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Media reform--back to the past « Previous | |Next »
March 19, 2006

John Quiggin has a good post on Senator Helen Coonan's discussion paper. That paper supposedly provides a good road map for the proposed media reforms in Australia, and suggested that media technology would enhance the diversity of content.

Adopting the worthy perspective of competitive markets against the media monopolists Quiggin states:

...that we now have the worst of both worlds: lots of intervention, but in the interests of monopolists, not the public...The interests of the Australian public in diversity, choice and competition have been disregarded completely. Such a deal could never have been pushed through an Opposition-controlled Senate.

We would have had a better media policy as it would have been more receptive to consumer interests. What Howard and Coonan are proposing is one that takes us back to the past away from a digital world by offering the conventional free-to-air broadcasters shelter from the internet storm. So we are going to get even more reformated news gathered by fewer journalists in the corporate media wth us bloggers providing more commentary.

Quiggin observes that:

It is dismaying to think about all the options that are being foreclosed here. We could have dozens of channels, limited only by the availability of content to fill them (a limitation that is becoming steadily less severe as the digital revolution reduces the costs of creating video). There are all sorts of possibilities for niche services, most of which will never see the light of day. Instead we are being offered the same half a dozen options we’ve had for more than a decade: three commercial free to air networks, two public broadcasters and Foxtel monopoly, with some grudging extensions for datacasting.

The conventional television media and new players (Macquarie Bank?) will shift to, and launch, new niche datacasting delivery services but these platforms will not deliver more diversified sources of news.

Still a new market is developing beyond Coonan's horizon, and it is driven by young consumers. My judgement is that consumers are deserting analog television for shows downloaded over the internet, just as they are doing with their music, thereby opening the door to media diversity. High speed broadband is the key, given that iPod's are capable of showing TV shows and playing music downloaded from the US. That indicates the possibility of a flood of content coming in from overseas, and Australia falling behind in the production of digiital content for interactive TV, mobile phones and broadband.

The free-to-air media companies are going to become increasingly irrelevant as the changes in the market place deepen.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:23 AM | | Comments (0)