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Company Ownership

New England Broadcasters Pty Ltd has had a number of changes in ownership over the past 75 years.

The start of Radio 2AD can be traced back to Ernest Christian Sommerlad, Chairman and Managing Director of Northern Newspapers, publishers of the Inverell Times, Tenterfield Star and the Glen Innes Examiner and Managing Director of the Armidale Newspaper Company Limited. E. C. Sommerlad was also Member of the Legislative Council for twenty years from 1932, and one of the founders of the Australian Country Party. 

On 13 April 1935, E.C. Sommerlad advised the Armidale Newspaper Company Ltd. Board that he had, as a precautionary measure submitted an application for a ‘B-Class’ Broadcasting Station licence for Armidale (2AD) and Inverell (2LV) on behalf of Northern Newspapers Ltd. and the Armidale Newspaper Co. Ltd. 

On 15 June 1935, Mr Sommerlad advised the Armidale Newspaper Company Board that he had been successful in securing licences for both Armidale and Inverell newspaper companies.

Northern Broadcasters Limited was formed to run both stations. At that time many newspapers had purchased interests in radio stations, but the Northern venture was the first in Australia where a newspaper had actually established the station.

Radio Station 2AD officially started on Wednesday 5 February 1936, broadcasting from a studio built on North Hill Armidale some 160 feet higher than the main city centre.

In July 1936, the Armidale Newspaper Company Limited acquired outright all the shares in 2AD from Northern Broadcasters Limited. At that time, Northern Newspapers Ltd. also transferred their shareholding in Northern Broadcasters Ltd (2LV) to Country Broadcasting Services Limited of Orange.

In June 1942, following the difficulties of securing technical staff for 2AD, it was suggested to either lease or enter into an agreement with the Tamworth station. A meeting was held with the 2TM directors, who offered to take over the running of 2AD on the basis that the companies shared both profits or loses of the operations of the Station. 


The 2AD Directors declined the offer, while the manager was empowered to enter into preliminary negotiations on a three years’ lease of the station on a basis giving the station a 10% return per annum covering all charges and costs at a capital value of  £3,500.

The following month, the Chairman of 2AD, Mr D. H. Drummond held informal discussions with Mr J. E. Ridley, General Manager of Country Broadcasting Services Ltd. (2NZ Inverell), regarding willingness to lease 2AD, Mr Ridley expressed interest and asked for a formal proposal be made for a submission to his Board. An offer was made for a lease with a rental of £350 per annum. This offer was not taken up by CBS.

With the ongoing problem of no technical officer at 2AD in October 1942, Director E. C. Sommerlad moved that the Board approve the principal of a move in concert with Northern Broadcasters Ltd. to amalgamate 2AD and 2NZ with the view of establishing a single unit at Guyra, with the studio allocated to Armidale.  At the following month’s Board meeting it was reported that the Northern Broadcasters Board was favourable to the proposal. However, nothing eventuated from this proposal.

By January 1951, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was pressing the Company to increase the power of 2AD from 200 watts to 1,000 watts. This increase in power required a major investment in a new transmitter and the necessity of re-locating the station’s transmitter and aerial to a new site, further removed from the town area. 

The Armidale Newspaper Company Ltd. again sought the interest from broadcasters within the area on becoming partners in 2AD. The operators of 2NZ Inverell (Country Broadcasting Services Ltd.) and of 2TM Tamworth (Broadcast Amalgamated Limited) were approached.

In December 1952, Broadcast Amalgamated Limited took up a fifty percent ownership in the Company which was renamed New England Broadcasters Pty. Limited. BAL’s major shareholders Ernest Higginbotham and Tom Whitcomb, had established 2TM in Tamworth in 1935, their company also held the radio licence for 2MO Gunnedah.

In June 1978, following a merger of the Armidale Newspaper Company Ltd. with Northern Newspaper Company Pty. Ltd. the name of the Armidale Newspaper Co. Ltd. changed to Nornews Ltd.

In April 1981, The Land Newspaper Limited purchased a 30% share in Nornews Limited, shortly thereafter taking up the remaining shares in Nornews Ltd.

In September 1984, Broadcast Amalgamated Limited shares in 2AD were transferred to Television New England Limited, at that time the Nornews Limited shares were transferred from The Land Newspaper Ltd. to Rural Press Limited.

Television New England Limited, 50% shareholders of 2AD, was renamed Carillon Development Limited following the sales of their television interests to Ramcorp Limited in 1987. 

Carillon Development Limited acquired the remaining shares in New England Broadcasters Pty. Ltd. from Rural Press Limited on 30 December 1989, returning 2AD to one owner for the first time since 1952.

Then on 6 January 1995, Carillon Development Limited sold New England Broadcasters Pty. Ltd. along with their other radio interests, 2TM Tamworth, 2MO Gunnedah, 2RE Taree and 4WK Toowoomba to the Bill Caralis Broadcasting Operations Group.