MOSES, SIR CHARLES JOSEPH ALFRED (1900–88)
Charles Moses was an influential Australian broadcaster and an inspiring and intimidating leader at the ABC in the mid-20th century.
Moses was born on 21 January 1900 in Westhoughton, Lancashire, England. He migrated to Bendigo with his family, later moving to Melbourne and entering broadcasting. In August 1930, he became a radio announcer for the Australian Broadcasting Company. In 1934, Moses introduced commentary on cricket Tests played in England between England and Australia to the ABC, using cables sent from London and producing his own sound effects in the Sydney studios. As a consequence, the sale of radio sets increased dramatically.
While the ABC began national broadcasts in 1932, with a public-interest obligation to meet the needs of those in country areas, it was not until 1935 that the ‘federalisation’ project expanded with the selection of Moses as general manager. New appointments were made for positions of federal controller of talks, federal controller of music, federal controller of celebrity concerts, federal controller of productions and federal news editor. The work undertaken in the new departments was coordinated by a federal controller of programs and financed from the increased revenue from wireless licences, which were being purchased by more people than expected.
His guidance was much missed when he enlisted in the AIF and was appointed a lieutenant in 1940. Prime Minister John Curtin personally secured his return to the ABC early in 1943.
Moses successfully broadcast educational programs, including general and political information, as well as ‘the best’ in entertainment such as drama, music and sport—with his main goals being to support local Australian talent of ‘high standards’ and develop a sense of national culture. Moses established permanent ABC orchestras in each state and in 1955, with (Sir) Eugene Goossens, was influential in advancing the planning for a Sydney Opera House.
Moses appeared before a parliamentary committee in 1946 to argue the need for an independent news service, although the main champion was news editor Frank Dixon. Moses oversaw the ABC’s move to provide Australia’s first national television service, with initial broadcasts in time for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Moses was made a CBE in 1954 and knighted in 1961. His relations with successive ABC chairmen were difficult, and his last decade at the organisation was clouded with controversy. Moses became the first Secretary-General of the Asian Broadcasting Union in November 1964 and retired from the ABC in January 1965.
REF: K.S. Inglis, This is the ABC (1983).