An announcement recently made by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, says that the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) will receive an additional $5.5 million in funding for the digitisation of the “audiovisual heritage of the country”.

This is good news, as it means that thousands of hours of Australian television and radio shows will be able digitised and therefore preserved.

The announcment they made on Twitter in relation to the funding said …

“We will be able to digitise all the audio and video magnetic tapes in our collection!”

In 2015 the NFSA published Deadline 2025: Collections at Risk, warning that cultural heritage held on magnetic tape will in most cases be lost forever unless it is digitised by 2025. This includes much loved programs such as Young Talent Time and A Country Practice, and thousands of hours of television and radio. This additional funding will allow the NFSA to achieve the digitisation of all audio and video magnetic tape, at the highest international archival standards, in time to meet Deadline 2025.

NFSA CEO Jan Müller said …

“I can’t express how excited we are about this significant investment in our cultural history. With this funding we will be able to save thousands of hours of radio, television and music, before the tapes that contain them become unplayable. By digitising the collection, we are not only preserving it for future generations; we are also making it more easily discoverable, accessible and re-usable.

We will also be able to establish the National Centre for Excellence in Audiovisual Heritage – a hub for digitisation across Australia. We will share our skills, knowledge and equipment to safeguard the national audiovisual heritage held by other institutions.”

Magnetic tape, which is now obsolete, was used widely by the broadcast and music industries for the recording and storage of audiovisual productions (radio, tv programs and master recordings for music) during most of the second half of the 20th century. As it’s obsolete, that also means spare parts are no longer available, so digitisation to save these recordings is key.

NFSA collection content held on magnetic tape and yet to be digitised includes:

  • Iconic Australian TV programs such as Young Talent Time and Number 96.
  • Decades worth of news and current affairs, representing all of Australia’s public and commercial broadcasters.
  • Coverage of key sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup.
  • Television and radio content produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media organisations such as the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) and Imparja TV.
  • Awards ceremonies including the Logies, Astra Awards and Koori Music Awards.
  • Thousands of hours of radio serials and broadcasts of significant historical events.
  • Master tapes by many of our greatest musicians, as well as other unreleased and live performances

The National Film and Sound Archive is Australia’s ‘living’ archive – the custodian of over 3 million items that we not only collect, but also preserve for future generations and share in many diverse ways.

If you haven’t checked out their website, be sure to do so, and you can keep up with the latest news from them on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.