One, more approving, from Ben Goldsmith in ‘Convergence Review heralds a dramatic shift in Australian media‘:
In line with the review’s consistent emphasis on “regulatory parity”, the report proposes that all “Content Service Enterprises” be required to commit a percentage of total production expenditure to specified Australian content, along the lines of that currently operating for select subscription television channels.
The category of Content Service Enterprises is a broad and as yet ill-defined class of entities providing programs and other content to Australian audiences on any delivery platform.
It appears likely to cover large and small Australian players such as the existing free to air and subscription television companies, Bigpond and FetchTV, as well as international services that supply content to Australians including, presumably, Facebook, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer.
Some commentators are already suggesting that the imposition of this requirement on international services will discourage them from operating in Australia and potentially lead some Australian services to relocate offshore. And there are many questions about how these enterprises will be identified and monitored. But in theory at least, this is a bold attempt to spread the responsibility for supporting Australian content production to all services operating here.
Martin Hirst in Media Convergence review is light on detail – and on regulation is less impressed:
I think it’s quite empty of content, to be perfectly honest. The headline in it for me is that it’s an attempt to come to terms with what I call the “techno-legal time gap” – the dissonance between what technology can do and how it is regulated….
The devil is really in the detail, and it’s difficult to tell just from this interim report where exactly the entire review will head.
One of the most crucial issues seems to be the time frame. We are now probably 18 months out from the next federal election, and it’s going to take much longer to get that sorted out. So it looks like the review has created a political football to be kicked around until the election comes.