Friday, July 14, 2006

The Friday Rant: New Media Laws

Its come to my attention that our Federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan looks something akin to an escaped, animated figure from Madam Tausauds. This is not comforting.

Our new media ownership and broadcasting laws were unveiled by said-puppet yesterday. Interesting lot of things it was too. In a nutshell, this is what media junkies can expect from as early as next year (you can read the full plan on her website here):

- Digital TV take up deadline now extended to 2010-12 instead of 2008
- Two reserved digital channels for new digital services such as mobile television or new in-home services;
- Permit commercial free-to-air television stations to broadcast one standard definition multichannel from 2009, and to allow full multichannelling no later than the time of digital switchover;
-Remove the “genre” restrictions on the types of programming which can be shown on ABC and SBS multichannels;
- Reform the anti-siphoning scheme by introducing a “use it or lose it” system for sporting events on the list to commence on 1 January 2007;
- Relax the current restrictions on cross-media ownership subject to safeguards that will ensure no fewer than five independent “voices” remain in metropolitan markets and four in regional markets, upon Proclamation on a date to be determined in 2007

Our minister quite proudly proclaimed that these key changes could give us, the teevee loving public of Australia, up to 30 new channels to choose from.

Lets think about that. 30 Channels.

I don't think there is good enough programming on the five free to air channels we have now. And you want to bombard us with this shit across 30 of the fuckers? Hell no! More does not necessarily mean less in this case, though a convincing argument could be heard that it does if you are talking about quality. There is one faint glimmer of hope - that Big Brother will get its OWN dedicated channel and stop snorting up every other free second of programming across all networks like Kate Moss and Pete Dougherty on a coke binge. And come on - I know you idolise the UK/US way of managing teevee but we just DONT HAVE THE POPULATION.

The extension of the digital tv deadline isn't really a surprise. We're a sceptical lot down here in Oz, and I wouldn't be surprised if even by that deadline we only have about 50% uptake or something silly.

Lifting the current genre restrictions on ABC2 etc is probably a good move. As much as the cool music docos and live performances have been, it'll be good to get our grubby mits on even more diverse presentation.

The anti-siphoning bit is something I'm still trying to make sense of. I know, I know, the majority of our bogan population would shrivel and die without adequate access to sport. But taking it OFF free to air just because its not used? On one hand, we have an agreement which could, feasibly, see a steep rise in the number of imported programs slotting straight into our programming. And it will happen - free trade agreement with the US of A or even just the big companies being bought up and then spewing forth whatever they can lay their hands on. On the other hand it might force the channels to screen it - no one wants to lose sport, right? Might not have a choice in the end. If you pitted one of the free-to-air channels against a Foxtel or something in a bidding war...who do you think will win? Yep. Didn't think it would be Sir Eddie or Channel 9. Expect cherry picking of sport to happen.

The removal of the cross media ownership laws are probably the biggest 'aspect' of these reforms. I don't get it - the government wants to open up the country to foreign media investment and reap big bucks, but then it slaps down this "5 in the city, 4 in the country" rule. What the...? Look, I might not like the idea, but if you're going to have an idea at least do it properly and don't be half assed about it. "This will allow strong competition and ensure there is no monopoly". Hang on...couldn't a monopoly provide you with oodles of cash if it comes with the right company?

Watch this space. Or more importantly, that little black box in the corner of your lounge room.

On other topic, let's look at those who are surrounded by sand. I don't intend to dwell too much on events in the Middle East, suffice to say it's pretty much gone balls up - again - for the 'nth' time in a couple of years. But doesn't it just remind you a little of that famous skit from South Park with Stan's Uncle Jimbo doing the whole hunting thing?!




Just a little bit similar. Sick inspiration.

Posted by Dave The Hat :: 3:18 PM :: 0 Comments:

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