Category Archives: news

Awaiting Judgement on Platform-Shifting

Lucy Battersby, writing for the Age, continues her coverage of the most important TV news story of the moment.

If you’ll remember back to last year, Optus’s TV Now product reopened the whole time-shifting/personal recording debate with the notion of “platform/location-shifting”.

Justice Rares of the Federal Court understands the implications for future commercial and technological advances and is taking a number of days to put them on the scales:

“All of this [technology], nobody really contemplated it, but the idea is to ensure that there is the balance made between the act and the reality of what people do [in their lives].”

We wait for his judgement and the inevitable High Court appeal.

Read more in the Age.

Lucy Battersby discussed the most recent AFL TV rights agreement on episode 264.

Outland Wins Award

Congratulations to John Richards and Adam Richard. Their TV series, Outland, which is still waiting to air in Australia, just won an award at the 16th Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, where it had its international premier.

According to BellevueBusinessJournal.com:

Audience Award — Special Recognition: OUTLAND

In addition to rave reviews from audiences, the two-night run of the Australian TV series OUTLAND scored some of the highest votes in the festival.

We’ll hear all about the international response to Outland next week on the show.

Image from Where’s Outland.

AFL & NRL Threaten TV’s Future

For a group of people who don’t really follow sport all that much, we really do talk about its coverage a lot on Boxcutters. One of the reasons we do this is because sport, traditionally, leads the way in terms of pushing the technology of television.

Optus has a service called “TV Now” that works as a kind of mobile phone PVR for its customers. At the end of last month, the AFL and NRL started questioning the copyright issues related to the service.

Of course, what the two football codes were always worried about was how Optus’s service would affect its deal with Telstra.

Now that question will be for the Federal Court to decide, as Boxcutters friend and Age journo, Lucy Battersby reports:

The Federal Court will tomorrow hold a hearing on a request by Optus to restrain the AFL and NRL from suing it for breach of copyright for its TV Now service, which was launched on July 19. The service allows Optus phone and internet customers to watch AFL games on an effective delay of as little as two minutes.
It could prove to be an important test case for content rights in the era of internet television and multimedia devices.

This is a tough one for TV fans. The Telstra deal was vital for the promotion of portable TV viewing. That is, it was vital until TV Now came out.

The concept of TV Now is nothing short of brilliant and hindsight tells us it was bound to happen. Telstra may have used bad judgement but, more realistically, may have just been unlucky: Bad judgement because it did not do due diligence in researching technologies that would undermine its deal and unlucky because Optus chose this moment to remember that telecommunications is a competitive industry.

What is most confusing here is that the AFL and NRL are defending Telstra in a copyright claim rather than supporting the idea that their games will become available to an even wider audience.

If TV Now is stopped in its tracks, it will not be because Telstra made a bad deal and failed to remember caveat emptor. It will be because AFL and NRL are monsters of greed that don’t care about their fans or the games they represent. As such, it will be a loss to sport and television.

(Yes, we are aware that the title of this post might be a little too dramatic. -Ed.)

James Talia resigns from Nine

The Australian Media Diary rumour blog reports (or alleges, they’re not clear on that), that friend of Boxcutters, James Talia, has resigned from Channel Nine news.

The Channel Nine news website still lists him as a reporter but it also lists his age as 34 (he was born in 1975) and has not changed the name of one of their reporters who married and took her husband’s name (or so we understand). It also still features a page for reporter Amy Parks, who moved to Channel Seven in 2009.

We wish James the best of luck with whatever his future has in store for him.

Aside: Punctuation pedants will enjoy the line in the Jacqueline Freegard bio page that lists her outside interests as spending time with “Jack Russell Hugo”. Is that three people, one person or a dog? (Yes, I had a lot of fun looking at the Channel Nine News website.)

Senate enquiry into ABC cuts

Federal Senator, Nick Xenephon, wants the Environment and Communications References Committee to investigate the recent cuts to production announced by the ABC.

According to the Australian, the Committee is to report back by 12 October 2012.

Meanwhile, the ABC itself reports on the situation with the following par:

Earlier this month Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he wanted answers from the national broadcaster’s managing director, Mark Scott, over the decision to axe the The New Inventors [sic]and Art Nation.

(Source: ABC News)

There is an issue here about how much influence any government can have over the ABC and where the line of that influence is drawn. Are specific matters of programming and the axing of shows smaller issues than a government should concern itself with? What about when it comes to regional jobs?

Reporting Suicides is now Okay

The Australian Press Council, earlier this week, released new guidelines with respect to reporting suicide cases in the news.

This report in the Age outlines all the details.

We’ve covered this concept a lot in the past on Boxcutters and the trend to euphemise suicide has definitely waned in TV journalism.

We wonder if there will be an official statement instructing TV and radio journalists to be more explicit about suicide.

Considering that the statistics show increased suicides after a suicide report, will we see a spike in the number of suicides? Has the euphemism of “no suspicious circumstances” become so well-known now that it’s a bit ridiculous to continue with the ruse?

The After-Life of the Soap Opera

At a time when soap operas are falling off free to air television in the developed world, its lack of subtext helps developing nations overcome disturbing social issues.

In a great episode of Radio National’s Future Tense we get to hear about the after-life of the soap opera.

It kind of gives more credence to this idea that the soap opera is an important part of television’s childhood and that in a lot of countries that’s exactly where television still exists.

In Australia, Neighbours has be moved to a “non-core” channel and in the US shows including All My Children and One Life to Live have been cancelled.

The question remains, though, if this is the end of our childhood then what sort of adolescence are we expecting for television? Is it going to be another 50 years? What is that 50 years going to look like?

Have a listen to the episode and then please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Federal and State TV Recycling

The Federal Government in conjunction with the Victorian and NSW State Governments have launched a scheme to recycle old televisions.

If you live in regional Victoria or the NSW border areas currently undergoing the switchover to digital television, you can take your old TV to certain collection points.

In a media release, Senator Conroy said: Most analog televisions will be able to receive the full suite of free-to-air digital TV channels by adding a digital set-top box, so people don’t necessarily need to replace their televisions for the switchover. We are conscious, however, that people may take this opportunity to upgrade their technology, Continue reading “Federal and State TV Recycling” »

TV Manufacturers Put on a Brave Face

This week’s episode of Radio National’s Background Briefing programme is all about the battle for the lounge room and speaks to our question of how to define television.

They do a great job (much better than we’ve done) of explaining how simultaneously simple and complex the concepts are. People really have no idea what is going on around them and yet technology companies keep pushing out new products.

It’s interesting to hear people say things like: “ Perhaps you’ll just do [internet banking] while you’re sitting around in the lounge room. And you won’t get up and go and get your laptop out and connect to the internet.” It’s a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

The attempts by the companies that make television sets to stay relevant in a culture that is moving towards constant and portable access to everything seems so transparent and shallow. There’s the stench of desperation around it. They’re trying to make it sound like convenience but it really just comes across as being ill-conceived and reactionary.

Have a listen for yourself or read the transcript.

More of Ben Elton’s Ratings

Last week we mentioned the ratings for Ben Elton: Live from Planet Earth across the country. That graphic didn’t give the full picture because, while it showed a big drop off for the show itself it didn’t give an indication of what happens generally at that timeslot.

So, for last Tuesday (15 Feb) we have the Melbourne figures of Seven vs Nine.
Continue reading “More of Ben Elton’s Ratings” »