With so many great Aussie shows on free-to-air TV, it's hard to see why people are still paying for Foxtel and Austar -- especially when pay TV has just as many ad breaks.
Many of Australia's best local productions offer the same quality as programs commissioned by subscription television networks, and often enjoy greater success due to their broader audience.
Unsure what's appropriate for pre-teens to watch on free TV? These great Aussie G-rated shows will entertain and provide a good example for impressionable tweens.
Dance Academy (ABC1, 5:30pm weekdays)
An immediate hit in Australia, Dance Academy chronicles the journey of country girl Tara Webster, who moves to Sydney to study ballet after being accepted into the National Academy of Dance. The sweet but feisty girl navigates friendships, boys, the pressures of performing and balancing school with fun in this great series. Currently in production, season two will follow Tara during her second year (so there'll be new first-year characters!) and her efforts to represent Australia in global ballet comp, the Prix de Fonteyn. The new season isn't due until 2012, but for now, you can catch repeats of the first season on ABC1.
Dead Gorgeous (ABC1, 5pm weekdays)
Dead Gorgeous is a British/Australian show about three dead sisters from the Victorian era who get a second chance at life. Awaking 150 years after they died in a carriage accident, the girls have to try to fit into our modern world. The young teens find that their family's manor house has been turned into a boarding school and so without a home they sign up for school. It's very sweet, and has great morals on the preciousness of life and how to handle the quagmire that is high school.
It's Academic (Seven, 4pm weekdays)
It's Academic is a game show that sees teams of Year 6 kids representing their primary school by answering questions on English, maths, geography, sport, music, science, general knowledge and pop culture. It's a great show that not only entertains kids, but also help them learn (without them even realising it!)
Escape from Scorpion Island (ABC3, on hiatus)
Now this is a fun show. A mixture of Man vs. Wild and Survivor, Escape from Scorpion Island sees British and Aussie kids compete in various challenges in order to help them escape from an island they've been marooned on. It's fantastic adventure watching, with 11- to 14-year-old kids battling against each other in daring activities to win the competition. Every season sees the location, challenges and storylines change, keeping things fresh and interesting.
Everyday Gourmet With Justine Schofield (TEN, 4pm weekdays)
Does your child dream of being the next Junior MasterChef? Maybe watching former Masterchef contestant Justine Schofield whip up fabulous meals after school will give them the confidence and skills they'll need to be the next Isabella -- it can't hurt!
Prank Patrol (ABC3, 8:30am Saturdays)
In this hilarious show, kids nominate a friend to pull a prank on. Each episode revolves around the planning and execution of a prank, with the help of the host Scott Twedie and his friendly ninjas -- usually with quite amusing results. Experts in the field of the chosen prank also assist the team, and actors (hired to play policemen, horrified bystanders, etc) are involved to make the prank more realistic. It's a great show for children to watch, as long as the don't-try-this-at-home philosophy is employed! The first season of the show was so successful that an extended second season is in the works, with filming in Brisbane and Melbourne. So, we've got 39 new pranks to look forward to this year!