While Frontline is the name of a serious news program on American public television, in Australia it is a satire of Australian television current affairs. This show ran for three 13-episode series of half-hour shows on the ABC in 1994, 1995, and 1997. The show was written, directed, and produced by the tight-knit team of Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner, Rob Sitch, and Santo Cilauro, also behind several popular Australian films, sketch comedy, and panel discussion shows during the 1990s. Kennedy, Sitch, and Cilauro also acted on the show, as well as Tiriel Mora, Alison Whyte, and several other notable Australian actors.
The show followed the machinations of the fictional current affairs show Frontline. Ruthless producers, an airhead host, and ambitious journalists resorted to all sorts of underhanded tricks to get ratings--not to mention making themselves look good for the network bosses. However, what gave the show its true impact was that the stories and actions of the journalists were often thinly disguised version of real events and individuals--indeed, it was common for real-life newsmakers to have cameos on the show. The show also developed a trademark style of throwing often blackly comic twists into episode conclusions.
Frontline was also notable for its use of hand-held consumer video cameras, giving the impression of a fly-on-the-wall documentary to much of the series. This was cleverly contrasted with the slick production of the fictional show the series was based around.
Frontline is credited with ending something of a "Golden Era" (in terms of ratings rather than actual quality of the shows) for Australian current affairs, as audiences who watched Frontline found it impossible to take real current affairs shows seriously. Ratings of these real shows thus declined significantly afterwards.