The first subscription TV service was Galaxy, which offered eight channels via microwave and satellite. It was followed the same year by AUSTAR, Optus Vision and FOXTEL’s satellite and cable services. Advertising was initially banned on pay TV, but this was changed in 1997.
Galaxy was operated by Continental Century Pay-TV, a joint venture between Australian venture capitalist CVC and US cable company Century Communications and Australis Media, a start-up company in which Tele-communications Inc. and Ron Brierly’s Guinness Peat Group were major shareholders. Initially operating with three channels, it required customers to install a microwave antenna or satellite dish.
Galaxy always struggled financially and several proposed mergers with Foxtel were rejected by the Australian Government. In 1998 the operating company, Australis, was declared insolvent and Foxtel acquired its programming and customers.
Pay TV, through lifestyle programming, helped to boost the number of television programs devoted to food and cooking. The Lifestyle Channel launched in September 1997 and programs included topics such as food and wine, home and garden, real estate, shopping, leisure and travel. Now simply called Lifestyle, and operated by Foxtel, it has three subsidiary channels, one of which is called Lifestyle Food.
Most of the free-to-air television networks have since created their own food channels.