Project Timeline 2005–2010

Skip to content

Proof of Concept Phase – Interview I

Categories: Interviews, Proof of Concept Interviews, Support Material
Date: 19 April 2005
Contributors:

Interviewee: [xxxxx].

Andy Lloyd James: Okay.

You need to put your marker down for the ones you don’t know. Perhaps my brief, aborted career is really a journalist.

Key issues for the future development of television?

Key issues for the future development of television? Number 1 – quality. I think that’s the biggest one because if you get the proliferation of channels and the fragmentation of consumption or, you know, there is a whole lot of content out there and a lot of it is awful. So that’s the biggest headline. Advertising models clearly in crisis. Diversity, I mean that’s the kind of interesting tension because on the one hand, the fragmentation of the media means there should be space for a lot more niche programming. And then the flip side of that is you know, the kind of international content restrictions and they’re all coming out of the big brands and the big brand owners. So it will be really interesting to see how that plays out. I think people like Discovery, and FGO done really well in those kinds of things. They’re making good, quality, extraordinary content in a focussed area, and people know what they get and where they go for it. And I think that kind of subject matter model will kind of have an increasing role to play. Part of the fragmentation thing as well is what is the role of the channel, in the kind of picture scenarios. Mark Petty, I don’t know if you’ve done his interview, but he talks a lot about net casting and the role of peer-to-peer recommendations. So in the real world I ask you what things you like, and they’re the ones I go and see. And when those scripts start to get more formalised, in online and in whatever and I can then go and seek that content for multiple sources, what’s the [xxxxx] then?

Yeah.

And then he flips over that argument that says, it’s a filter. And that kind of builds you back to where something like the [xxxxx] works, because you know that it’s bad nature or culture or but you also know that someone’s done some kind of filtration process on that, so you are not wading through a bunch of student videos that are incoherent or low quality or what have you.

(Mobile interference)

Are they involved in what’s still being called New Media, should it still be called New Media, but are they involved with making material for telephones, making materials for [xxxxx] to the web?

I can’t answer in specific reference to those channels but that is another of the really major trends, I mean one of the other things that’s here is about cross-platform commissioning; the big brand owners are getting smart about that, so Disney…

(Inaudible comment)

Disney, if it is a film, the game comes out the same time, you will have a battery of content which will become the ring-tone, the wallpaper, the CD, and then as you know the lunch box, and the rulers, and the millions of other things. There is a real opportunity for the channels to also take some of that space, they haven’t done it so much so far, there is absolutely no… but in terms of packaging up its programming, that will happen across the board.

Yes, because part… sorry, but part of… what underlies part of what you said so far actually is the question of Australian content, and now because you can grab the quality of them all over the place, this [xxxxx] here it’s got to get better.

Yeah.

And also you’re looking at the business models and the advertising models; do business models exist yet or… in a robust sort of way for making cross-platform material here?

They are in their native stages.

Are they?

Yep, there have been a number of experiments that’s kind of proven, kind of looked at what the operational implications of that are. Have you heard of something like Fat Cow?

Yes. That’s the [xxxxx]… Up in Queensland, isn’t it?

Yes. Brisbane… Hoodlum, yeah. So… and I worked on that project and that was an extraordinary kind of learning piece to be involved in, a lot of things about how not to do it, I mean it was ambitious and it was complicated and…

(Inaudible question)

Yes they had a lot of support and the real driving force behind it was Philip [xxxxx] from Austar and he was a real champion. Unfortunately as he got quite near to the end I think of production, it must have been because he was in the production, Austar was having their real financial difficulties and they couldn’t drag it over the line, so I think it was kind of… it was actually sort of finished up and then shelved for a bit. And then what happened was, and he was in real trouble…

ABC picked it up?

ABC picked it up, but unless we’ll speak exactly to the issues that we need to well explore a bit more, but ABC TV picked it up as a cheap acquisition. ABC New Media only found out about it accidentally…

Are you kidding?

…and this is a pinnacle prototype cross-platform project, and nobody in TV thought about the rights, thought about the [xxxxx] of it, or even thought to mention to the people who inherently care about interactivity. So what happened was [xxxxx] found out about it, and realised the opportunity and scrabbled around like mad to get that thing up in the timeline. And even, when was it?

About a year ago, two and a half years ago?

Yeah, I’d say it was two years. And even within that process with was extraordinarily resource intensive, because they’ve done excellent work, they’ve tried to deliver content management system because the whole website changed every week, different clues, the whole thing.

What was it?

So, you had a half your linear narrative of the show and then the show finishes a mystery, and that would drive you into the website, where on the website you can collect clues, the musical points and then you had to solve the mystery, so you kind of built up a point score over time, you have a high score tables.

[xxxxx] do to start of that?

I can’t remember, a couple to 3 months maybe. And then there was an SMS component. So originally they had intended that and we tried to do it, but as characters received text in the show, you would simultaneously get what [xxxxx] you subscribe, but we couldn’t beat their lag latency time in the system, so we had to drop those. But the conceit was that Fat Cow was just through the week, so you would continue to get intercepted messages and voice mail. So the other thing we wanted to do was have your phone beep as soon as you got voice mail, and you go and pick it up and it’s there. Now again we didn’t have the technology to do that at that stage, so instead you had to dial into 1900 number to pick them up. A little bit clumsier but still very, very effective. Additionally… there was four of us, so there were whole discussions boards and committees built up, and in fact one of the things we didn’t anticipate but we kind of subsequently used as a KPIs but I think there were 4, 5, or 6 fan sites built independently yeah. And what is particularly interesting, so there was a whole bunch of lessons in there, so even within that process – and that’s what I was saying and I forgot to finish – TV was still taking things around in a schedule and moving it around and we were like blue, trying to get this extraordinary complex project out, and they’d be like, oh we’ve brought it forward 6 weeks! And there was absolutely no sense of responsibility from them as to what the impact on our workload would be. And I just drew all that out because that’s incredibly indicative of how the current structures of TV channels do not support currently the model that we need to move to, and that that’s one of the kind of key development issues. The other thing just…

What [xxxxx]? Not so much for the television but what you were doing…

It was the most successful website we have ever had.

Is that right?

Yeah, I cant remember the figures but I think it was like half a million something like that, this is as interesting as any of the rest of the project because the TV show, was a bit the dog, reduction values were not all that, it was in the wrong slot, it was put I think in the Friday or Thursday night kind of comedy slot, it wasn’t comedy. I think in retrospect it would have worked much better in the kind of neighboursy, after schoolie, kind of kid’s daytime TV thing.

Five thirty.

Yeah, so the TV show didn’t rate terribly well. In fact at one point they were talking about pulling it and again, it was only incredible internal pressure from us that says, you’ve got to be aware of the investment we’ve made here, that got it through to run. But the website went off. I mean of the reasons the stats are so high is because you had to creep around to pick up the clues, and you would drive in repeat, but then that was its intention. So I don’t think any…

Inaudible

Yeah. The forum is extremely active, [xxxxx] 30% of their own sites, and the SMS was a – what’s the [xxxxx] number for that [xxxxx] again – was good, solid and no drop off, no [xxxxx] unsubscribe over the process, even if the TV figures were dropping but SMS remained constant, probably people couldn’t be bothered to… but for that kind of…. So it was quite interesting how the TV show was like this, the website was like this, and the SMS ran through, so if you gauged its success across platforms, you’ve got a consistent performance across the net as those delivery platforms.

Was there any other, apart from SMS, was three any other telephony that [xxxxx]?

Yeah there’s 1900 numbers, so you could call a 1900 number to listen into previous messages.

But you couldn’t get on your phone [xxxxx] minute [xxxxx]?

No the technology wasn’t really there, but we did make black & white phone logos, and I think ring-tones, so you could buy those via our shop. And like I said, that was in the old kind of black & white day.

So the model worked?

Mm, absolutely, absolutely, and a lot of what you’ll see, I mean I was talking to Nathan from Hutchinson’s yesterday late, and they’re working on a significant or I think they’ve got 3 projects in development which are extending that idea actually simplifying it, but they are… so they’re looking at, you know, it… the same mindset, it’s where the TV show is the prompt to the rest of the engagement which occurs, and so you’ll have the half hour slot and then you’ll have, again they’re just working with text communications through the rest of the week.

Yes.

To drive you back in the next time around.

So this [xxxxx] they’re doing it all.

Yep.

I should give them a ring.

Yeah, actually I’ve got his contact right here.

Only because I presume that they’d be still working through your business models [xxxxx].

Yeah, well this is as I say, they’ve kind of… they are looking… I mean he… yes and no, I mean he was phoning me to say how are things looking, have you got any advice?

Yep.

They are also quite smart because they… because it was quite over-extended last summer, there was an awful lot of things to think about. Actually keeping it within Text World is very smart way to go, I mean there is a number of other people delivering projects with short format video delivered to their handset. Now, I’ve been working across a number of those, those are great, they challenge now to construct, they will be a very important part of the way that TV shapes up and the way that we tell stories, but right now data costs are prohibitive

Yeah, sure.

So, yeah BBC is doing… ABC sorry is doing a mini series. Five short… five episodic narrative pieces for phone, can be animation, can be whatever, with one meg download on a regular handset is worth 20 bucks! So that’s a real….

What if it gives you what you [xxxxx]?

You could get a short well-compressed video, so you can get a couple of minutes of…

It actually exists.

Yeah, I mean it very much depends how you do it, I mean flat I think gives you a little bit more. If you’ve got… what’s this movement, when you get more… I mean I’m not a techy, but that’s … these are the kinds of things that make a difference with it.

Inaudible comment

I mean I was working on i-Modes and WAP sites and those pages had a 10K limit and they had a graphic header, and a bunch of text and maybe some little coloured icons next to the top for kind of things, and that would take most of your capacity.

Sure.

So that gives you a sense you’re not TV. And that’s what matters a lot.

Yeah, sorry if I decided to use that one there because I was going to do [xxxxx] business models, you were actually talking about diversity and then you went on to talk… you started to talk about the role of the channel, and that’s presumably in a world in which such things are delivered [xxxxx].

Um, yeah I mean I think a lot of the distributors were quite shy of that because do this [xxxxx]? Reminds me of [xxxxx]? This is a fact that they don’t like upsetting their apple carts, you know when you’ve spent however long building the infrastructure, they are not going to rushing down to consumer and risk ruining a retail level, but you probably will get some players who will come across that, you will get and I think where it has interesting opportunities for more niche content, more arts content, more… for the kinds of things that can’t reach the big audiences and might not get the airplay, but they can collect a whole bunch of that content together and offer it direct to consumer, be that via the net which is probably the cheapest way to do it, or to connect to niche community channels. I suspect it will be through the net, I mean are you familiar with tv.org?

Yeah.

Yeah.

It remains a [xxxxx] question when [xxxxx], which takes you back to those advertising [xxxxx] and initiatives coming up in the middle of this whole exploration which is if advertising fragments [xxxxx] from Free-to-Air as [xxxxx] into reports, we start with 55% Australian content in this country which will be under [xxxxx] legal [xxxxx] in America, but if advertising spreads out a bit and if Free-to-Airs begin to get either a plateau or a reduction in their [xxxxx], it’s going to be very hard for the ADA to maintain a level of [xxxxx] rather than [xxxxx] so if there is an issue for a lot of people wondering about whether those dollars go to the production [xxxxx] how does my dollars go into production of the [xxxxx]. It’s a real [xxxxx], along with whether the Bat Cam model will work for [xxxxx] production.

Well.

So you just have a more complex [xxxxx].

Yeah I mean there’s a couple of stimulus to that, one is that TV is still the high glamour, high value end of it. I mean there’s no point thinking that you can get the revenue from the ring-tones is going to support the TV production and that’s a long way out. If you make a full Play Station game out of a TV series, we’re not talking about [xxxxx], we’re actually talking about TV, but that’s not necessarily far, I mean Big Brother you could create a Sims style game out of that.

I’m surprised that hasn’t happened already. [xxxxx] the games [xxxxx]?

Not directly, I mean at the ABC we did lots of rubbish ones there with free, but yeah but we know that games revenue exceeds films, film and music, so those kinds of things have got potential. And the sponsorship, yeah the sponsorship, so I mean one of things that you see in commissioning now, for all platforms I think, I think it’s fair to say, is that I wasn’t too keen about [xxxxx] particularly this full commissioning and you seem to have to get a funding partner, be that a government or whatever, particularly for local content, a play out platform and another supporter, now that third man is probably likely to increasingly be in the brand, to be brands. And that I think is quite a sustainable mix, the difficulty then becomes how much control does that brand impose?

When you say brand?

Coke, Volvo, yeah!.

Yeah.

But I don’t know, yeah I guess they do mean advertising but you’d have to kind of take it in a much broader…

Inaudible.

Because something like… some people will want this story to be based around you know the search for the perfect drink or some of it might just be product placement within it and some of it might just be brand association. Now I would suggest that the brand association will be more effective because people don’t really want… people want to be able to trust the story as evolving as it should, but equally you want more finance generation, you know there’s kids that come up and some of the research that… I think it might be some of the entry research, you know.

Some of the which?

The entry research done with kids for that. And look… what I’m saying was that the kids really value the advertising, and they thought it was weird that the ABC Channels didn’t have it, because that was kind… advertising of that kind tells them what they should be wearing and thinking and thinking and…. So they saw that as a lot more integral to the way we possibly perceive it, which is as this kind of intrusive, now obviously there’s kind of low grade rah, rah, salty ads, and then there’s high gloss and people’s responses to those are very different, I think yeah.

But the idea of advertising is actually to appreciate it.

Yeah.

So that’s fabulous, it’s encouraging.

Yeah, well I’ve tried…. I can try and find out where the research was, I can’t really remember. It’s certainly one of the ABC pieces.

Yeah. So quality, advertising multi’s, diversity, when you talk about diversity, I guess there are two wings to diversity, one is diversity of content and the other is diversity of… diversity of opportunity, okay, the whole access [xxxxx] whether I mean some of what we’ve talked about here, particularly those Fat Cows, I imagine that the website of Fat Cow would be quite [xxxxx] whatever is the push suddenly, and your communications were not built [xxxxx] communication [xxxxx].

Yeah, I mean the… in the Fat Cow, there wasn’t that there was a significant amount of video on it, it was just a particular sort of content you came in [xxxxx]terectomy thing. You’re absolutely right if you were delivering separate pieces of video or whatever, regionally there are intentions of that, and the flip side of that is that’s exactly where the government is trying to get all of that infrastructure anyway, I mean they don’t really give a toss about the settings, they can look after themselves. And a lot of that focus is on the regions in providing, so…

By 2015 from what you know do you think, I mean do you think broadband will be a reality for just about everything?

Yeah. Yeah.

And affordable?

Yes, I mean we’re already seeing considerable downward pressure on it after the Telstra wholesale rates debacle. And that question would only increase in terms of price per access. And what you will see I think is, because the Telcos were then trying and claim that back elsewhere which is kind of a big problem, so you will more into the content and then those services become added value on top of that, so you will see the fusion of big… of broadband delivery and TV delivery. So as I now pay for my package on Foxtel, I will pay for my content packages over my broadband network. But the access per se can only continue like it’s… I think that Moore’s law still applies to access. I think. I mean I was talking to a guy from CISCO this morning and that is our national focus, is making sure that the networks behave and absolutely we can do the most things in the most different kinds of ways. And they know, they’re pushing it aggressively and they are not going give it up, and also I mean, I‘m probably not normal but what’s [xxxxx] these things, they’’ have to give them back.

Bloody oath!

Somebody was saying to me, oh it was in the paper I was reading yesterday. And somebody had posed the question, or it could have been some solution, if you had to give back one, your T.V. or your computer?

Oh, [xxxxx] yesterday [xxxxx].

Yeah it’s in Australia, I think.

Yeah, they would have tried [xxxxx].

And yeah, exactly because you can make your computer do all the things that TV does, so end of story, you know. We went over to our friend’s house and they don’t have Internet access, I’m outraged!

What about broadband as a production tool? Is that an issue at this stage, I know it’s an issue with future film producers, [xxxxx] might be able to shuffle rushes and rough cuts, and [xxxxx].

Yeah absolutely, that’s one of the things that CISCO guy was talking about actually is that in Adelaide they’ve got a tier one backbone that links to the States, which is specifically, you know the big fat cable that will actually go under the sea, and that is specifically so people like Southern Cross and Ambience and the big players who are out there, can all be working on the same game, film, whatever and reflect the changes back and seeing them reflected. So for someone like Cisco that is exactly where they fit in, so.

That’s only 100 [xxxxx] a week.

Well obviously everyone else has got that, but I know about Adelaide because as a State, they put a significant amount of attention onto theirs.

It’s almost like they were doing this.

Much like Singapore and a couple of the other Asian… Korea, I think it was Korea, who’ve said, we haven’t got any natural resources, our differentiator will be to go high tech and to put, you know… so Adelaide is taking a similar kind of approach and quite effectively, so they’ve got a number of quite awesome businesses here that…

When you look at the…

But in terms of production, production was still I think driven by high end camera 35mm glossy because anything you do in earlier platforms, you always need the picture perfect originals. So I don’t think you’ll see any of those productions moneys come down because I think the one thing that we are leaning is, you don’t know where it’s going to end up. But it could be on a screen that’s 200 foot long.

You said [xxxxx] there, does it compete? Or do you mean digital at the same quality as film is at dubbing.

Yeah.

It’s not actually distorted, I’m just interested because I’m still not clear whether HDTV does what 35 mm does evolve from 70mm.

Don’t really know. That’s not my area of expertise. Unfortunately for me.

Across the next 10 years, as a venture, what do you need? Do you need tools that you don’t yet handle, I’m talking broadband but are there other things that you need to be able to economically or more economically [xxxxx] that you can’t do now?

Only the streamline rights process. And that’s a big hairy, ugly thing, yeah you know, if you are trying to reuse a clip on a handset for promotional things sort of ring-tones, if you have got to pay the actors, and soundtrack and the whatever, and a lot of those actors… all those people in the [xxxxx] all want to take a piece of that ticket, and in some sense it’s rightly so, but they are vastly inflated or incorrect in relation of how much that piece of content is going to…

Inaudible.

Yeah, as everybody does.

There are two issues in the [xxxxx], I mean there’s the rights themselves and there’s the [xxxxx]. And they were doing things in micro and [xxxxx]. Micro [xxxxx]. I mean again new rules, you might actually have people who are actually working through those rights, rights processes [xxxxx] in this?

Yeah, there definitely are, there’s lots of different forums working on it. Candidly, I mean it’s an area that I find quite tedious. And I come in more from the public sector kind of artsy end, I’m kind of much more in accepting free things, but if I wasn’t earning my living from it, and I made one show and I kept finding myself, you know or bits of me digitally remastered, on the back of the seat in a taxi as I came back from the airport.

Yeah, that’s what [xxxxx] yeah.

Yeah, and I want to say about how that played out, it’s difficult with the [xxxxx].

All I wondered was whether there was essentially one big lawyer about the [xxxxx] gap. And then I think that…

Yep there’s a guy… there’s Roach Lawyers from the ABC, he is a very cool [xxxxx] creature, he’s very smart and [xxxxx]. Suzy would give you some of her time. Suzy, Z Y actually. And there’s a guy who is in our mobile industry development group in a day called Crook Park Hill, who I don’t know but seemed to be a bit of a guru with all things I.P., whether that is just for the personal sectors, I suspect it does.

Is that the thing that you did last week?

No, this was… we had another kind of meeting where all the content people get together, and he was one of the guests, that came along so I can get you his contact and a bit more about him and…

I’d just love to get my hands on something he’s actually focussed on, because it’s [xxxxx], it’s just and it would certainly like [xxxxx] what happens with [xxxxx]. So question number 2 then, as far as your [xxxxx] 10 years out, realistically what’s the best outcome for television? Whatever television is, so realistically what would you hope it would be in 10 years time?

I um… I did an event last year called Interactive TNT, which is… at which Bruce Felton spoke.

Oh that was in July / August, but yes I was looking at the papers the other day.

And my favourite thing, he went on to win the award at the annuals, my favourite thing that he said is and he is an old journo, like old school, and he said – there will come a time and it’s not far off, when the TV show, Four Corners will be a piece of teaser content to the main event. You know and that will occur, either through broadband or whatever. And that was exactly right. But, to do that and to leave the original thing as a piece of content with integrity, well then extend it out, will be the line that we take. I think.

I’m just wondering, I mean this as a private htought just for a second, I’m actually thrilled that you would say, because that was the… whatever the [xxxxx] might be, that was actually precisely when I was still here and we were precisely what we were trying to do with television and radio and all of that. Television was point A, radio was the end of point B, and online and whatever online became was actually worth a real break from public broadcasting [xxxxx].

Well it’s funny because, I mean the ABC and that sort of Disney channel as you know, and as part of that they’re launching a broadband channel. I mean the broadband concept already exists, but they’re trying to overlay with this notion of it’s Tuesday, it’s Four Corners day, or its Tuesday 6 o’clock, it’s Sports, the plan is a bit more advanced, and… what do you call it? That [xxxxx] live in all?

Yes, time, begging time…

Time, Begging Time To Live With. Now because of that, you can go in anytime you like, you don’t have to be there today. And yeah, it’s like… what do you call it? [xxxxx] and they’ve done some new testing on it, and it does sound extraordinarily confusing I mean it might get to… which is kind of an internal…

[xxxxx] batch.

Yes, it’s an internally given sort of… yeah, this is what they were saying. But AAP have just done similar, now lots of those are different, it’s a news content so kind of… it does… but so I wonder, I know two things don’t make a trend but I wonder whether people will, that brand owners will try to draw those things closer for their own convenience purposes and whether that will stick. Because the [xxxxx] first response is, what are you doing that for? But they might be trainable to…

That’s very interesting, that’s about, that’s what you need to give me a [xxxxx] when you said that’s the line for the curve, in the long run, you have got to decide whether you [xxxxx]. I must say I can see why somebody would try and approach the light like that, it seems odd but you can see in the one of the immense joys of new media is that [xxxxx].

Yeah, no, I mean my perfect world, what’s the question. What was the…

The best realistic outcome?

My perfect world is, I just want a media player, like I’ve got my music and it’s all on my computer. I want the big and CBC do this quite well with radio, [xxxxx] they probably broadband it up to the max, they’re going to talk to…

Inaudible

Yeah… [xxxxx].

One of my colleagues from UTS is going to [xxxxx]…

Well so what they do is… and this is radio not TV, but what I want is my bucket into which I set my preferences and my content falls. And it’s delivered overnight, and when I switch it on in the morning, there it is, and I play it, and I save it, or I dump it.

Does Windows music player do that?

Um, well the thing I use, I mean like a KAZZA to get in or Big pond, but then I’ve just got a bit of software that is called ‘Media Jukebox’ it’s just a [xxxxx] that enables me to sort by album or sort by whatever and set play links. Now I haven’t seen a Windows Music Media myself but I can imagine that that’s what it does. So you just stuff it all in and you just say, show me all video, or show me everything by Pink Floyd whether it’s a [xxxxx] audio, yep. And a TV, you know, and the TV kind of programs… but they’re the ones that are slower because the deliveries [xxxxx] data basically.

Yeah.

Yeah you see, right that’s probably not 15 years out, I mean that is actually now if you wanted to.

If somebody sold me, or somebody solved the data issue, either the data issue and the cost issue.

Yeah. But Telstra are very close to rolling out their digital home movie delivery. Their BETA goes up next month I think.

Is that right? And that’s actually dumping it now?

Yep.

It’s not… because as you said they could run its own production.

That’s correct. So at the moment they‘re sending an [xxxxx]. They’re going to move to a limited time, I think a thousand with their delivery.

Do you have any idea what the cost basis in terms of [xxxxx]?

No, but again I could find out.

No, don’t worry, I’d just [xxxxx].

Yeah, don’t know, I mean they’re obviously making it sustainable, because having… it feels like [xxxxx] where you get the thing and you leave it sitting around and decide for as long as you like.

Yes.

You have to be quite careful how you go back and ask, they should know more for it to be delivered and still to evaporate the next day. But one of the things…

That’s interesting. If they download it to you, it disappears?

Yeah, I mean its got Rights Management in it, so I don’t know whether you get a copy of [xxxxx]…

Whatever, whatever but you ain’t got it for life?

Yes.

That’s great.

I mean one of the things that guy was talking about, who is the GM for…

You told me [xxxxx]…

Yeah. He… he’s is a new [xxxxx]… is that and he talked about this in relation to music but I suspect it would be the same for TV content, is he expects music digital content to become more expensive than it is in the store, because it’s like going to a convenience store. Because then you could apply that same model to TV content delivery, but then the flip side of that is how much infrastructural cost savings are the TV companies going to get out of it, I mean the BBC is that peer-to-peer network stuff, genius. I don’t know where that’s got up to now; do you know where that is now?

No I don’t.

But I used to love that, I mean talk about taking a model and just f***ing it up. Great. And that’s exactly, I mean that’s the other big issue actually in terms of quality content is like where… what role public sector broadcasting, where is the independent voice going to come from? Because when you roll up all of those models and you roll up the commercial alternative, who’s just going to make good stuff when it needs making? Who’s going to challenge the paradigms?

So what does that say that [xxxxx]?

Seventeen-year-old boys probably, like you know, that’s what you are relying on, isn’t it?

But what does that say for 2015 then, because there has to be a more [xxxxx] public broadcasting.

I’d see the world without a public… without public broadcasting generally is [xxxxx] and as a real issue, I mean particularly factual about trust you know, and it… I mean that’s, and again I don’t know how much that has generated now, but you know I’ll watch Channel Seven program or I listen to music, there’s commercial radio stations, I don’t believe in any recommendations you’re making, and no one is going do [xxxxx] voice over and goes this is generally fantastic.

That…

We haven’t touched it. You know the backyards shows where you know that every single paintbrush they’ve picked up, someone has paid to put that paintbrush on the set. So it kind of comes back to this point about the kids finding it valuable, I mean maybe this issue will go away and we will just come to accept that it’s about, you know, a whole bunch of commercials messages.

Well that’s a huge question.

We’ve got an incredible acceptance now, there’s what’s that stat about the number of advertising messages in a day compared to 1960, it was something like 20 to 30 thousand.

Yes.

You know. So maybe it will just become invisible, and maybe that just is… and that [xxxxx] that far out, which is probably more likely.

That’s what I… I think that’s a real issue that that level of information becomes a [xxxxx], for the future generations [xxxxx] time when in fact there isn’t a clear decision.

Yeah.

What worries me [xxxxx] is that it’s an issue that people don‘t tend to tie together with television and radio, but as I understand it, the leadership [xxxxx]. If they don‘t take up [xxxxx], which does give you a bit more grunt [xxxxx], which may give you more grunt [xxxxx], if there were something wrong. It will maybe, and actually I think future generations, right or wrong, [xxxxx] for Free-to-Air commercial television information is enough.

Now, have you seen out Fox?

Yeah.

Not exactly the model we’re talking about, you know. Not only is it horrendously twisted. But it flows into the monitor of sound and balance. And their responsibility is well, you know you should know that this is a discrepancy or something, you’re not saying this for perspective, you’re saying this is fact, and so where does that critical enquiry come from, when every single one of those stations, and every single one of those programs is all pushing it back.

And yet the difficulty is, when we go back to where we were 10 minutes ago… leave aside the Public Broadcasting for 2 seconds, it’s actually talking about the funding model to evolve in advertising, one way or another, in fact [xxxxx] expressed that in fact brands marketing [xxxxx]…?

I mean I think it has been done with integrity and I don’t remember who this was, but you might know even… somebody made an episode of Seinfeld for the web and it was sponsored, entirely sponsored and I think it was a car company, and just a little mini episode, completely scripted by the right… or the same editors and that, and then there was just some reference made in the closing sentence for the car, or whatever that was, but it wasn’t “You must to and buy…” it was just a reference and then a throw to the side. I just thought that was an extraordinarily good example where, and it’s absolutely as sponsorship should work anyway, where it says, we’re coming to you because you’ve got a product which we want to be associated with, but we stop here, we’re not trying to influence what you do because that actually changes why we want to be your partner.

That’s interesting!

But I don’t… and so that’s the perfect world. But you can put your [xxxxx] which is not, if that company is not the high-end car but it’s the double grading salesman, or Bunning’s Warehouse, you know they are not going to sit back on the [xxxxx] and wait for the flow to the website.

No, and I mean isn’t that a fascinating question, I don‘t…. I came across this 11 months ago that, the majority of advertising agencies in the western world are owned by one or two international corporate advertisers. So all the issues that we’re talking about in the way of general content are actually issues that people are starting to basically focus on in terms of advertising, how the Bob Jane T-Marts and the Road Review actually get in [xxxxx] in what format is it?

It’s funny because it actually puts the advertising agencies, who have been seriously at risk, back in centre stage. I was talking to a friend of mine who runs MindShare, the Interactive Division in Australia, which is a JV with Ogilvy and all these other people who I can’t be bothered to remember the names of because in advertising you don’t care. But see what I’m saying, that I think in their Hong Kong, because they’re global, in Hong Kong they’re actually developing their own production facilities. The ad agencies are becoming commissioners and creators of content, that’s interesting!

In the [xxxxx] of programming, I mean you can see that that might be where they’d go, this was only their model or this was [xxxxx] because it’s probably out of MindShare?

Coming out of MindShare, tell me the name of it again and I can get it for you.

Obviously they [xxxxx].

MindShare Ogilvy. Yeah, so… and you see the same thing with the ABC. ABC TV, dinosaurs, they just don‘t get it, now forgive me if you have got good mates in there or Sandra [xxxxx] is your best mate, but I think the woman is diabolical.

So do I!

And I…

In terms of the forward looking, it doesn’t exist.

She had a top box in her office, when she was running Kids and Slides, she had it removed because it looked a bit scruffy, and so she had two terminals under her control which she never watched. I mean that has to be a sacred offence isn‘t it? I mean I just thought… anyway.

But she’s not running the channel, she’s just running the [xxxxx] commercial but I’m told that [xxxxx].

Yeah, well I used to work for her.

Now all of this is in here, in [xxxxx]

They made me say that, he’s twisting my arm… (pretending to scream)

Is it still working all right, the battery and everything like that?

Yeah. Kicking along. And my evil twin has left now.

That’s a massive, it’s a massive issue I’m talking about…

Yeah so what is, diffuse it by saying is it so because you can’t get the joy out of TV to do any of the interesting, easy stuff, enterprises are now commissioning programming and selling it back, so they have commissioned… The Wiggles are theirs, they made them. They made them because they could make the lunchbox and make the concert tour, and sell the dungarees, and they sell the program back to TV and that becomes the prop for all those other… which is exactly in contravention…

Inaudible.

No but it’s exactly the opposite of what the charter actually allows it to do, because I think it’s in the charter. So all of that kind of exploitation of brands whatever needs to be down streamed and core output. But in the current governmental climate, and given this horrible structural dysfunctionality, it is the only sensible approach. And to be fair to enterprises, they have tried to work within the system for some years and just been thwarted, so they’re like, f**k it, we’ll go and make this stuff, we actually have an eye to the market when you don’t, you know you’re just waiting for the dead old people slot, you know, so they were doing these girl four scenes, they’re doing these kind of 14 year old you know, you’re a blossoming woman and I… well it’s all about whatever it is.

That’s a [xxxxx] easier if you I mean if you happen to be [xxxxx] above it [xxxxx] when you see them, but television broadcasters are actually not used to having a relationship with their viewers, they’re used to having a relationship with a very large slab of demographics.

I know, and I was amazed when I found out that whole kind of… all of the ratings are based on like a small panel of like 30 people, from what they…

Well that’s [xxxxx].

I know, it’s being [xxxxx] but yeah…

But it seems to me that the whole, that the key to new media, or so the important [xxxxx] be out there.

No I agree.

But the key to the new media is actually knowing your audience and depending [xxxxx], even the individual of having that one on one relationship and that’s just for the Free to Airs. It shouldn’t be, I’m sorry to say that but it shouldn’t be, of all of them it shouldn’t be a [xxxxx] deposit [xxxxx] because they shouldn’t be teaching those [xxxxx] (too feint to hear properly) precisely the [xxxxx] in the interest of the [xxxxx]. Something [xxxxx] I think [xxxxx]. What’s the worst [xxxxx], The worse that we’ll go through?

I mean… my own personal value system is the one that I described before where everything sort of [xxxxx] smiles and Minority Report style, I also…

Is that a realistic outcome, I’m asking you [xxxxx]?

No, I think so. I think so because you’ve got a shit load or people who are coming up to the craft, who will do anything to get a distribution. Because a brand name is important at the beginning and you have a lot more power than the creators, I mean if you’re a big well-established artist whose much sought after, yeah but if you are anywhere in that low to mid range, you have to drop your pants to do what you want, and everybody… lots of people want to get into film, you know everybody thinks they‘re a filmmaker nowadays. So if you won, you know for Harry Potter, they got to the final, they cast 3 and then they go into contract negotiations and if you don’t give up of your ancillary rights, I will script the other one. And that’s how it works you know, and that would be exactly the same thing for producers, you know if you don’t dress in yellow and you know say have a nice day, then we’ll get him to make it.

That’s another, it is interesting is that again I mean this sense of relationship that exists before you have got to [xxxxx] it goes back to your question about what actually the role is of the Channel whose, as a producer, what is your relationship becoming between [xxxxx] it the Channel, [xxxxx] come from the top.

Mm, yep absolutely. And that also, I mean this… and the other kind of worst thing is that this whole homogeneity, I mean if you look at a number of the Foxtel’s, I think it’s Fox 8, may be not but a couple of those others ones, they’ve got one program on them, like you can watch Friends practically 24 hours a day, and you can watch the Simpsons practically 24 hours a day, so that’s another thing that you might see is that pock diversity, or I mean a program where you said it goes up to the after dinner slot and down for the movie, you get a successful formula, you get Tom or you get Xena Princess Warrior, we’ve got them all back to back and people sit through three of them, that’s a feature length movie.

[xxxxx] passing out.

Yeah I mean I did it myself, against all… you know, if you come in and you bring dad and you whack it on and you asking [xxxxx] and just keep an eye on it, and then that whole kind of distracted thing, that most people now are doing three things while they’re watching telly rather than one, that kind of consumption fits perfectly.

So what looks like diversity, turns out not to be?

Yeah, absolutely and turns into this kind of high input model so you’ve got a [xxxxx] of work and money and upfront to get in this formula right, and then you just pump it out. CSI, Law & Order you know the one… and they do incredibly good ratings and you get incredibly good ancillaries, and you just work the vehicle and you milk it and milk it and milk it until it dies and then hopefully you’ve got another one.

Now what you’re really saying is that the worst world is one in which [xxxxx] all of the residual activity, and that might actually become [xxxxx] reactive against [xxxxx], starts to overwhelm original content.

Yeah, that’s basically the tail will wag the dog. And I don’t quite know where that leaves the funding bodies, I mean one of the things that the AFC was worrying about last year wasn’t it, it was about stuff starting to only support projects which also had some kind of commercial interest. I understand exactly why they’re doing it, but aren’t they listening to the same, I mean there’s a counter [xxxxx] in my maintenance days, it’s about time Australians stopped making whanky Australian content, and start making stuff that was appropriate to a global audience, you know, stop pussy footing about and step up to the plate. There was merit in that. But also if you… there’s a converse, which is if even the funding bodies are saying, we’re only going to put money into what the corporates or the lowest common denominator audience is interested in, then you’ve got nothing.

I think it’s interesting but it seems to me that people like whether or not that’s the case in 10 years time, it’s certainly a [xxxxx].

Yep.

[xxxxx] rock the barge. It’s certainly appears that there is [xxxxx] I mean it’s to do with Federal government, possibly State government [xxxxx] increasingly cultural organisations are being [xxxxx] into looking at promotion into [xxxxx], and this new restructure of the Australian Council which [xxxxx] because a lot of people get [xxxxx] into fund [xxxxx] and they knew what’s [xxxxx] they’re music, they’re [xxxxx], whatever, we could [xxxxx] act, see where they’re actually tiered to be doing, to try and [xxxxx]. So when you say that about [xxxxx] others saying about [xxxxx] it really is a [xxxxx] it must be interesting, you start to… it’s an irony too, because at one end as you say, everybody else is just doing what everybody can (Inaudible). Increasingly everybody wants to do that [xxxxx] for. Because what everybody is going to want is Blockbusters. So in a sense, whether it’s Blockbusters or [xxxxx]…

Yes, absolutely but I mean just by way where it’s going to kick through [xxxxx], I mean maybe let’s just explore that opposite possibility as well because there is also an argument which I quite like which is, that says if everyone thinks they’re a film-maker and of course the technology keeps coming down, maybe you can serve that way to counteract, I mean lighten that with [xxxxx] you can start [xxxxx], I mean you look at the top first.

Yes.

And you might say that you can just keep on… and reality TV shows and you know Funniest Home Videos and what have you, and actually as we… as a civilisation, get more and more media and tech savvy, maybe the concept that we turn out will bring that diversity, maybe that’s [xxxxx] that as a video nation now, will become mini… yeah it will probably [xxxxx] documentary next time and that becomes… gives a whole new re-anything to communities, school class and things with TV’s, or websites that enable you to get to know your world. So that’s another kind of perfect view, if there is a real democratisation of that.

That’s exactly where we [xxxxx] overseas. My… you know Colin Griffith, don‘t you?

Yes, know him well.

Surely Colin [xxxxx], unmistakable what I was… my long term ambition [xxxxx] is to take production, sending pieces of productions instead of these out to deliver [xxxxx] things out of revenue [xxxxx] you can [xxxxx] settle [xxxxx] a form of public service guidelines [xxxxx] for what they’ve had to achieve [xxxxx]. And they’re encouraged to [xxxxx] start thinking in terms of [xxxxx].

Mm, hmm.

And you could then give back a whole new way of thinking.

Those ideas are still keep coming out, I mean…

There has to be a [xxxxx].

Yes. And there is several yeah, and you also need to go across other divisions as well, because really they’ve got that reach because it’s kind of a TV product and it’s also new media, so.

You’d have to, and at least at that stage where you put it on TV. Television didn’t really understand [xxxxx] and it’s kind of [xxxxx] and available at all [xxxxx]. So keeping on where we are now, given what you want to do in three years time is there anything, and I remember [xxxxx] actually needs structuring in terms of [xxxxx] talked about [xxxxx] fascinating streamlined [xxxxx] process.

Yeah, commissioning [xxxxx], I think.

When you say that, let’s go back to the…

I means… Well like I said before with Fat Cow, is that TV will pick up the rights so they don’t give a toss about that so, then enterprises will work around them to do that, what you need…

A cross platform?

Yeah. Yeah but it doesn’t have to be complicated, like at the moment everyone thinks we can’t do that and it’s too hectic and you need a [xxxxx], no you don’t. Good idea, this, it’s still a good idea, you just ask a few questions early on in the piece, you know, and you need some budgeting, just to go back to the ABC even though it’s not all about that, but something like getting rid of the development division, it was the most singular, most retrograde step that Balding could have made and I was just again stunned by the stupidity of that, because that was the only conduit through which interesting, cross-platform projects could come up. They’ve got a couple of working groups where the [xxxxx] keep together, but you know… so anyway.

No, I know they want [xxxxx] taking [xxxxx]. Is anybody outside the public broadcasting [xxxxx] structure commissioning in silos out there? You’ve got a [xxxxx]?

Yeah, I mean… I tell you what, a lot of it is coming out of the production houses.

It is?

Yeah. So it’s something like… [xxxxx] I mean they’re the smarties. So when they’re thinking TV, they’re not thinking TV sets, they’re thinking franchiseable concept. And then it is up to the TV network, how much or little of that he wants to pick up, how much he wants to run in-house, how much he wants to get agencies to pick up those components.

Inaudible.

Mm, want to see if [xxxxx]… also best and worst scenarios. I thought I might catch you with your guard down!

I’m too young to ask the right questions. But how… what needs doing right now, for those type of issues can keep coming right now. The silos can give you the capacity; sorry silos give you the means to do it. Broadband gives you the technical capacity to do it, but rights, particularly rights management or general rights management which [xxxxx] at least [xxxxx] will get organised [xxxxx] (inaudible).

Yeah I’m thinking something about talent, I’m thinking something about protecting our local industry.

I don’t think [xxxxx]…

Yeah, I don’t know how you do that either in the world that we’ve created.

Do you go through a lot of… well, you don’t, but I had the impression that you go through a [xxxxx] conference. Do you have the impression that those conferences are slowly across a broader [xxxxx] and kind of full on debate at some stage [xxxxx], an incumbent debate about what the [xxxxx] is about.

No, a project like this does a lot better than that… no, not really, people grapple with this year’s and then move on and they just stick between their own needs and the needs of, you know, the whole. There are I mean many any of the areas forming bodies, and there are a number of [xxxxx] bodies and some kind of wealth forum, for which are more like, not conferences but like ongoing discussion panels, and I think they do some really excellent work. A lot of time they’re doing the really boring stuff, in making sure that network pricing A cancels in network pricing B and that, you know these are source communities and without them the whole thing would grind into a halt. And they’re basically unsung heroes and maintaining that ethos of commitment to clarity is very important, but I can’t see this kind of a human driver, I mean where I do all my alien stuff.

Yeah, is the digitals… have government back digitals roughly, and I can’t say what his proper name is, did you ever [xxxxx] who it is?

Tom Kennedy wasn’t it?

Yes.

No.

I think Tom does [xxxxx].

No, there’s

I thought…

Richard Dickson’s on it, I think. There is a whole number of them, there’s um, [xxxxx] has its agenda which is the government’s action plan. Yeah and then they’ve got a body that they set out which has got Tom Kennedy on it, and a bunch of other people and that was all a bit political and factional and I hear on the grapevine – and I don’t know very much about how it’s happened but, that’s all ground to a bit of a halt.

Have they?

Really, and then there are industry bodies which AMIO, you know because AMIO is one and Particles is within those, and actually AMIO is positioning itself quite well at the moment to step up to that. We’ve always seen ourselves as a peak body and in fact putting this body in above was a bit really quite annoyed about.

Inaudible.

Yeah, yeah, it was all sort of a bit funny.

Was that, it looked as if that was being done as a response to the whole Seven government’s papers, it looked one of those classic things that’s not [xxxxx], the most classic things where the government gets a whole lot of papers together [xxxxx] (Inaudible) intention of it being in the world of reality and the world of [xxxxx].

Yep, and that’s about it.

Inaudible

Yep, and I think that’s pretty much where they’ve got to.

If you ruled the world, this is the last question, if you ruled the world is there something that you would do… don’t be realistic about it, if you settled [xxxxx] more might [xxxxx] to carve your way through the [xxxxx]. The things you’ve talked about are pragmatic, practical.

In 2015, how old am I? Okay, so what do I want, what do I want the TV world to look like or do I want…

[xxxxx] is there something that you’d actually… is there something when you look at the structures that’s surrounding it, that surround us all… a couple of things, Australian television is really pretty slow with [xxxxx], digital [xxxxx] pretty slowly, it’s been running [xxxxx] back in a lot of ways by experience [xxxxx] data casting, television is moving very slowly and very conservatively in terms of adding large parts [xxxxx] that’s on that [xxxxx]. Some people see that as a stumbling block, if you might say, don’t think we did it in terms of what [xxxxx] are there things which would be either a magic pathway or a magic block breaker.

I don’t know if this is, I’m not sure what you’re asking me but, if I can do anything in terms of content, I would like television to go back to being a social function, I would like it to bring people together, I would like it to inform, I would like… I thought what was really interesting and a lot of people don’t like it at all but you remember that… the BBC did ‘What the World Thinks of America,’ I thought that was fantastic, if we pull… pal together on loads of different countries and did a comparative study about how people were responding to things and what their lives were like and gave real insight into, you know, a lot of it you know, even though there is [xxxxx], but that is new ways for us to inter-relate. At this point we’ll give you a [xxxxx] which is [xxxxx], new ways to inter-relate, new ways to respond and form communities, and to you know stop being that kind of… The thing that sucks you in, you know, the thing that sucks your personality out. You come home and it’s, I guess it’s kind of passive to active in some ways, which is the TV, the computer game. You’d sit there and you’d sit there in your insular family unit and that one-way communication comes at you. And I guess that’s, you know, I guess that’s the big thing that the industry that I work in and just [xxxxx] and I’d like to see TV working for good rather than just work as an advertiser or working for… and if it fosters new community relationships and some kind of, you know, you can tie it up in some kind of social responsibility or social engagement, that would be amazing actually.

Right, that’s great.

END TRANSCRIPTION