Project Timeline 2005–2010

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Proof of Concept Phase – Interview C

Categories: Interviews, Proof of Concept Interviews, Support Material
Date: 21 April 2005

Andy Lloyd-James: We can stop anytime that you want to stop at all. Okay. so the first question was, television is clearly going to change over the next 10 years from what we’ve see now. What are the… what do you see as the key issues that will lead to that change, over the next 10 years?

Interviewee: Yes, I… I think there is two incredibly interesting bits of evolution in consumer equipment or have it that’s going on which are very important to the future of television. One is what people are putting in the corner of their sitting rooms, and the other is what they are carrying around in their pockets, and I suppose the way I look at the sitting room one is that, for an increasing number of consumers but not all consumers, there’s a lot of momentum here, plenty of people who just want to watch TV until they drop. Increasing numbers of consumers, the screenings come clear of the television, it becomes like a stick piece from a hi-fi, and then you pick what you put in there, and for me it might be my camera, for you it might be some sort of broadband thing, or DVDs or whatever, or for somebody else it might just be television. And television is becoming just another pipe into this screen, and I’m seeing that screen go in Pay TV, except they’re going wide but then after that they’re going HDTV, I think it is very much about picture quality. And I think television is increasingly going to be another pipe, just another way of entertaining yourself using that beautiful screen, which is going to get increasingly beautiful. So I see the decision to give that MP2 [xxxxx] a very powerful protector for the industry going forward. Then I think that is what is happening, people are investing thousand or tens of thousands of dollars into that corner of the room, and television increasingly is competing with the other things that you can run off that screen, and I don’t know what things are going to be there but I am anticipating that things like… not just Pay TV but also HDTV, DVDs and things like that are going to be crowded into that space along with multi-media products and things like that, competing for eyeballs. Now, so television has to improve just to stay put, and even staying put it’s going to have to squeeze along the bench, because that display is going to fit more and more and more attractive broadband and beautiful applications on it. So that’s what’s becoming with television, it’s becoming the pre-eminent to present advertising media and but increasingly just a very important one, yeah. So I think the analogy is going on inside people’s pockets, instead of putting $5,000 in one hit into a beautiful screen, people are putting $800 or $1,000 every 18 months or 2 years in this pocket, like they’re disguising that inside their telephone package. Now, that’s not immediately important to the enjoyment of television although the issue initiative might be in the back-channel, but I see the next generation of digital, the arriving generation and for Windows Media Player and so on, plus DVDH as meaning that potentially television is going to be there on those devices, in the next 10 years.


DVD is the family of digital video broadcasting standards come out of Europe [xxxxx] for visual terrestrial television. DVDH is its answer to basically radio. It’s the seemingly robust version of DVD that it can be received in the mobile environment. So DVDH is digital broadcasting in a broadband channel [xxxxx] for mobile platforms. And one can see, I mean the manufacturers of receivers want to start selling these things, they want telephones that have got televisions in them. The industry is far, far behind I think the business models, the things… what consumers actually pay for, how they’ll pay for it, whether it’s through advertising or whether it’s through subscriptions, all that’s unclear and I think in most countries, there is not even a spectrum yet for these DVDH Channels. Some of the European countries I think see it just as part of the analogue dividend. But I suppose what I’m saying is the rapid evolution of what we carry around with us, that I suppose used to be the phone is now maybe the personal organisers or the Blackberry of the phone or whatever, it’s going to pick up television as well, and it’s going to become an important site, an increasingly important site for television as well. What people… television is going to become another pipe into what people carry around with them, as well as what people enjoy in the corner of their room.


So I’d expect over 10 years, this screen on the mobile, that is television has an opportunity, if it gives TV a chance I suppose to compete with traditional things people get on the train, like read the tabloids. I think DVDH says, “Here comes television – watch out tabloid newspapers”.


Because TV and multi media is coming through, and people may be a lot happier watching the cricket on Nine on the train in future than on reading about the match in the tabloid newspaper.


What was the question?

Well, you said something brilliant, I mean the question was what the key issues are, just before we go on though, you said something fascinating earlier when you said that you felt the industry was well behind on this, so I’m assuming that the sort of broadcasting production industry was well behind on this, because… what we’re talking about is a lot of content.


And that presumably, one of the things you say there is this enormously diversified content being one of the real changes.

Well um, I think it’s really… I think the future is here, with the corner of the sitting room.


People are getting more and more content from more and more sources, and the DVD, and Pay TV are going to squeeze television’s life [xxxxx], and they’re the harbingers – DVD, multi media is already here.


What you do will be a very personal choice, I think. I think the same thing is happening with mobile, we’re just not yet thinking of mobile as a site for television.


If you like, the roles are reversed. This is where television is the aggressor. TV point to multi point Digital Television Broadcasting and Digital Multi Media Broadcasting I think can come the other way. It can get onto these platforms and start to entertain people as they travel and in so-called peak time. Now all I’m meaning about the industry being far behind is that I feel that this is being driven by the Nokia’s and the Samsung’s, that this [xxxxx] the manufacturers. I have picked up and handled the beautiful little clam shells that Nokia make and that Samsung make where you watch pretty little TV image, and you’ve still got… there’s some problems. Okay? If you want a telephone that runs out of batteries after 2 years… 2 hours, they’re working on having 2 separate batteries you know, they’re still solving those warts, but they reckon it’s there, they reckon they’ll sell a trillion of them, or make a trillion dollars out of it anyway. The TV industry is a long, long way behind, it’s looking at that, and it’s saying, well we should have the content. What are people going to want to watch? We’re not sure. Is it the cricket? Is it the news? We do those things, you know, we have those. Sometimes we have a monopoly.


With the cricket, we do! with the news may be not, you know.


But in terms of where the world is at based on my listening to this, which is the hot issue at IBC this year in Amsterdam, my feeling was that globally, the position is…this is a great idea, we’ve got to get those input four licences out so we can make the MP4 devices, we’ve… in many countries we’ve got to get the spectrum, so we can run DVDH Channels and maybe that won’t happen till the early teens of the 21st Century when this infiltration [xxxxx] a number of major economies will really start switching analogue off, and yielding the digital dividend. Now that is going to free up I think very, very valuable UHF spectrum for mobile applications which are going to really benefit from the ability of UHF to penetrate through buildings and propagate that over very large distances. And whatever the beneficiaries… we’re not… it’s not… So Samsung and Nokia ready to make devices but there is a whole lot of issues about where the spectrum will be, what the business models will be, about what kind of point and multi point broadband material is going to be going out to those devices, and what duration we’ll buy. Now, I just assume television is going to be there so I think television loses ground in the sitting room, but it has the potential to invade the mobile environment, but how that invasion will occur, I guess is a little bit unclear. I mean that’s…

[xxxxx] that’s fascinating, presumably for that to happen, that’s going to require political movement of some kind.


Normally, in terms of business plans.

Yeah, it will be that familiar picture you get of institutions digesting change, and delaying things while they attempt to negotiate the best possible terms of entry for themselves, which we in Australia are particularly familiar with, with broadcasting, perhaps more familiar than we’d like to be you know.

Do you see, from your travelling around the place, do you see common standards coming out of this or do you see… do you see us being faced by a whole range of standards? You know, in the old sort of Sony, Beta, VHS? Or does the international world determine that…

Look, the problem I’ve got here is that I’m seeing a high level of convergence between broadcast and telecommunications.


Particularly in this mobile space where broadcasting has a lot to offer, it can take on the papers, it can take on I think… Fuji Mobile has really just faint into the direction of broadband entertainment, television has got the goods.


That’s my feeling. I am reluctant to generalise too far into that telecommunications world, because I think this… the users of the analogue dividend, the users of the channels that are free once analogue starts to switch off, not here perhaps, but certainly everywhere else, are going to be heightened… they’re going to be telecommunications services that are broad… you know, [xxxxx] and of broadcasting it along, I think the DVD family experience, a lot of Asian companies are hailing it as this is where the future is, but even in this mobile space, there is an alternative contender, Eureka has been… the radio technology has been turned into DMB, which is the Korean version of Eureka rebadged to carry television or data, rather than just radio and data. I’m seeing I suppose that quite small number of digital systems, being the likely candidates to introduce point to multi point broadband content to mobile devices but there is going to be plenty of competition in that space, I mean once you start talking about portable, you start to talk about what’s happening with Y-Fi, there’s Y-max. And I don’t understand some of what this is, once you’re talking – even when you accept you have a standard like DMB or DVDH, there is a whole lot of issues about what compression standard you use, whether you use MP4 or whether you use Windows Music Players or whether somebody designs a new one, I don’t know how that will all go and I think there will be different systems that use different parts of the spectrum, and have different strengths and there will be market decisions. In every country they’ll be particular weaknesses and strengths and you’ll get particular choices, so I don’t think it will be a completely standardised world and I think it’s a little bit outside my… I don’t feel I have the same sense of the totality of telecommunications and broadcasting as I do just inside the little broadcasting space that I’m unfamiliar with.

We’ll stay with that broadcasting space, the…

I suppose in the sitting room I don’t. I mean well obviously the sitting room is the simple answer to the problem competing standards issue, you have the notion of a separate display and I think for richer consumers, that’s where they’ll… that’s where they’re moving. Displays like the [xxxxx], it doesn’t matter if you have got a DVDH… a DVD… DVD, free-to-air television but Pay uses a different standard, yeah and the camera is usually the third standard, you just need another box.

What that… one of the things that suggests those outcomes, I mean the model we’ve had, well at least not in its entirety but roughly the model we’ve had is that original programming in this country has tended to be based for television broadcasters or for [xxxxx] as being a distributed and exhibited in that way, which to some extent has guaranteed quality, or whatever quality you can find out of it, but it’s also limited the number of people who can actually talk through audiences…

Yet, and all of the big change I suppose that’s occurred is that the DVD has created a new market for both those products…


… and it’s actually a common market. And then television is very big winner out of the DVD at the moment. It doesn’t seem to be suffering the sort of problems radio is having with piracy, and so is movies.

Yeah. But the other things that is essentially happening at the same time, looking at things like i-Pods is the development of a notion that you have… you have a central if you like, non-broadcasting simply central library, that you can dump down to you or me or whatever, but you know which has not necessarily ever been near one of the standard exhibiters or the distribution chains.

Well the analogist developments for TV, I mean I’ve mentioned the DVD.


We can’t be far away from the point to point downloader, that is the… I mean I don’t see a fundamental difference between a… an on-demand retailer of digital movies or TV programs, and a video shop, it’s just whether you do it as a telecommunications service or by running a shop.


So that process is well advanced with television and movies as well, to explore the realm that we’re aware of.

But when you… the only reason I’ve raised it is because I have been talking with some producers, who see for themselves… these are documentary producers who are looking at a gradually closing market in this country, and in many countries as far as broadcasting is concerned. What they’re becoming increasingly conscious of though is that there is an audience and they’re all [xxxxx], instead of being dispersed within this country it’s actually dispersed around the globe.


And that if they can find access to those interesting people, the business plans are actually quite doable.

Well I mean… The thing that everybody focuses on is that music being narrowband, is it the harbinger? It’s certainly had… many of us have had one experience of digitisation and the ability of telecommunications to carry music from user to user. And that experience has been largely a negative one for the equivalent of documentary makers in the music scene, which I guess is people making music! And that’s because it’s been impossible – it has made it a lot harder for the traditional revenue model to work. It’s undermined the points at which tolls are charged, and you get reward. Now for whatever reason that hasn’t yet occurred with television or movies, but the reason, a large part of the reason would have to be that this is an enormously fatter thing and that broadband as it’s currently spoken about is so narrowband, and compression is at such an early or primitive sparage, that you can’t actually, easily fit movies into the sort of files people are swapping about. Having said that, I’ve heard the observation and I don’t know whether it’s true, but I‘ve head the observation that this sort of capacity we now have in our homes, and the sort of fatness of the files that carry the movies and docos, is it about the stage it was when music started to really cook as a digital telecommunications product. Now, certainly your review of industries have noticed… have seen what’s happened to music.


And they’re determined that won’t happen to them, and I don’t… I mean the vast amounts of money by people a lot smarter than me are going into trying to delay, minimise and mitigate against that steady rodent. But I think, it would seem to me now, the threshold of that downloading, as a viable method of distribution sale, copying and so on, whether legal already or whatever.


So there is a lot of question marks I want to put… but the thing that got me [xxxxx] is that, yes there is this global opportunity emerging and there has got to be… capacity is getting greater and greater, size of files are getting smaller and smaller but the revenue models are… I’m certainly I mean that’s… I suppose that would be my second thing, looking at your questions for television and it’s a related subject is that the revenue models are coming under threat and while there is lots promised, the different revenue models, there are untested or untried or they’re only just now being tested and tried and we don’t really know it. And those questions are very profound and I can make observations on them but they are a bureaucrat observations, they’re not…

I’d love your [xxxxx]…

Well I suppose, the…

I’m just checking to see if this is doing what…

Yes I did. I suppose the really interesting notion that I picked up over that last couple of years is that American commercial television, which is a very different situation from ours, is nearing a kind of a chipping point, which has potentially quite catastrophic implications for the business model. The idea being that in America TV has suffered an erosion from being the dominant medium and it’s got smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller in terms of just its sheer share of eyeballs at prime, and that nevertheless, its advertising revenue has held up very well and that’s what caused the good programs to be made to lure people back. But the TEVO and other technologies make it easier and easier to zap ads, are pushing the industry, the advertising industry and advertisers towards the point where a significant percentage of advertisers may decide that they cannot be certain that this is an effective strategy, that the teeny broadcasters cannot prove to them, cannot show to them that their advertising is working, or even that their advertisements are being seen, and the fear is in the U.S that when the tipping point comes, there will be a progressive withdrawal of advertising revenue from TV which will in turn set up a reinforcing cycle by reducing the amount of money available for production and if television, free-to-air television will go into a crisis. Now whether or not that has actually occurred in the U.S I don’t know, and I’ve made the observation that it must be much further away… but further down that path, if there is a path, than Australia’s TV is for a whole lot of reasons.


But, that’s actually quite an interesting thing to bear in mind, when you look at what’s happening in Australia. Certainly in Australia the industry seems to have worked very hard and very long to delay the arrival of ad zapping technology. And this is where Pay TV is the thread here, because Pay TV… digital program storage for digital like an EPG is not a threat to Pay TV.


It’s a new service that we sell, for another $10 a month they could offer me a 100 hours a month straight off the EPG programs that I could just set and store, that might very well be an attractive business offer. And it’s a very, very threatening one for Seven, Nine and Ten, if it means that Seven, Nine and Ten’s programs are not being watched in real time and they can’t show through their rating sheets that I’m actually watching the ads or worse, if I’m actually able to zap the ads with Norton, and once you move to a non real time that’s… that migration away to non real time seems to be a real potential challenge for the commercial TV business model. So what I’m saying is that… what I get from that is that things like live events, which you have to watch in real time are going to be… have to increase in value because they’re the last places where you can actually be certain that this amazingly powerful brand building medium can still actually work. But a lot of other kinds of television which don’t require real time are facing really extraordinary problems with the advertising model because their tract audience is getting it free and they’re having increasingly difficulties proving to their advertisers that they’re getting any traction from their advertising. And there is always a danger that we might find ourselves facing this self-winning force and collapse of the commercial TV revenue model. This is where I feel I’m right out of my field, because this is the kind of stuff that I’d expect you know…. Tim Anderson and so on to be worried about and what would I know about it? But, what I did see as an outsider is that television has already been very creative in opening up very new kinds of revenue and these new waves within revenue are incredibly powerful, for example the work that is being done with SMS, people are sending… it can be you know actually vast responses to queries but for SMS feedback can be elicited – voting for ‘Australian Idol’.

And Big Brother.

They will pay 50 cents a shot for it. You can get everybody in a room competing. You like the black performer, I like that fat performer because I feel sorry for him and we compete and we’re paying 50 cents a throw, and you can stitch up fantastic deals… you know in which you’re… you know you can get the pizzas into the act, you know you can actually have the on screen advertisement for the [xxxxx] that goes with the reality TV program and you can get $100,000 entry price to Pizza Hut and you can treble their revenues for the evening and…


These are very powerful new ways of making money out of television I would have thought, which don’t rely on a captive audience for 6 long dreary ads. Whether or not that’s going to push the industry into making a different kind of programming, I’m not a profound enough thinker already to really care enough about the medium to really do it. But I would have thought that there would be questions about what sorts of TV that actually favours.


It may be no coincidence for example, that they’re making the money out of Australian Idol. Maybe drama has got its problems here. Drama doesn’t have to be in real time, drama you don’t want to be interrupted during a drama, you don’t want to have someone nagging you to send an SMS thing. What you actually want to do is intermark it with ads. Now there might be some quite interesting issues here, that TV is going to progressively forced into new and clever ways of making money, of which the [xxxxx] contenders seem to back channels, the SMS back channel, that’s if there’s competitions for example, voting, those sorts of things, or exploring synergies inside wider corporate groups. Channel Nine seems to be very big on that. They’re building in, you know if you have a magazine called ‘House and Garden’ and you have a program called ‘House and Garden’, that should be great, you know. That’s why I can’t work out Channel Ten and Fairfax, it’s a great idea but I just don’t see the Financial Review program on Channel Ten really pulling them in, and vice a versa. But they’re maybe they’ll take the… or maybe they’ll take the [xxxxx] pages further downmarket or team upmarket but… yeah I mean there’s got to be… you can bet the networks are making a… are exploring the potential for other ways of making money out of the medium, but what those other ways are have all… you know, they may require… they may favour a different kind of programming compared to the old ad, ad model and they maybe in the long run not be as lucrative for all I know as well. So very interesting to look at how these changes are going to the revenue model, but threats and the new opportunities are going to change the nature of television, the nature of the kinds of programs you make for television. But it’s just… this is where I just… I don’t have to worry about this stuff…


I don’t have the kind of specific knowledge to really…

But with your formal hat on, it presumably raises some or will raise some issues in terms of what the commercials in the future may or may not be regulated to is to provide and in turn because it’s such a nicely balanced set that we have across the [xxxxx], what that might, might or might not lead people to think about public broadcasting.

I think there’s a heap of your… do you mean national broadcasting?

Nationally, yes. Public service broadcasting.

Yes, It’s probably worth saying national broadcasting is an addictive category, I mean it’s not threatened by these directions, I’m actually saying they may actually be helped by them in some ways.

It should be.

I mean it certainly is in Britain… it just… whatever happens, the BBC just emerges a larger and larger juggernaut.

But up until now.

Yes. yes, I’ve always felt that the… that… the changes so far have tended to be neutral or even beneficial for the ABC, which has got the brand to be a global beacon for Australian content, for people downloading anywhere on the planet, you know?


If this on the other hand, I think made a lot more sense before TARBS, and broadband made it quite easy for me to create an all Arabic environment for my family, if I felt strongly about it in my home.


Why would I want to watch 2 hours a night of Arabic programming with the yellow English at the bottom.


It would just be digital. But that’s the question SBS has got to answer.

I know…

Really good answers to that, I mean. I mean what you were asking earlier was are there regulatory debates to these changes, then, yes, there is a multi…

I was… Clearly though, regulatory potential, it was really what I sort of got into was whether the regulation changes themselves are one of the issues that lie between us and 2010 or whether they will simply follow other processes, more direct political processes, more direct industry processes.

I think the… I think that probably the biggest regulatory imposition we’ve put on the industry at the moment is retaining [xxxxx] in the public ownership and preventing foreign or cross media holdings for television, I think that… everything I’ve described is about an intermixing of television with wider telecommunications.


And… there might be a lot of benefits, after all I’ve said about SMS business and SMS traffic and the potential feeding of protracted content to mobile platforms and so on and so forth, which are also going to be telephones. Freeing the market to think about are the relationship between television and telecommunications, is going to be linked to the greatest experimentation for business models, and I suppose it maximises the chance of getting something right. I tend to think that the cost media change which is looted for later this year, is a domino dropping, that really is in a lot of ways the only reform you had to do for the time being, because it has the potential to radically change the number nature in self-perceived interests in the major media players. So you may find that many other aspects of that are apparently stable… you know, the equilibrium of regulatory interests just come unravelled.

Yeah, I can well imagine that, I mean looking at them… looking at them from various perspectives, you can see that there are enormous potential advantages and enormous potential… the reverse on the enormous potential advantages whatever, whether they might be a [xxxxx] on pages, they might be just nothing more or whatever, but it’s… it is in fact an enormously exciting period that 10 years.

Yes. yes.

I can detail it, I mean in terms of how you can deal with [xxxxx] all the way from how you can deal with a digital [xxxxx] to pay your [xxxxx]…

We’re actually all in the same boat. Television and Telcos they’re all facing radical assaults on their presumed revenue models, they are all facing very un… [xxxxx] about who their competitors will be, you know for Telstra at the moment, it’s voice over Internet protocol, and for television it’s these… it’s ad zapping, you know there are very obvious and certainly for both of them, it’s a multiplicity of new channels for communication and it’s disruptive.


Yes, these are disruptive technologies right at the centre, I mean throwing up opportunities right, left and centre and new synergies as well, and to the winners go the spoils. I’m… I don’t think I have any instinct for which I’ve got my doubts about Ten and Fairfax as a synergy.


And I think Telstra and particularly Optus ran a frightful lot of money down the drain exploring the idea of that you secure a monopoly on wanted content and you then use that to bundle with your… means that Telco broadband can actually, I mean the 90’s were just… that model of the converged content controlling Telco led to a lot of money being wasted, and whether it’s actually it’s ultimately an achievable thing is a little bit unclear. But just in… if you look at it though, there will be a lot of energy extended in Australian media by those players that are vertically integrated with telecommunications to actually keep me out of that one. Keep Fairfax’s content locally, because it just makes it that much harder. You know, and it’s good I suppose, the way that Fairfax and the ABC got a big amount of Pay TV in the early 90s as an example of how important it is to control moving into carriage.


Once you control the move to carriage, then you decide who provides the news for it, you don’t go to the best news providers at the moment, you tell them to f**k off!


I’m sorry…That’s what happens!

It’s made it clear, but it’s interesting that that whole converged thing because that’s clearly what Murdoch is coming out from the other end of the spectrum. No Nine and Ten in the spectrum, but I mean it’s fascinating to see how he’s first of all built himself almost a world production base.And then… and then he’s moving to the distribution because you know the [xxxxx] where he can and [xxxxx] basis as well.

Well, look at the energy he puts into the actual content of free-to-air, he’s gone to the point of buying a football team and…


And what I observed about the American typical viewing problem they’ve got. There does seem to be an immunity of live events, which sports has to be the best example. You know, if I were running the Pay TV network or a television service, I would be doing what I saw the Indonesians doing, for public community… I would be trying to encourage a love of sport amongst all these trading community, young you know, it’s a hard thing to encourage.

That really take us to number two, which is actually I think the hardest question on the list, but what for you is the most realistic and best outcome in 10 years time?

Well I thought it was hard because I wasn’t sure of my standpoint. I personally don’t have a great passion for television personally. As a bureaucrat, I guess I have a passion for a strong vibrant Australian economy.


And I think that television is an absolutely essential part of our cultural industries, our industrial capacity really. I worry that Australia is creating a generation full of creative people who want to be famous. But it’s actually a big coal-mine, and I see perhaps the U.K. and America doing the hard yards of hosting towards creation. I think that our children may very well take pleasure in moving to New York or London where the creation is being done if we’re not careful. My best outcome for television very much is about a powerful Australian content industry. I think that’s the opportunity. Popular and to love it, Australian content for 10 years time, employing and retaining creative talent and Australians are as creative and talented as these people, then I suppose that would be my… it’s not what you want to hear about this!

Well it is. I do very much because it’s very challenging because… and yet that is the thing that’s most at risk, it seems.

It is. I think it is at risk and we seem to face some real structural problems with our film and our television industries. Television has always been a great success you know, I think [xxxxx] for Australians has become Australian dominant… dominance sort of thing.

Yeah, that’s right.

It’s still true. Whether we need to continue to improve I suppose is the question for us. And I think part of the key to this investment, part of [xxxxx] the huge investment is competition.


But that’s…

[xxxxx] liberal…

Yeah, It’s also a will. I mean there has to be… there has to be a will… I mean I agree with you on two things absolutely clearly, first of all television is the high [xxxxx] in my life [xxxxx], you know is not my preferred means of spending my spare time. But like you I would be reaching for an absolutely sound, an economically sound and creatively sound base in 10 years time to know that this country could deliver its own stories to itself in whatever format we wanted to make it, and it’s doable, but it requires… it requires a will somewhere at the to end and say, this is what has to be the outcome. And to some extent… I’m sorry because I’m treading on your ground here, you’ll know this better that I, my understanding of what’s taking place in England at the moment is that OFFCOM, for example, is looking at enormously empowering the public broadcasting or public service broadcasting system, as a quid pro quo for not placing the same public service conditions upon the commercial broadcasters. That might be right or wrong, but it seems to me to be a very interesting thing that is being looked at there.

I think, I think always we’ve known that when other… I mean we’ve tended to leverage things like quotas out of… as quid pro quos, the other mob have [xxxxx] positions. If you lose your capacity for that, you might very well do that. And you lose it perhaps because the industry finds itself in such a [xxxxx] competition with the kinds of media that come in, but it loses its profitability for example, and at that point your ability to leverage your quid pro quos declines. Or maybe, we just had no choice but to have a [xxxxx] over the market and your channels at something. Always in the end you have the option of paying for local content, and to do that through the creation of that local space, and I think there’s… I think there’s… someone made an observation years ago at the height of the last round of hype about the Asian movement in the 90s before it all crashed, they compared Australia to Port [xxxxx] in both the population and economic size and said well you have to [xxxxx], but that perception was out of demographic [xxxxx] of Asia would be seen. And one of the indications they drew from that, was that Australians would, if they think like that, many Australians would feel threatened by that. It would make them insecure and it would cause them to turn back pleasure or value or firm or look for affirmation in Australian institutions. I would have thought the ABC would be thick in [xxxxx] the Australian government in play. But there is a very… that a strong public service broadcaster is one really obvious way a country can actually open up its markets, then its economy but guarantee certain wanted outcomes.

Mm, hmm.

And I actually just paid for them [xxxxx], you know slightly restricting competition that’s running a bit of power on the side before your quota.


And then that user…

Is limited. Yes.

Yeah, and that.. so that I mean I guess what one reads out of that is that that then requires a great deal of argument could be made about that as well as the issues for the future.

The tunnel really is that we’ve got so good at getting top rating attractive and appealing Australian content out of the commercials [xxxxx] through a system, which seems to run along, because everybody wants it to run that way, because people want to watch it, but it’s still helped along just keeping these current bounds by quotas. It would cost a fearful amount to transfer that obligation. Suddenly you’re eating slowly onto the public sector, there has been a running down of the relativities on the sides of public sector and the privately owned for many, many years and once, that’s larger I understand for the future private sector than it is now. So , I think it’s quite challenged to shift the mindset, I think for the time being we’re got very, very used to the idea that people will make it for profit quite happily. And a little bit of regulatory on the sides more to prevent aggression than anything else is all you need. And [xxxxx]. I wonder how long we have to see that come under threat of decline before it would be possible to get significant and larger amounts of money, because this is what I think is missing. Now look at the national broadcaster and I don’t see the pots of money that they need.


[xxxxx] just fast enough to buy great Australian drama.


I mean, it does carry a lot of high quality British material as far as I can see.

Yeah, yeah.

As it has done for many years.


CD C – 2

Interviewee: … worked on things like news and digital radio where you can really [xxxxx], your own margin rather than a cheapo.

Lloyd James: If one does se a change in media ownership in this country there is the likelihood that at least to some extent, that the media ownership which will involve people who have also had major media ownership and interests elsewhere in the world, the Murdochs and the [xxxxx] are an obvious example, and that in itself suggests that they themselves may have a considerably lower interest in actually delivering things like Australian drama. Simply because it won’t… I mean it won’t fit the model which they have structured themselves in terms of vertical integration of product content is more than that. So I suggest, you know…

I think… I suppose what I was saying earlier, it makes me wonder if drama isn’t systematically disadvantaged within the new world of products and platforms to regard. I think drama is poorly suited to mobile and [xxxxx] and things like that.


It’s certainly poorly suited to a number of the new business models except possibly product placement.


Product placement is really the only, it’s a rough sinister product so too, but it’s really the only new revenue model that in which really suits drama.

Yeah. The other thing… the other thing that drama runs [xxxxx] to, almost solely on television now in reality is attention spans.

Yes. Yes.

And even documentaries, if you look at ABC and SBS now are so much just more just coming in at 27minutes rather than 45 minutes.

You would have to say that it’s probably more under threat from the intellectual properties. No one is going to want to download, to make a [xxxxx] and pirate making sort of reality TV show.


So, very big problems for drama. And a very big [xxxxx] at issue for the national broadcaster, I think for the BBC in Britain.


In Australia the problem we’ve got is we’ve just gotten out of the habit of spending the most [xxxxx] of sums.

Yeah. Yes.

The sort of sums you would need and I am not sure there is the constituency there for it, there is in Britain and people are obviously happy with paying over the licence fees, because they…

Yes, and because they always have.

You know I… well I mean…

And it’s a monster change for them if it went away.

I would imagine.

Here it would be a change of… you talk about some preference of ours per annum, I mean in a very large number of hours.

It seems unlikely doesn’t it? I think the first… I think the instinctive response of the current Australian sort of legal system is going to be to see if it can’t… by nip and tuck and nudge, add a bit of a heavy subsidy, you know, in the training end and so on, the [xxxxx] concession end, just can help the poor old institute to its feet again and this is where I… I mean there’s a lot of other problems stuck around to here, and these are the problems about… between the 20 million investors sort of stuff, Geoffrey Adams got into… I always feel Geoffrey’s private opinion you can’t vote within each group and Geoffrey Adams explained the relativities in salary I can well understand why. In the United States, I would be going off to my course and have a lage chips too.

But why you would be doing it in order to keep busy, I’ve no idea now…

Here’s an idea now, Australia [xxxxx] the risk yet…

It’s astonishing. But I mean the whole question of us being 20 million people and I mean, was it… Costello I was reading the other day saying that demographics are destiny.


I don’t know whether it’s original to him, but it encapsulated it very nicely, and particularly if you assume a part of demographics as educational and literally [xxxxx].

I think… we’re saying all of us, I love change and, you know and new ideas in television, everybody does but TV is a very [xxxxx] regular graphic, I mean TV like newspapers has got a guaranteed business around demographics too.


People are adults for 60 years, I mean there is probably a… if our average age is about 40 something or other, 40… actually, no it’s the average age in Australia somewhere in their 30’s, but you could be pretty comfortable that for generations to come there is going to be a mass audience, so you’d go on being led…


… through a broadcast medium, I think it’s really at the exciting A&V younger demographic margins that all the damage gets done.


But the damage is probably permanent.

And the damage is… it can be significant as you say.


The worst outcome in 10 years time?

For the TV industry?

Mm, hmm.

I would have thought a crisis with locally produced content. The industry much more besieged by other media, and the real issue is that Australians perhaps don’t so much now want to watch the locally made stuff. I think… I’ll be very impressed if we saw a [xxxxx] a massive coming down for television [xxxxx] to secure a very… bottom of the market remaining audience, I think that would be a rather sorry outcome. But, you know I mean once again I don’t want to, as I said before, my interest in television is strictly professional as long as Australia is, you know Australians have got better things to do and they think it’s a wonderful outcome. And you know, I don’t propose to be watching vast amounts of television in 10 years’ time personally. I would regard it as a tragedy if my daughter didn’t. I would regard it as a tragedy if I could never pick up a decent Australian book or watch a good Australian film, or know that my daughter had to go to London in order to be a creative famous person.


That’s what I’d regard as a tragedy.

How old is your daughter?


Does she use television much?

Yes. Much.

Yes, like most…

Yes. Wants to famous, wants to be an artist or dancer or a…[xxxxx].


Work instinct.


Australian Idol is the most energising program.

Is that right?

For that generation I mean she felt very impressed when she watched that, so actually just an impression of what she wants.

Yeah, I hadn’t realised it was down to [xxxxx] adults.

It does. Very, very, very powerful and it goes… because that’s all I’m saying…

[xxxxx] going on.

I do believe that for whatever reason our whole way of raising children in particularly middle class, Australia is creating an extremely creative generation that would wish to live in and work in creative fields. I think if we create the wrong kind of economy. If we allow that work to be done in London or America or [xxxxx].

I know.

They’ll be on their knees for highly educated Australians that speak English in 50 years, we all know that, there’s another aspect of demographics being invested in. All the children in India and the Middle East, that’s where the children are. And we will be desperately on our knees begging for the best of those. But the ensuring exchange ability over an Australian child, first language English.


Westminster System, all the cultural affinities we have with the two most creative societies in the world – in the Western world – I think they’re just training them up. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people going the other way to work the mines and run the old people’s homes and all those things. But I have a very scared vision of Australians despite its increased size since World War II, might still remain a lovely place to come from. So we’ll [xxxxx] on a large scale and that would be a little sad.

Remains a [xxxxx]…

I hope it remains a lovely place and I hope it will always come to well above its weight. But I would wish for Australia that it be a place with a really dynamic, creative as well as a commodity.

That’s fascinating.

That’s what I am concerned about much more so than the fate of television, I really don’t give a stuff about that particular medium and shout it even… I mean the ABC faces these challenges too, if you don’t have TV you’ve lost a great community built medium, that [xxxxx].

Yeah, it’s fascinating because I mean people… I’ve never heard it put so… I mean there’s things I’ve never heard it put so neatly because people talk around the edges of what it is they’re talking about, but that’s fundamentally it. You’re building a set of desires and are not building a structure, which can satisfy those desires. And that’s a very dangerous thing to do.

To knock them in the structure part, Malcolm Long did a presentation to the Commonwealth Legal Aid Forum… well, not a kind of forum – an agency, sorry… late last year where he purported to graft the size of the creative economy for obviously… what was the impression because some of the software, accounting packages particularly programs, the whole works, his figures were 7% of the economy for the U.S, 5% for Britain, which I think is just a phenomenal catch up from there and 3% for Australia, well it’s right a bloody place to come from. And I just… I had to say… I see all around me, there may be some problem with the [xxxxx] account, that we’re creating creative people.


We’re celebrating building the… what it’s created in the new value add, far more so than the value there are in those things you get into approaching people from poorer countries, making a crust and making good and building a big boat so that you and your family and your in-laws, all those order of things that make first generation migrants so excited.


So useful you know… it’s not how… it’s not that we’re recreating infrastructure, we’re creating creators.


And that would be my little [xxxxx]. I understand… I do think that when you shut down competition to [xxxxx]… policies if [xxxxx] environmental current goals and you create, you create it what might go wrong if you let things go. One of the things you’re arguing is diverting money from profits into the pockets of the three rich families, which might have been going into a frenzy of production, much of it wasted but we should employing people like Mike, currently unemployed in her industry system, in the production industry and my brother in dramatics industry, or part of an impetus, but I mean…[xxxxx]

No, no, no, it’s established itself. Yes.

I think… I think competition comes… becomes desperate in the product and I think those experiments, you know, I mean interactive… a good example is interactive TV in a free-to-air environment, and most… Pay TV gets lost into the Pay environment to [xxxxx] control that channelling, providing that channel, you know, depicts some stuff for you. What it would mean in the free environment, I’m not at all sure, I think what’s happened with this, and this will probably be the answers to questions that there has been a lot of fuss about nothing really, because you just can’t really create through interactivity other than through an independent telecommunications provider acting on the direct relationship with the one broadcaster established that way.

So it is a direct relationship with an ongoing…

What I think, what I see is that the countries that are really the doctors that create… which create the models, I think the British… you know we try and get what we can through the British keenness to lead [xxxxx] and they would [xxxxx] so… but we’re a small country… well we’re not really, we’re a middle sized country.

I know.

We’re not exactly a small country.

No I know.

With a gigantic economy, we’ve got 20 million people, we can do a lot of things here.

I know but it can…

Keep above our weight… So often that is described as or categorised as only 20 million people. And you know 20 million people will provide you with an enormous amount of economic and creative opportunity if…

Do you need a pause for a minute or…?

(Break in recording)

ALJ: The significant events, which have brought television to its current stage? One of the things that interests me about that, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot and one of the things that interests me about this [xxxxx] and again you would know much better than I, my impression is that Australian television is largely a product of government and parliamentary will, more than in a sense American television or indeed more now in some sense the British television [xxxxx]. Maybe not in the British production because of the importance of the BBC. You know a government channel [xxxxx], but…

I think that’s right, I mean if you… television… very Australian decision, you introduce an extreme debate, you introduce it with careful negotiation with the institutions of the day and you choose the best system, very much pitched at… at the wishes of maybe the ordinary viewer rather than the elite, less beautiful [xxxxx] quality against the number of high quality channels that we get [xxxxx] anywhere you can end up with a different value on it.


Real estate was cheap. I think government has invested a lot of money in pushing the commercial sector further that it had gone, it’s… particularly in terms of coverage, you realise in this [xxxxx] field that really there were no regions that, you know in terms of regulation, we just let it rip.


Because the government has long recognised television and increasingly treated television as an attractive link from the inside, so it has subdivided and pushed and kept cosseted, aggregated and it’s black spotted and pure. It is really up to its neck in perceived by the inferent responsibility for the quality of the system there. People regard it as like hot and cold water and having that essential service and on that essential service they value intensely that it’s free. They don’t pay licence fees, that’s a government decision. So they don’t expect to pay a cent for it, they just expect to put up their hands, and various decisions, having got itself locked into this perception, having for so long I suppose identified with the provision of this free TV to as many Australians as possible, and getting the canonical selection programs to as many Australians as possible, where push comes to shove again and again, the parliament has moved to either introduce [xxxxx] digital through gigantic subsidies or to protect if from the competition. I think most importantly through the way that Pay TV was introduced and first of all the 36 years Australia, the Australian government decided because you could get [xxxxx] back, if it wasn’t in the public interest so we never developed Pay TV in the kind of organic way; when it was ready to come, it was developed in other countries. Then when we did introduce it – well, what makes Pay TV work certainly it’s with in its drama, its sport and possibly more for the adult material as well and since prohibited, and third we prohibited the first and now we see that it has failed to thrive, it’s underperformed Pay TV in any other conquerable country and that’s no coincidence I don’t think. It might be partly that it was done badly here. It might be partly that Pay TV has passed its moment and is now facing far stiffer competition, the same way that free-to-air is from other media – I’m sure there is some truth in that – but it’s also the case that the free-to-air people, you know there was a… because whatever you’re thinking eventually you’ve anti-syphoned in, it’s very popular politics, both sides play it and the only fight in this case by pasts… and I’ve never heard a politician shoot another politician on the basis of being over-regulatory there. I tend to think of free television as like three beaches. You know for Australians, there’s nothing disgusting more than the idea of a hotel owner who is bound because he goes [xxxxx]. Now I think our free-to-air television is [xxxxx] in terms of politicians play up to it. So I think politicians… the government has done a lot to build television, to increase its reach to aggregated so that we all get economical service to lock in those expectations, to… and also to mandate the quality of true things like, you know regulation of taste and decency, those are the things. And in return it’s then, when push has come to shove, protected its patch. And no one of us has actually spoken out against that, you’d think in theory the sports bodies were the losers for having not been able to sell twice the sums of Rupert Murdoch or something, but they don’t know about it, no one complained. So, yes I think that for whatever reason, television… this is, I think why the remarks I was making about the tipping points and the direction just don’t even apply here. The same forces maybe at work and we’re starting to run it from its new hub, that anywhere in the television system is enormously powerful and enormously economically powerful within the media it competes with, and you know, that evolution over time with government you can see really drove the power.

So it’s really, I mean it’s instinctive to the audience by now, that’s what I mean, I mean I love the analogy to the beach, the hotel on the beach.

Well, look something quite interesting happened a few years ago – Galaxy I think it was, fell over the hill and the result was that some Pay TV viewers lost their service altogether, the ones that reached it via satellite I think they lost their service. It’s amazing that no amount of revenue might actually splash back onto the government, because the government has been very successful I think in the early 90s in whatever else it did wrong, it certainly created, it gave a very clear impression that this was a market, and people didn’t blame the government when their TVs went blank.If peoples TVs went blank free-to-air, would it be the same story? I think particularly in rural Australia, government has put a lot into TV. I mean the biggest thing it’s pushing is that it pays for the ABC and the SBS, but you’ll find it’s also pushed hundreds of millions of dollars, not per year, but over decades, many hundreds of millions of dollars into the commercial systems of [xxxxx], and it’s protected it in order to… see it’s foster that quality, and I think it feels accountable for those outcomes. I think that has made the government very conservative. You know, much was made in 1997 and 1998 of, you know, the supposed deals between governments and particular moguls and for all I know such deals didn’t even occur, we don’t know what deals were made and what assurance was given, but I do know that government is accountable, feels accountable for the quality of that hot / cold water from the free-to-air Australia television. And it wasn’t an area of the economy where Compass Airlines was going to look particularly good for the government, and I think there were a lot of warts for the government in the kinds of things, you know in a lot of ways if we had really let things rip in the late 90s, it would have been great to be in Sydney, but what would have happened out in the bush as popular programs we’ve pinned to a fourth network that was only available digitally out of Sydney and who knows. I think it was, I’m not saying that made us right to take that very pretentious approach, I’m just saying it pays to remember that there are no prizes for government in other than the reliable delivery to as many people as possible, without the fear of the same programs as people perceived they’re being enjoyed in larger community, where they can prepare themselves. Very, very important. I gave a speech several years ago called ‘Turning off Mark Barrow” in which I really tried to make that point and said, notwithstanding that they’ve been transmitting on UHF, the same service that Mark Barrow’s Channel Three has been running for years and they don’t even know who was watching Mark Barrow, we’re probably talking about handfuls of people, it’s still one 50,000 volts or whatever it is pouring into that, that mast, and it was pouring out there because governments don’t like bad news.


Its like hot and cold water, they had enough to dock Mark Barrow [xxxxx] I really made a thing out of it and I said, and you’re proposing that we turn off the [xxxxx] quickly, as quickly as we can. Government will turn it off because industry will beat them to it one day, but the government I think has put so much in that it would be perceived in legal terms as responsible or accountable for what comes out. Now that really means…. I suppose really the digital TV policy in many ways shows all those characteristics that I’m talking about, it’s a policy, it’s the kind of law where instead of saying, we’re not going to allow this to happen, you say, these are the terms of the conversion deal we’re offering to the industry, we’re going to help you. We think this is so great, and you think it’s so great that we going to give you 250 million dollars in media acquisitions, so that 40 years worth of roll out is compressed into 8 in conventional Australia. In return you’re going to give HDTV to Australians and you have to give it back to the channel. This is a deal. This is not… this is not in – and I don’t mean that any citizen [xxxxx].

No, no, no, I understand.

The government is in there, it provides 2 out of the 5 services. It is bank rolling the conversion of the original commercials that have subscribed and in return it’s set a quid pro quo, that’s really the kind of relationship the government has developed over many, many years for free-to-air television. And the quid pro quo doesn’t look as if it’s a particularly stiff quid pro quo either. Or at least, I’m sorry, it didn’t when I was last looking at it seriously 3 years ago. I think one of the… you know, I’d say as a policy person one of the features, because it’s a lovely policy actually. Looking at Mark Armstrong from 1982 communications full on policy book, which was such a revelation when I was just starting out as a public servant, there was a lovely chapter about symbolic regulation game until you capture the regulation to explain some of the aspects of the history book regulation I suppose of one more cynical about it, but there’s a lovely passage about quid pro quo, it explains where it came from, Professor Henry May had used the term, he said that it was a style of regulation, an idea that it restrict condition in turn for supposed public goods that are delivered, which was considered to be appropriate in many areas of the Australian economy, and I thought, oh was that how you transport right across the economy. All of that got cleaned up during the 15 years of economic reform and we’re left with the island that time forgot, the value that time forgot. Television, where the quid pro quo still reigns and was used often critically, it’s a slightly [xxxxx] term because it tends to get… I mean Armstrong noted its intellectual forecoming for some [xxxxx]and the [xxxxx] Commission honed into it passionately in his 2000 whatever it was report, you know he’s not in an appropriate place to regain. What I would say is that, what you don’t see is a costing out, what’s given and what’s got. That’s been a consistent feature of quid quo pro reasoning right from its inception and, yeah, I think that’s a legitimate point, but who knows?

The highest priority actions, you were saying earlier on and I’m not doing this to lead you into your own territory but you were saying earlier on that you thought that the ownership issue was a domino.


Which would have a massive effect in a variety of directions, does that actually make it one of the high priority actions or is it something we should, are there other things which should have greater priorities?

I think that’s a very high priority thing to do, I think so, I mean it’s a very natural thing to do in terms of letting a number of threatened industries moving into very uncertain times. Pro quo has evolved. I think that we probably in this field have been too quick to regulate so as to anticipate and head off problems, that we might be a bit better to regulate size to let markets operate but to intervene and address concerns as they arrive, it’s just the more traditional role of regulators and think quicker maybe, to use the more painful and I think honest leaders that are available in government where we have a real concern, such as paying for things, that’s the kind of… the kind that I would like to see. I would have thought that in a very highly competitive internationalised globalised broadcasting communications sector, government is not going to be trying to leverage off the monopolies into mandate quotas, it’s going to be instead saying, we’re going to put this in, you know we expect this out in return, but in an environment where there are no wicked entry barriers to mark the entry and, you know, this is all very…

Well, you’re not trying to [xxxxx]….

It’s very basic, very facile stuff, I mean I suppose one of the problems you face when you’re trying to operationalise, this is how you move in the current [xxxxx] expectations about the regulatory sector to a great new world where they discover that they can just reel off [xxxxx] the environment, I suspect things like removing those restrictions on control are one, are one way of doing it, so…

If you, if you were now the lord of all you survey…

I should say, I should say, sorry, that there is a quite respectful argument that freeing up the restrictions control without freeing up the barriers to entry, in particular the moratoria which are the feature of this deal, I think that’s quite a respectable position too, I actually don’t…

When you say…

Moratoria… I mean I am quite uncomfortable with why it is that we have to decide for all the market. Due to the [xxxxx] I don’t know why, I understand there’s a lot of chaos in the new competition and you might get people going out that are just not comfortable with it.

The standard position seems to be that diversity is important. Now, I don’t…

I’m not sure what that means in terms of…

No, I’ve never been clear to what it means in television terms, except that what it means to me was clearly that the diversity is partially personal bias and partially I hope observation, that diversity at the least means the diversity of ownerships, it doesn’t necessarily mean the [xxxxx], so that if you have an empowered public service broadcasting system, that’s an ownership. And if you are having power over the commercial ownerships, they are ownerships.

I think there’s a…

Whether they should be a separate, whether they should be separate people for separate media [xxxxx]…

When you want to come up with a set of rules for fostering competition, you can tap into the international intellectual debate, that has produced very interesting outcomes between jurisdictions and which has a lot of economic theory who are dependent about where the market is operating, when it isn’t, when you commit a merger, when you don’t, and there is a lot of commonality about what the things are that we know, and things are that we don’t know. When you come to regulate the diversity of voice, you find no such commonality, and in fact when I say regulate the diversity of voice, it’s not the [xxxxx]. We call it the control limits, and there was a lovely report done in the 80s, [xxxxx] I think in particular for the Parliament, [xxxxx] tolls, which actually looked at all of the things [xxxxx] that he was doing within past area falls, and it was a complete mish-mash. I mean in some cases Parliament said he was doing it for reasons of competition, and someone said he was doing it to preserve local, that is local geographical ownership, there was no real sort of pattern. Now I guess, what I tend to do in the shorthand, is to attribute a concern to maintain diversity of voice onto this which often actually doesn’t have that legal effect, and it does so in various ways that are probably quite constraining to the industry exporting post converging synergies. Now I think there is a debate to be had and I think the Parliament is probably going to have it with Senate, control turning possibly inside the [xxxxx] rather than outside, about what the minutes are of… whether there are limits that are separate from competition limits on diversity of voice. The problem I have there is that I don’t know that there are very many easy answers, I think what the British have done with this notion of diversity of voice where you then come up with a way of working out what the size of the voice is, taking account of the internet, magazines and all sorts of things, it’s probably got more to recommend it, in terms of intellectual honesty than our own system, but I gather it’s not… It’s got a lot of problems as a model. So I’m not sure how you would do it in a way which is not really just a smoke screen for a wish to anoint who owns what, and which media proprietor was rewarded, I mean I think if you look back over the history you have to ask the foreign investor coming in how straight this environment is, this multi environment you know, so I’m quite, I’m a… I mean I accept that there are issues about what happens to the debate in a town like Adelaide when you get one [xxxxx] and two papers, owned by Murdoch. I accept that there’s a literature on how some proprietors are more inventious than others, I accept all that goes on but, I think it’s been very difficult to have an intelligent debate about how we do regulate for the diversity of voice, and I’m not sure that the current rules have much to recommend them, I suppose. I don’t believe that those rules as much as I think most people that think about media do [xxxxx], I just see it as a monopoly, to be quite honest.

Yeah I can understand that, but if it’s really, I mean it’s the notion more than the actual rules, the rules… I mean in many regards the rules really can’t work, but it doesn’t [xxxxx] rules from responsibilities marginally one way or another.

It… I suppose that’s the point, there always seems to me to be a bit of disenchantment between the notion and the actual product, but you wouldn’t say they’re cross… I mean the cross media did have a rationale, they are quire attractive to politicians, probably not so much in their terms, but certainly politicians and journalists in particularly small regional markets. I spent 30 years in Australia when government actually intervened to build up synergies between newspaper, radio and TV ownership and then in the 80s they changed their minds and decide that was scary and, you know you didn’t read about the riot in the local pub if the pub was owned by the TV owner and so on and so forth. So I can understand why those rules are made, the rationale was pretty clear, but the manner of its application, the manner in which those changes occurred, I think was to some extent, tainted by the perception that certain politicians were picking winners and losers, and funnily enough that particular network didn’t do so well and a particular proprietor did and so on and so forth. I don’t have a problem with developing options for regulating diversity of voice, but let’s have that debate, I think the rules that are currently being removed, it can be very interesting to se what comes out of it, I’m not sure in the end how Penn and Fairfax owning one another may not make good business sense, but I’m not really sure that it’s such a catastrophe in terms of the operation of Australian democracy.


I think, you know it’s a debate that always gets personalised and it only ever takes off when its personalised, and it used to be, it was Packer, Packer and Fairfax.


Now Mr. Packer is so old that he’s begun to lose some of his bogeyman properties I think, he’s often perceived more as a seller than a buyer too.

And there’s a larger bogeyman [xxxxx].

I mean I would have thought that the real bogey in the process is the prospect of a Telstra with gigantic market power, 50% of the Pay TV operator, acquire television and newspaper assets, which it’s already able to do, it doesn’t need any cross media changes except to own both TV and the newspaper, but that’s a competition, it’s more than a diversity of voice concern. It’s hard to really fear Telstra because it’s not a body that you think of as we think of Mr Packer or Mr Murdoch, we think of those two, we fear them as individuals with a clear agenda, we’re very scared of them and we feel powerless and we get irate and flustered about the idea that they can set the debate, but we don’t feel that way about Telstra, but that’s the sort of juggernaut you can see.

It’s interesting isn’t it, because when the Telstra option – Telstra and Channel Seven issue was around in glass slippers, it was… the row about it was actually not… it wasn’t a public row, I don’t think that the average drawsheet or even any Telegraph reader was really getting worried over the news media.

No, I don’t think so, and I don’t think you can sneer either at the idea that it is fundamentally easier to form yourself from independent sources now than it was by the 1990’s, because it is, it just seems to me that you only have to go back to the 60s and people forget that you’ve really couldn’t read anything.

That’s right!

You couldn’t import paintings into the country if they had pubic hair showing you know. Now, who can stop you?


It’s… and these mass media that we’re concerned are losing their share, they are pushing along the bench, confronted by real issues about, you know, media which actually promote global communities which allow me to decide I have more in common with a bunch of pop up music [xxxxx] in Seattle and Vancouver or wherever, than with my fellow Australians, you know. A new set of challenges, I think it’s easy to get fixated on, on the old ones and maddening though it is when you feel that your favourite media organ is pushing a line with at least one more goddam commentator putting a view you don’t like. So there’s your course that they figure that that irritation is why you keep buying the paper, that’s just probably true. I try not to ready my paper [xxxxx] and why actually I’ve decided to ban the [xxxxx]. It’s a bad way to sell papers.

You now get to own the whole system, for the last question, if you get to own the whole system, within the world of things that are doable, what you’ve talked about, I mean are there things beyond that, that you would actually want to do if you could do literally at your will to do. I mean you’ve talked about the kind of economy that you want to construct… and I’m talking obviously specifically about things, you were talking about the kind… or you spoke about the kind of economy you want to construct around that or around the notions that of running [xxxxx] that, you’ve talked about the preservation of voice [xxxxx], are there other things that…

Well this is why… I suppose I come back to my basic neutrality on television, I mean TV was a unique defining institution for Australia and it’s been very successful in doing that because Australians prefer Australian stuff and that’s all really great, but does that make me feel that we need television in future, no it doesn’t. We did without television in 1919, and if we don’t have television in 2016, that doesn’t have to be bad news either and I don’t… I‘m an outsider here, TV is just another medium, but I suppose the way I put that, it would be disappointing if the globalised post TV future was one where there wasn’t fronted by an Australian creativity, Australian presence, Australian look and feel, which is the…

Which is [xxxxx], yeah.

Yeah, that would be an unfortunate thing. I think, I suppose it comes back to a point here, I mean in the end what does it matter if I might migrate to London myself, and follow my daughter, you know I quite like England actually but, as long as Australiais a sovereign country, for good or for ill, you don’t want your citizens to feel second rate in that country and we know what that means, because we have a very odd if not unique, then I suppose very specialised history as colony, a set of colonies that have merged and have acquired I think a measure of cultural self-confidence with the passage of time and I wouldn’t lose them, I wouldn’t want to go backwards because I think it’s unhealthy, we’re on our own, we’re a sovereign state, if we were state of the United States it wouldn’t matter, if we were 50 counties of Great Britain, it wouldn’t bother me. But as long as we are a sovereign nation, and there is big opportunities there, because I think that observation about Australia as the Puerto Rico of Asia is actually a fairly good one. I think globalisation, in so many things, ascetical of so many Australians defining themselves within international communities, it’s going to drive other Australians back to government, clambering for some sort of affirmation saying they can deliver the act, they’re big opportunities there for the ABC, and for all Australian institutions and I think television’s potential beneficiary of that, it’s a place where… which can be local, where people can go, they can turn to it for some sense of community.

I think in the voting sense, it is very much part of its medium.

Sorry, if television disappeared I would like to think there were other places people could turn for a sense of community, and specifically Australian local sense of community too, because I think that comes with the patch of being a sovereign state. If people come to despise the sovereign state they live in too large a number, well it’s a bad outcome for it you know, so it’s just getting extremely brandish rather than…

No, this is actually… I mean it’s real.

Mm, hmm.

I mean the next 10 years will plan the will of our nation.

And I should say too I don’t see television… I’ve never seen television disappearing, I think there is a place for… there’s a place for streamed audio visual entertainment and information, which is going to see off my daughter as well as me.

I know, you have said to me that [xxxxx]…

I’m certain it would be a smaller place than it is now, relatively because it faces a gorgeous, seductive and wonderful ways of wasting your time, or spending your time, which it didn’t face 30 years ago. But you know the model’s not gone because everyone likes to say, you know the media will move along the bench.

So yeah, it’s a good thought. I mean how many people have foretold the death of the model in Australia.

Yes that’s right. The model of the newspaper is to witness… but you know…

And it throws up odd ones, I do think that mobile, I looked at the mobile licence and I thought, well here comes television in another one of newspapers spaces, one of radio spaces too to some extent too, so you know sometimes the old media can be the aggressor as well as the victim it’s reformed to…

Thank you very much… Okay, well that was very interesting.

Well, it was…