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Countdown (music show)

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For other meanings of the term countdown, see Countdown (disambiguation).

Countdown was a long-running popular weekly Australian music television show broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in the 1970s and 1980s and hosted by Ian "Molly" Meldrum. Countdown commenced broadcasting in late 1974.

Countdown gained a huge audience and soon exerted a strong influence on radio programmers, because it was broadcast nationwide on Australia's government-owned broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Countdown was the most popular music program in Australian TV history, and it had a marked effect on radio because of its loyal national audience -- and the amount of Australian content it featured. It also gained double exposure throughout the country by screening a new episode each Sunday evening, and then repeating it the following Saturday evening. It followed this format for most of the time it was on air.

Cultural influence

Teen-oriented pop music still enjoyed strong popularity during the 1970s, although much of it was sourced from overseas, and the proportion of Australian acts in the charts had hit an all-time low by 1973. That trend began to change around 1975, and many credit that largely to the advent of Countdown.

Although not widely recognised, Countdown also had a strong international influence, because it was one of the first TV shows in the world to promote the regular use of the music video as a major part of its programming. Because of its receptivity to these music videos (which were in fact something of a necessity because of the comparative rarity of tours by overseas acts) Countdown proved to be instrumental in the worldwide success of a number of important overseas acts of the period. Well-known examples are Blondie, ABBA, Meat Loaf, Boz Scaggs and Cyndi Lauper, all of whom who had their first hits in Australia, thanks to their video clips being aired on Countdown, and this in turn led to their records being picked up and becoming hits in America and/or Europe.

Countdown was crucial to the success of acts like John Paul Young, Sherbet, Skyhooks, Dragon, Marcia Hines and Split Enz, and it dominated Australian popular music well into the 1980s, although some critics felt that in later years it tended to concentrate on pop-oriented major-label acts and that it failed to reflect much of the exciting independent scene of the time.

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