Convergent Media Policy:
The Australian Case
Paper presented to European Communications Research and Education
Association...
Media Policy and Regulation: Time for a
New Paradigm?
• Drivers of change
–
–
–
–

Media globalisation
Media convergence
U...
The ‘public interest’ regulation model
• „Regulation is established in response to the conflict between
private corporatio...
Challenges to the ‘public interest’ model
• Economic capture theories: regulatory failure as
agencies „captured‟ by their ...
The Challenges of Convergence
• „Australia‟s policy and regulatory framework for content
services is still focused on the ...
Verticals and horizontals

6
Changing Broadcasting Content Landscape
Australian Media Policy Reviews
Policy Dimensions of Media Convergence
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Who are „the media industry‟?
Regulatory parity between old/new med...
Media Concentration and Influence
• Historically we have measured media concentration in
terms of structure of an industry...
Regulatory parity
• Commercial broadcasters in Australia subject to local
content rules through program quotas
• Convergen...
Assessing media influence
• At what point does a media content provider become “big
enough” for regulation to be warranted...
Regulatory radicalism of convergent
media policy
•
•
•
•

Use of an „influence‟ threshold
Regulating on the basis of conte...
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Convergent media policy presentation

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Presentation to ECREA Communications Law & Policy conference, 26 October 2013

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  • In an overview of Australian broadcasting and telecommunications regulations undertaken for the Convergence Review, the ACMA (2011) identified 55 ‘broken concepts’ in current legislation, including: the concept of ‘influence’ in broadcasting; the ‘Australian identity’ of media owners’; the concept of a ‘program’ in broadcasting; the distinction between a ‘content service provider’ and a ‘carriage service provider’ in relation to the Internet; regulations specifically applied to activities such as telemarketing or interactive gambling. At the core of these ‘broken concepts’ was the manner in which digital convergence is making media services and content increasingly independent of particular delivery technologies; its central regulatory consequence is that ‘regulation constructed on the premise that content could (and should) be controlled by how it is delivered is losing its force, both in logic and in practice’ (ACMA, 2011: 6).
  • Convergent media policy presentation

    1. 1. Convergent Media Policy: The Australian Case Paper presented to European Communications Research and Education Association (ECREA) Communications Law & Policy Workshop 2013, Mediacity UK, Salford Quays, Salford, Manchester, UK 25-26 October 2013 Terry Flew Professor of Media and Communications Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia
    2. 2. Media Policy and Regulation: Time for a New Paradigm? • Drivers of change – – – – Media globalisation Media convergence Uncoupling of content and delivery platforms User-created conent • The mass communications regulation model – Licenced broadcasting – Ownership, content and standards regulations – Public service media
    3. 3. The ‘public interest’ regulation model • „Regulation is established in response to the conflict between private corporations and the general public. The creation of regulatory agencies is viewed as the concrete expression of the spirit of democratic reform‟ (Horwitz 1989, 23). • „Policy formation in this, as in other fields, is generally guided by a notion of the „public interest‟, which democratic states are expected to pursue on behalf of their citizens. In general, a matter of „public interest‟ is one that affects the society as a whole (or sections of it) rather than just the individuals immediately involved or directly affected‟ (van Cuilenburg and McQuail 2003, 182).
    4. 4. Challenges to the ‘public interest’ model • Economic capture theories: regulatory failure as agencies „captured‟ by their clients • Capitalist state theories: state faces contradictory pressures for accumulation and legitimation – rise of neoliberal ideologies • Does technological change and greater consumer choice favour the neoliberal option • Internet libertarianism and the local/global split – „you can‟t regulate the global Internet‟
    5. 5. The Challenges of Convergence • „Australia‟s policy and regulatory framework for content services is still focused on the traditional structures of the 1990s – broadcasting and telecommunications. The distinction between these categories is increasingly blurred and these regulatory frameworks have outlived their original purpose‟ (Convergence Review 2012: vii). • „The industry is going through fundamental change in technology, in business models and in corporate structures. It has become a single industry, thoroughly converged and integrated. Yet it continues to be regulated under … separate Acts, which date from 20 years ago. Authority continues to be divided among different departments and agencies‟ (Konrad von Fickenstein, CRTC Chair, quoted in Theckedath and Thomas 2012, 4).
    6. 6. Verticals and horizontals 6
    7. 7. Changing Broadcasting Content Landscape
    8. 8. Australian Media Policy Reviews
    9. 9. Policy Dimensions of Media Convergence 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Who are „the media industry‟? Regulatory parity between old/new media Equivalent treatment of content across platforms Threshold of media influence Relationship between „media content‟ and personal communication
    10. 10. Media Concentration and Influence • Historically we have measured media concentration in terms of structure of an industry/market (e.g. HHI index) • Is there a crisis of the media moguls? • Rise of two-tier digital media structure – large ICT integrator firms at the core (Google, Apple, Microsoft etc.) surrounded by specialist content producers • The traditional media giants in various „frenemy‟ relationships to the large ICT players
    11. 11. Regulatory parity • Commercial broadcasters in Australia subject to local content rules through program quotas • Convergence Review (2012) recommended a Converged Content Production Fund as a levy that could be an alternative to program quotas • Are „old media‟ rules suitable for „new media‟? – Google have argued that professional/user-generated content distinction is blurring online
    12. 12. Assessing media influence • At what point does a media content provider become “big enough” for regulation to be warranted in relation to ownership and content without this inhibiting content innovation and freedom of communication? • Simple media power: Murdoch, Berlusconi etc. • Complex media power: net neutrality, data mining • Convergence Review proposed Content Service Enterprises (CSEs): „the focus of regulation is significant enterprises that provide professional content to Australians‟ – Professionally produced content – Significant revenues from Australian-produced content – Significant Australian audience and/or number of users
    13. 13. Regulatory radicalism of convergent media policy • • • • Use of an „influence‟ threshold Regulating on the basis of content rather than platforms Cross-industry application of regulatory measures Different history and architecture of the Internet as compared to print and broadcast media • At the heart of these are questions if what media influence now means in a convergent media environment, where the relationship between the provider and the platform is a shifting one, and where new media companies are as much enablers of content distribution as they are producers of media content.

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