As the official awards of the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA), the ASTRA Awards celebrate the subscription TV (STV) stars and shows that Australians love to watch, and highlight the creativity, commitment and investment of STV in production and broadcasting.
The ASTRA Awards began in 2003 with nine awards acknowledging local productions and promotional campaigns. Now, 11 years on, there are 21 categories encompassing production and talent awards across all genres, and the highly coveted Channel of the Year award.
In 2010 the ASTRA Industry Excellence Awards were created recognising excellence in the marketing and promotion of subscription TV. These award categories were previously part of the ASTRA Awards but have been separated in order to distinguish them within the context of awarding campaigns that enhance and further the promotion of the industry.
Embraced by the industry as a must-attend annual event, the public have also been able to participate by voting for their favourite programs and personalities since 2005. In 2011 these categories were expanded to encourage consumer participation.
The ASTRA Awards ceremony was for many years a traditional industry style event, with roundtable seating and an MC approach to the proceedings. In 2010 it was reinvigorated as a theatre style event while maintaining popular STV talent as presenters and musical performances. David Speers was the first host for this new format and performed on sheer adrenaline after flying from Canberra where he’d been covering the first Gillard/Rudd Labour party leadership challenge. Despite not having slept in over 48 hours, Speers’ performance as host was widely acclaimed. A high point was the standing ovation he received for his highly entertaining, impromptu trumpet solo.
The new format was a huge success with one journalist remarking, “If only all awards shows could be run like this.”
Staged over the years in some of Australia’s most popular venues including Wharf 8, Hordern Pavilion, and the historic State Theatre, in 2011 the Awards moved to Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay. Renowned as one of Australia’s premier arts venues, it’s a fitting backdrop for an industry that fosters creativity and support of the arts.
The award ceremonies have also recognised musical talent over the years with live performances from artists including the cast of Billy Elliot the Musical, Cat Empire, Evermore, Sneaky Sound System, Operator Please, Jimmy Barnes, Jessica Mauboy, Katie Noonan and country music star Lee Kernaghan. In 2011 Iva Davies, of iconic Australian band Icehouse, performed an acoustic rendition of the group’s famous song Great Southern Land that silenced the auditorium. In 2012 the audience was treated to Pete Murray, the Sydney Theatre Company, Timomatic and a surprise appearance by Molly Meldrum which inspired a standing ovation.