Broadcast Listener Licences

The first radio broadcast in Australia was on the 13th day of August 1919, when Ernest Fisk of Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA) arranged for the broadcast of the Australian National Anthem ‘God Save the Queen’ from one building to another at the end of a lecture he had presented to the Royal Society of NSW at 5 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

The transmitted was a single valve AWA constructed transmitter which was located at Wireless House at 97 Clarence Street, Sydney.  The signal travelled about 100 years, with 20 telephone earpieces with tin horns attached which were hung from the ceiling as loudspeakers.

Above:- E.T. Fisk.  Image c/o Trove.

Led by Fisk of AWA, the Australian radio manufacturing industry lobbied the Australian Commonwealth Government for the introduction of radio broadcasting.  In May 1923 a conference was held in Melbourne which was attended by wireless manufacturers, retailers, broadcasters, listeners, and experimenters.

The conference led to the ‘Sealed Set Regulations’.  Radio stations were to be licenced to broadcast and then sell sets to ‘listeners-in’.  However, the radio set, or wireless as they were more commonly known, would be set to receive only that station.

Above:- newspaper article from the Daily Telegraph, 23rd November 1923.  Image c/o Trove.

Commercial radio broadcasts commenced in Australia in 1923.  Radio 2FC in Sydney was the first to be licenced on the 1st day of July 1923.  

However, broadcast licence number 3, radio 2SB (to become 2BL) was the first public radio station in Australia to go to air.  It  commenced broadcasting at 8.00 p.m. on the 23rd day of November 1923.  The number 2 denoted New South Wales, while SB stood for Broadcasters Sydney Limited. 

Broadcast Licence number 1, 2FC went to air on the 5th day of December 1923.

Only four stations commenced operation under the sealed system: Broadcasters Sydney Ltd 2SB, Farmers and Company 2FC Sydney, Associated Radio Company 3AR Melbourne, and Westralian Farmers Ltd 6WF Perth.

A wireless was regulated at purchase to the wavelength of a particular radio broadcaster.  Listeners paid a subscription fee to listen to that particular radio station.  In 1923 the subscription fee was 3 pounds 3 shillings, with an additional licence fee of 10 shillings which was payable to the Postmaster General’s Department.

The ‘Sealed Set Scheme’ was not accepted by listeners, with only 1,400 listeners obtaining licences between August 1923 and June 1924. 

Above:- Newspaper article dated September 1924.  Image c/o Trove.

By July 1924, new regulations governing wireless broadcasting in Australia were announced by the Prime Minister Stanley Bruce.  It involved two groups of stations – Class A and Class B.

Class A stations received revenue from the licence fees paid by listeners and from some limited advertising.  While all revenue for Class B stations came from advertising.  

The “A” class stations were the original sealed set stations, plus one in each other capital city – 2BL, 2FC, 3AR, 3LO, 7ZL, 5CL, and 6WF.

The first Class B station on air was Burgin Electric Company Ltd 2BE in November 1924.  The oldest surviving Class B station is 2UE which went on air on the 26th day if January 1925.

By the end of 1924 the number of listener licences was nearly 40,000.  Towards the end of 1925 it had doubled to about 80,000.

From as early as 1925, complaints about the cost of licences commenced to appear in newspapers.

In 1925 a Brighton Victoria Justice of the Peace made comments after fining people for not paying the ‘listening-in’ licence fee.  He expressed regret that such a high amount had been fixed and stated that it ‘tended to discourage experiments in wireless’.  He further stated ‘after all, it was better for young people to be at home at night with their wireles plants than walking the streets’.

​In response the Postal Director said that from a business point of view everyone needed to realise that it was essential to obtain adequate revenue from the licence fees, otherwise it would not be possible to maintain the service.

Above:- newspaper article from The Age Melbourne, Saturday 28th February 1925.  Image c/o Trove.

Nearly 300,000 radio receiver licences had been issued in Australia by the end of 1929. This was about 4.7% of a population of about 6,400,000. This equated to about 20% of households in Australia.

By the end of 1938, a total of 1,102,315 radio receiver licences had been issued in Australia. This was about 16% of a population of about 7,000,000, or 66% of households.

Despite the increase in the uptake of licences, Radio Inspectors often prosecuted those who did not have a licence.   A conviction could result in a 20 pound fine.  This was very onerous considering the average weekly wage in the 1930s was about 14 pounds.

Over the years the listeners licence underwent various changes relating to cost and the classes of use. 

Above:- A Broadcast Listeners Licence from 1952.  Image c/o ​

With the introduction of television in Australia in September 1956, a viewer licence was introduced.  By 1957 TV viewers were required to pay 5 pounds and an additional 2 pounds 15 shillings for radio.  A fine of up to 50 pounds could be imposed on those who did not comply.

Above:- a Broadcast Listeners Licence from 1965. Image c/o

During the 1950s the Post Master General placed advertisements in newspapers around Australia warning residents that visits from PMG officials may occur.

To avoid the fines, many people hid their radio and TV antennas in attics and chimneys, while radio and television receivers were often hidden in cupboards.

Officials were reported to use devices to measure RF frequencies generated by radio equipment. Listeners often resorted to using crystal sets which did not require electricity to operate and were unable to be detected.

Above:- Advertisement from the Canberra Rimes, October 1958.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Post Master General ran numerous advertisements reminding the public of their responsibility to ensure they had a radio and TV licence.  The advertisement below features Australian actor Frank Thring (b. 1926 – d. 1994).

The Brits also had to pay for a TV licence. I found the advertisement below featuring John Cleese to be very funny.

By the 1970’s a combined TV and radio licence could be purchased in Australia at a cost of $26.50.

Above:- a Combined Receiving Licence from 1973. Image c/o

On the 18th day of September 1974 the Australian Federal Whitlam Government abolished radio and TV licences.  The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) which had been financed by the licence fees, was then funded by Australian taxpayer revenue.

An attempt was made to reintroduce listener/viewer licences in 1975 by the Australian Fraser Government.  Recommended fees of $70.00 for a colour television and $50.00 for a black and white television set were met with huge opposition, and the proposal did not proceed.



1.   Australian Old Time Radio, 2021, <​&gt;, viewed 28th June 2021.
2.  Australian Old Time Radio, 2021, <;, viewed 29th June 2021. 
3.  Langhans, R, 2013, ‘The First Twelve Months of Radio Broadcasting in Australia 1923-1924’  
4. The History of Australian Radio, 2021, <;, viewed 29th June 2021.  
5.  Museums Victoria, 2021, <;, viewed 30th June 2021.
6.  NFSA, 2021, <​&gt;, viewed 28th June 2021.
7. Trove, 2021, <​&gt;, viewed 30th June 2021.
8.  Wikipedia, 2021, <​&gt;, viewed 29th June 2021.

Another 2 days as VK100AF

On Thursday 3rd June and Friday 4th June 2021, Marija VK5MAZ and I had another turn as VK100AF, celebrating 100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Unfortunately, Marija and I both had to work on Friday, so in effect we were on air for only 1 & 1/4 days. I didn’t get into the shack until 11.00 a.m. on Thursday and did not get on air on Friday until very late in the afternoon.

All up we made a total of 208 QSOs on 10, 20, 40, & 80m SSB.

We logged 25 different DXCC entities:-

  • Asiatic Russia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guadeloupe
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • USA
  • Virgin Islands

The map below shows our contacts around the world.

Above:- Map showing our QSOs around the world.

There was a small opening on Thursday afternoon on 20m on the long path (LP) into Europe and the United Kingdom. Conditions were not as good as we have experienced previously, but any opening is better than nothing. Unfortunately by the time I had got home from work on Friday, 20m LP had closed and I logged just a handful of European stations.

It was quite interesting to work two Irish stations, EI2HI and EI6JK, on the long path on 20m at 11.00 a.m. on Thursday morning. This is 3-4 hours before the band normally opens up to Europe.

The map below shows our contacts into Europe on the long path.

Above:- Map showing our contacts into Europe and the UK.

A total of 137 VK’s and 10 ZL’s were logged on 10, 20, 40, & 80m. There was a small opening to VK2 on 10m on Thursday.

Above:- Map showing our contacts around Australia and into New Zealand

This time around the most interesting QSOs were with Volker ZS3Y in South Africa on 20m. We had a chat for about 20 minutes and were 5/9 both ways. I also spoke with FG5IM in Guadeloupe in the Carribean. I also had a good chat with Mike VE6MB in Alberta in Canada on 40m about our recent trip to Canada and also the various aircraft used by the RAAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

I also spoke with Phil VK2NE who was a former RAAF Air Traffic Controller, and Frank VK6ALF who is former RAAF.

THANK YOU to everyone who called.

Contact with Mike G0WKH and Louis Stanley ‘Doc’ Watson of the RAAF

On the 30th April 2021, whilst I was using the special Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) callsign of VI100AF, I made contact with Mike G0WKH on the 20m band.

Mike followed up with a very interesting email to me which reads as follows:-

Hi Paul,

I was pleased to make contact with you today. I thought you might be interested to know that my family played host to a number of servicemen during WW2. We had a large house as there were 13 in the family of 3 generations. There was a mobile extra population of service men from all the Services and those with large houses were compelled by The War Department to make room for them. In some cases the whole property was requisitioned. Amongst 3 men who were billeted with us when the Australian 461 Squadron of Sunderland Flying Boats came to Poole was one Louis (Doc) Watson. He was flying as an airgunner on anti submarine patrols in the Channel and the Bay of Biscay. He was well liked by my family. I was 11 at the time and I think he was glad to talk to and play with me. The squadron eventually moved to Pembroke on the coast of Wales and we lost touch with him as,indeed, we did with practically all our’Guests’. Some years ago some enterprising people in Poole set up a club called the Friends of the Poole Flying Boats. They have extensive archives on activity covering these aircraft both civil and military. At a meeting some years ago I gave their Secretary a lot  of info. From memory about our contacts which included Doc. She subsequently  came back to me with the sad news that he had been shot down and killed on a patrol over the Bay of Biscay. His plane was attacked by 6 Junkers88 and there were no survivors. Included in the material she gave me was the fact that his home was in  the Mile End area of Adelaide. I believe there might be some sort of Memorial to Aussies in Thebarton. A long story but it seemed to be appropriate!

Best regards

Mike G0wkh.

As a result of Mike’s email I decided to do a little research on Louis ‘Doc’ Watson.

My first stop was the website of the Friends of the Poole Flying Boats.

Louis Stanley Watson was born on the 12th day of February 1918 at Adelaide, South Australia. His parents being William Henry Watson (1881-1954) and Mabel Wilhelmina Watson nee Rogers (1880-1964).

At the age of 22, he enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force at Adelaide on the 21st day of May 1940. His locality on enlistment was recorded as Mile End, South Australia. His next of kin was recorded as his father William Watson.

Louis attained the rank of Sergeant in the RAAF, with his service number being 26588. He served with 461 Squadron.

Louis Stanley Watson. Image c/o

The No. 461 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was a maritime patrol squadron during the Second World War, which operated under Royal Air Force control. The Squadron was formed on the 25th day of April 1942 and was disbanded on the 20th day of June 1945, following the end of the war in Europe. The role of 461 Squadron was to protect convoys and deter submarine attacks. They flew over miles of the Atlantic to hunt and destroy U boats, the German submarines. Personnel were drawn from many countries of the British Empire, although the majority were Australians. 

The Squadron were originally based at Mount Batten and then located to Hamworthy. In 1943 the Squadron was relocated to Pembroke Dock in Wales.

Above:- Map showing the location of Pembroke Dock.

The Squadron consisted of Sunderland flying boats. The Sunderland was a slow flying aircraft and often came under attack by enemy German fighters. As a result, ground crew modified the Sunderlands with twin gun nose turrets and galley mounted machine guns. As a result, the aircraft became known as the ‘Flying Hedgehogs’.

Throughout the war, the Squadron was credited with destroying a total of six German U-boats, and operated mainly in the Bay of Biscay and Atlantic. RAAF 461 Squadron lost a total of twenty (20) Sunderlands to enemy action and accidents. A total of 86 Squadron members were killed on operations, including 64 Australians.

RAAF 461 Squadron emblem. Image c/o RAAF Museum Point Cook

At about 12.55 p.m on Wednesday the 2nd day of June 1943, a Short Sunderland GR3, serial number EJ134, with its famous callsign of “N for Nuts” took off from the Royal Air Force Base Pembroke Dock, under the command of the Captain of the aircraft Flight Lt. Colin Braidwood Walker. The flight was described as ‘a normal A/S (anti submarine) patrol in the Bay of Biscay.’ Sergeant Louis Stanley Watson was the Rigger aboard the aircraft.

Above:- the crew of EJ134. Sergeant Watson is fourth from the left.

Their mission that day included to look for a civilian aircraft, a DC-3 Dakota which had failed to arrive in Bristol and was suspected to have been shot down by the Luftwaffe. Aboard the aircraft was the British actor, Leslie Howard.

Above:- Leslie Howard. Image c/o Wikipedia

The crew did not locate any sign of the missing Dakota. At about 6.45 p.m. EJ134 was patrolling over the Bay of Biscay at a height of 2,000 feet in are area known as ‘Tiger country’. It earnt this name due to the number of lone aircraft which had been shot down by German fighters in the area. It was at this time that eight JU 88 German aircraft rapidly closed in on the aircraft and the Sunderland came under attack.

The Junkers Ju 88 was a German WW2 Luftwaffe twin engined multi-role combat aircraft. 

Above:- A JU 88. Image c/o Wikipedia

In what followed, the crew of EJ134 won their places in aviation history. In a prolonged attack by the Luftwaffe, the Sunderland lost one engine and its tail turret. Despite this, EJ134 managed to shoot down three of the eight German fighters. Of the remaining five JU 88’s which were damaged by EJ134, only two returned to Bordeaux in France. The remaining three JU 88’s are presumed to have crashed into the sea.

During the firefight, Sergeant Louis Stanley Watson was in the nose turret of the aircraft.

A number of the crew sustained injuries, while Edward Charles Ernest ‘Ted’ Miles, the First Flight Engineer, aged just 27 years, was killed.

The severely damaged Sunderland EJ134, with about 500 holes, most of the bridge destroyed with all radio and some flying instruments destroyed, made the 350 mile journey back to Cornwall. It did not make it to Pembroke Dock, and made a forced landing in the shallows on the shores of Cornwall, at Praa Sands.

Sir Charles Portal, Chief of Air Staff sent the following to the crew:

“I have just read the account of the flight by Sunderland N/461 against 8 JU88 on 2nd June. I should like Flight Lieutenant Walker and the surviving members of his gallant crew to be told of the admiration and pride I felt on reading the details of this epic battle which will go down in history as one of the finest instances in this war, of the triumph of coolness, skill and determination against overwhelming odds. I am sure that not only the heavy losses inflicted on the German fighters but above all the spirit and straight shooting of the crew will have made a profound impression on the morale of the enemy in the Bay of Biscay and will thus greatly assist in the war on the U Boats. From Sir Charles Portal, Chief of Air Staff.”

Four of the crew of EJ134 (and a BBC staff member) recording the story of the encounter with the JU88’s in a BBC studio. Sergeant Watson is in the middle. Image c/o

Many of the crew of EJ134 were all back to operational flying from the 8th July 1943 and completed a further 4 operational flights together. In August 1943 they shared in the sinking of U-106 with a 228 Squadron Sunderland. However Sergeant Watson was not to be so lucky during August of 1943.

At 7.08 a.m. on Friday the 13th day of August 1943, a Short Sunderland Mk III, serial number DV968, took off from the Royal Air Force Base Pembroke Dock for an anti-submarine patrol over the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean.

Above:- No. 461 Squadron Sunderland Mark V landing at Pembroke Dock, Wales. Image c/o Wikipedia

Nothing was heard from the aircraft until 2.47 p.m. when a signal was received which stated that the aircraft was being attacked by six JU 88’s.

It is suspected that the Sunderland was shot down by one of the JU 88’s and crashed into the Bay of Biscay. Louis’s aircraft was later claimed by Lt. Artur Schroeder of 13/KG 40. Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG40) was a Luftwaffe medium and heavy bomber wing and the primary maritime patrol.

The following day, Sunderland JM683 patrolled the area where it was suspected the aircraft was shot down, however no dinghies or survivors were located.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Bay of Biscay. Map c/o Google maps

An extract from Herrington; J (John) book entitiled ‘Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, read as follows:-

“Flying Officer Dowling of No. 461, leading the gallant crew which under Flight Lieutenant Colin Braidwood Walker (404610) had won the heroic struggle against eight Ju-88’s on 2nd June, failed to return from patrol on 13th August after reporting enemy fighters approaching his Sunderland.”

The crew members of DV968 were:

  • Flying Officer Wilbur James Dowling (400788) (Pilot)
  • Flight Sergeant Alfred Eric Fuller (576061) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • Flying Officer David Taylor Galt DFC (400976) (First Pilot)
  • Warrant Officer Ray Marston Goode DFM (407499) (Air Gunner)
  • Flying Officer James Charles Grainger (400411) (Second Pilot)
  • Flight Sergeant Albert Lane (414701) (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • Flight Sergeant Charles Douglas Les Longson (415338) (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • Warrant Officer Harold Arthur Miller (405083) (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • Flight Lieutenant Kenneth McDonald Simpson DFC (403778) (Observer)
  • Flight Sergeant Phillip Kelvin Turner (26697) (Flight Engineer)
  • Sergeant Louis Stanley Watson (26588) (Flight Mechanic / Air Gunner)

Not flying that day in DV968 were James Collier Amiss and Colin Braidwood Walker who were aboard EJ134 during the 2nd June incident.

Louis was just 25 years old. His body was never recovered.

Louis is remembered at the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. He is also remembered at various other locations including the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and the National War Memorial of South Australia in North Terrace, Adelaide.

References., 2021, <>, viewed 31st May 2021

Air Crew Remembered, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.

Australian Government, 2021, <>, viewed 31st May 2021.

Australian War Memorial, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.

Australian War Memorial, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 2021, <>, viewed 31st May 2021.

Highgate RSL, 2021, <>, viewed 31st May 2021.

Knifton; John, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.

RAAF Museum Point Cook, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.

RAAFA Aviation Heritage Museum, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.

Virtual War Memorial Australia, 2021, <>, viewed 31st May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <>, viewed 31st May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <>, viewed 1st June 2021.