before Packer buying back the company.In 1994, Packer’s print operations (owned by Australian Consolidated Press) and the Nine Network were merged into one new company, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL). On 1 October 1997, TCN-9 performed the first on-air trial of digital broadcasting in the southern hemisphere.TCN commenced digital television transmission in January 2001, broadcasting on VHF Channel 8 while maintaining analogue transmission on VHF Channel 9. The analogue signal for TCN was shut off at 9.00am AEDST, Tuesday, 3 December 2013.