Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Social Innovation, User-Created Content and the Future of Public Service Media: Submission to the ABC and SBS Review

Perhaps fittingly, my last required task of 2008 was for the Rudd Government. More precisely, it was preparing a submission for the Review of National Broadcasting being undertaken by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The submission was co-authored by my colleagues Stuart Cunningham and Axel Bruns from QUT, and Jason Wilson, to commence at the University of Wollongong in 2009. It will appear on the DBCDE web site shortly, but it can be accessed here for those interested.

Key points of the submission were:

1. The question of how national public broadcasters respond to changes in the media environment arising from digitisation, convergence and changing societal needs and expectations can be best understood as a question of social innovation;

2. In the 21st century digital media environment, where all media outlets are multi-platform and digitised in their modes of content production and delivery, it is better to understand the ABC and SBS as public service media organizations, rather than public service broadcasters. This emphasises how it is the services provided, rather than the delivery platforms, that are at the core of rationales for public support of the ABC and SBS;

3. There is considerable scope for both ABC and SBS to enhance and renew their Charter obligation as and social innovation remit through public service media through user-created content strategies, particularly in their provision of online services;

4. For the ABC, UCC strategies can make a considerable contribution to its provision of Australian content in news and current affairs, localism and diversity of news and information, particularly through the development of hyper-local content that exploits its network of broadcast media outlets throughout Australia and its unique presence in non-metropolitan Australia;

5. For the SBS, UCC presents new opportunities to harness its unique relationship to Australia’s diverse ethnic, language and cultural communities and its central role in the provision of international news and information, by enabling it to diversify its sources of news and other informational content material by reaching beyond the international news agencies to draw upon material sourced from ‘pro-am’ contributors around the world, and accessed locally through the Internet;

6. The ABC and SBS have the potential to be content innovators in the provision of news and information in ways that utilise UCC strategies, and to play a key role in growing international debates about the future of journalism and news media in an environment where media consumers are participants and content co-creators and not simply passive recipients of news and information. As public service media organizations, they are uniquely placed to enable new UCC opportunities in the online media space while also managing such content sourcing strategies with their policy, legal and Charter obligations, as well as questions of the accuracy and relevance of information, quality and credibility of news content and sources, and identity as highly respected news brands.


Kauders said...

This seems to me mainly mistaken. Broadcasting media like radio and tv alongside print media are part of quite a large proportion of the population's everyday life, and the specificity of where and how each media is read or listened to and/or watched is absolutely crucial to them. You cant download information driving a car for instance: the relationship between driving and listening to the radio is in part determinative of radio's use and value. So the basic premise of this submission, namely that public broadcaster be rethought as "public service media organizations" (for godsake) sucks. Broadcasting matters as such.

Terry Flew said...

I agree that radio and TV are more widely used than the Internet for news and entertainment at present, but the share of Internet in discretionary time is growing rapidly, particularly among younger media users. There is also a rapidly groing amount of TV being accessed across the Internet, despite Australia's slow broadband rates (Figures on both can be provided on request).

I would not be sure that you won't be accessing the Internet from a car over the next few years. It is a logical next step from the sorts of technologies that deliver satellite navigation systems to our car at present. Granted that it is hard to use the Internet while driving, but that is not an insoluble problem e.g. have set buttons rather than http:// addresses.