Project Timeline 2005–2010

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Quadrant 1 (Closed/Controlled)

This quadrant is dominated by external influences and marked by stringent control in almost every aspect. The economic downturn starting in 2008 lasted for some years leaving a very changed world.

US efforts to forestall greater economic crises left it massively reduced in its financial (and to some extent moral) capacity to act as the world policeman, leading to security problems around the globe. The dark side of the Internet grew as a powerful weapon for cyber terrorism and cyber crime.

Environmental issues centred on water and oil caused new political, economic and security concerns in hotspots around the world.

Protection of national industries reappeared as a major influence on global trade.

All media suffer the impact of slow economic re-growth on advertising.

All of these lead to a greater conservatism in Australian business and political life. Australia maintains its traditional Television structures (though ownerships have changed) as part of its drive to maintain national stability. The much-delayed switching from analog to digital TV transmission caused problems enough! Government boosts the funding for National Broadcasting at the cost of placing some content stipulations on the broadcasters. This is enabled through a review of Public Broadcasting and a reshaping of the ABC and SBS, guaranteeing a continuation of “independent journalism” but with a potential edge of propaganda. Investment in state of the art digital infrastructure has palled. Censorship of “sensitive” information is common.

Australian Film and TV were in this quadrant in 2008 but looking to make advances into a more creative world but this has been halted by the perfect storm of economy, security and environment.

Quadrant 2 (Closed/Uncontrolled)

What is happening is that the Traditional Owners (the networks and STV) are tightly maintaining their main free-to-air positions even though the revenues are dropping and their new media plans still underachieving. Government is not keen to completely disrupt this because it fears that a significant change to the free-to-air structure will come at an even greater electoral cost than the change to digital. But many in Government and the Media are also highly conscious of the need to exploit the full potential of digital technology.

To assist the FTAs and to encourage new markets to open, Government removes the Australian content regulations from the FTAs. Government has come to realise that Australian content can be delivered on far more platforms and in many more genres if the qualifying rules for Australian content are opened right out and all available Federal and State funds turned into incentives. (This recognises the reality that the public service purpose of Australian Content regulations solely on FTA TV is no longer effective national policy)

Public Broadcasting, after a major overhaul of ABC and ABS, greatly increases its Australian content (via increased funding) but loses some of its editorial powers: part of its transmission capacity becomes mandated open space for trialling new forms of content.

All the funds available to Television and Film production are now open to a far greater suite of genres as incentives and are not open to any network access (including Public Broadcasting) which seeks to control editorially or by distribution the nature of the content.

Quadrant 3 (Open/Controlled)

This quadrant is characterised by a complete change to the traditional structure of Film and Television in Australia. The logic of economics (industry economics, national productivity and the national economy) and the reality of technological opportunity have made it clear to Government and Industry that the spectrum currently locked up for multichannel audio-visual digital communications can be more effectively used: it is the most valuable virtual real estate in the world and is currently being controlled by 3 underachieving Companies and subscription system with conflicting ownership issues. Content and carriage are to be split to enable spectrum to be competitively marketed for long or short periods. As well as increasing the revenue return for national spectrum, this move offers a much enhanced advertising environment (including the potential for advertisers effectively to buy slabs of “air-time” which they can then program from independent offerings…as in the old Radio days) and the opportunity for many more robust content-producers to start up. Not all available spectrum will be made available for public entertainment/information: corporate Australia will also have access for business purposes. The move drives the Telcos and ISPs to open access to their spectrum as well with a consequent boost to Australian creatives.

So the FTA network structure is dismantled and a new independent spectrum-carriage organisation put in place (an organisation of keen interest to both Telcos and ISPs). It has “must-carry” Australian content provisions mandated to it, potentially including the establishment of an ITN-type service. Specific-purpose channels are also mandated (parliamentary/regional/rural etc) The definition of Australian content is opened right out, quite specifically to encourage international partnerships and a quantum increase in audio-visual workload for Australian creatives.

Public Broadcasting remains, to ensure that there is a national meeting-place but its role is clarified as non-competitive, delivering complementary (not comprehensive) programming. There are significant ramifications in this both for the business plans of subscription television and for its owners.

This is an exciting world where real innovation can take place but at the same time it is clear that the system (or the Government) is not there to drip-feed failure.

Quadrant 4 (Open/Uncontrolled)

RG “Notes-to-self” in orange – preparatory to writing a one-page story. Quotes from day-in-the-life in red.

Recent events have confirmed that human beings do not necessarily function perfectly when a certain haughty caste of people are left entirely to their own devices! But that is what this quadrant represents. Not necessarily so – there will be powerful ‘slash-dot’-style moderations in place to formulate and guide communities that gather around content and events (and content as an ever-evolving event)

This world comes as a result of a real drive to maximise the benefits and basic affordances (file-sharing and re-mixing are what digital files are designed to encourage) of digital communications across the whole national economy and deep into the global economy working closely with India and China as well as the smaller Pacific nations.. Governments and Industry have seen it as a way of providing a sustainable step-up for the economy as a buffer against the financial impact of future Resources shocks. HOW?? Include a scenario where this is the case. Ie attend to what big money and government will do to make this system work for their benefit. [RG presumes that the establishment of communities of interest and affiliation in the Asia-Pacific region will be financially and socially beneficial.] How will national identity fare in this system. Local pride will make for strong nodes. To the extent that nationalism can portray itself as a node, then nationalism will survive and perhaps even flourish, but in a low-budget contenxt compared to a global culture market.

For a long time this will be frontier territory with much to be won and lost (actively encouraging start-ups and entrepreneurs to seize opportunities) but, unlike the other quadrants, this one offers little in the way of external lifeboats. It’s for that reason that the key principles underpinning activity have to be protocol-based: there is only the lightest regulatory brush applied by the independent National Media Authority. i.e. there will be certain vilification and child-protections values enforced, but apart from that, the communities will be expected to moderate themselves. (There will be a strong anti-terrorist surveillance going on covertly.

The heart of this world lies in the extent to which the concept of social media has been extended to almost every phase of life with the business world finding considerable productivity and innovation gains from sharing and exploiting (in the best sense) the full knowledge and potential of the workforce. This is shared empowerment in action. Call & response cultures – from contemporary African-based and indigenous-based cultures, through to revival of classical European, Homeric cultures. Also hiphop and remix cultures will flourish … cf Jamaica. – the hothouses of new genres, new sounds, new styles.

Open architecture and open services offer virtually seamless communication between hardware and between people. One’s identity is partly a series of persona’s in various immediately-accessible communities and partly a virtual identity configured as a web-crawling ‘personal-options-broker’ (POB) exploring the world on one’s behalf. Advertising has little need now of consistent mass audiences. Rather, advertising is a set of subscription deals constantly under negiotiation with the system of the POBs and the caches of media and experiences that the POBs fossick out. Payment can be in money or services ‘volunteered’ or in media created for the caches. Universal cross-platform aggregation of content, audience and exhibition opportunity is the name of the game.

But this liberation has potential costs built in: there is no longer free provision of Public Service Broadcasting and no longer a single national electronic forum (in the sense that analog FTA television was a single national forum). There are, however, enormous databases of material available for re-mediation.

Independent journalism has to find business plans that work, as do all forms of content. Triangulation of propositions rather than trusted single authority is the defining characteristic of journalism, Every citizen’s POB is constantly searching for the information that is most suited to its citizen.

The Digital Divide may become a chasm and both piracy and illegal activities flourish. There will be a large contigent of society which lives with minimal connecton to the networks of information. This will be a back-to-nature, back-to-physical-fitness movement with real numbers sand real influence.

The lack of controls also opens digital communications to real and personal susceptibilities to cyber attack in the form of criminal or terrorist activity. POBs are in constant danger of being vampired or zombied so that they lead the citizen toward false idols. Trust and bona-fides are a major issue, therefore.

The bottom line for this Quadrant is that, to be successful, it necessitates the social construction of a new moral code namely, LOYALTY+TRUST between ‘catalyst-producers and reactant-consumer-communities as they all transact partly through POBs and partly through direct communication, citizen to citizen. Two types of engagement with information and audio-visual material: mediated and immediate negotiations. c.f. the independent online music culture . c.f. Strange Days, but less dystopian. cf the resurgence in value of the live, improvised performance – the elite experience that citizens will pay for. AUSTRALIANS still looking for reasons to go out – beach, sports, music, audio-visual spectacles.

The one place the ABC did brilliantly was in Education.

The truth for all of them was that scheduled television now represented only about 25% of the revenue stream for a/v content. Free TV was front of house but not the driver.

Forensic, behind-the-scenes views and alternate views, viewers as directors cutting together their own scene as it gets played out by the performers … cf Madison Square Garden multicam views. Remix and mashup culture – Jamaica etc. Where will the great imaginative breakthroughs come from? Not the middle class.

swarm and gneder values – inclusiveness (feminine principle) vs reclusiveness (maculine-recessive principle) … communication vs disengagement.

Present array of content will still be available, (linear, lean-back), just in smaller proportion and in addition to the new array of content and activities.

ABC = a valuable brand in ASIA. Cf the esteem of BBC worldwide.

The Telco’s didn’t know how to fill the news and entertainment pipes so they’ve negotiated exclusive pipe fillers for prime material from the content suppliers of a past era- the television networks, newspapers and radio. The networks broadcast and hold some big events back to keep them special but for what I want I don’t really need to view them direct.

My young son and daughter want to do the same but with the dedicated children’s service. We pay a premium for this so there are no advertisements; the shows are rated and classified according to ‘p’, ‘c’ and ‘g’ and are accessed through an online portal. The service we have nominated included classification of their websites- any web without ACMA approved classification can’t be accessed without our adult pin.