Friday, February 26, 2010

Communications Policy

The National Broadband Network is just one facet of communications policy, but at times you'd be forgiven for thinking it is the only one.

The Australian reported last week that the NBN itself was in a mire, and that Telstra was eyeing off the prospect of again playing hard ball. That is, thinking the story is only about them deciding not to finalise negotiations to force more concessions from the Government.

In the same rag today Mark Day wonders whether our ABC needs to have its role redefined. There has been some angst both about the ABC move to a 24/7 news channel and the ABC funding of the so-called "regional hubs".

The ABC is a strange model, given that we've almost always had both whereas he US started only commercial and the UK started only public. The trick in our model is maintaining the balance. I guess the biggest shame was that the FTAs couldn't get their act in to gear on how to move the jointly owned SKY news into an FTA multi-channel.

The regional hubs are far more akin to community media that public broadcast, and are more about "digital capability building" than new "broadcast" services. It is really hard to argue against more direct community engagement, especially as almost all "local" papers are now just pat of one of three conglomerates. The hub model creates the idea that the hubs can "rip and read" ABC content but still be local.

The real question is whether anyone outside the media itself cares enough about media policy to force either party to put effort into developing one before the election?

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