Could commercial broadcasters show local programming? If so, in what form? Would it be purely online, purely on the television or radio, or a mix of both?
Channel 31 Melbourne recently broadcast the Essendon and District Football League Premier and First Division Grand Finals. These grand finals are rare examples local premiership deciders being broadcast on television, through any form of broadcaster, since the mid 1990s.
Channel 31 subsequently uploaded the complete coverage of both games to their YouTube channel.
According to academics there is still a market for local content both in newspaper and recorded media form. Local news, localisations of reality shows are cited as examples of exemplifying this.
Just over half of those surveyed online would like to see more of programming produced in there local area. A further 34% said maybe. In the same survey, about 38% of respondents streamed live programmes online.
Metropolitan television stations broadcast at least the top tear of the major sporting codes in Australia. In Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth Channel Seven broadcast there respective second tier Australian rules competition. In Sydney Seven broadcast the Shute Shield, New South Wales’ highest level rugby union competition.
Channel Nine in Brisbane broadcasts the Queensland Cup rugby league competition as a lead in to the network wide National Rugby League telecast.
Linear television has it’s place “for the moment” within the new media environment according to Media Studies lecturer Joanna McIntyre. “There are demographics who engage with TV how TV used to be. And also Things like sports events are big on free to air TV… they’ll get seven million viewers one particular show.”
Australian television productions are propped up by a local production quota, which applies to free to air networks, set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The quota, which is set to 55% of all programming between six in the morning to midnight, is split into three sub quotas – adult drama, documentary and children.
According to survey data, audiences stream less content online than they watch on the television. This may be attributable to the content format of the platforms. To fulfill these sub genres, broadcasters have to broadcast 20 hours of documentaries, 25 hours of children’s drama and 860 “points” of adult drama. The adult drama score is worked out as format factor x duration (in hours).
The internet has changed the way we consume programming that has traditionally been the realm of linear over the air television and radio. It has also changed the way it is produced. A half hour television programme lasts about twenty two minutes once the ad breaks are taken out. An hour programme lasts 44-45 minutes.
This is standard industry practice.
The internet doesn’t need these deliverables. Shows can last from about four to five minutes for a comedy show up to a proper half hour for a review show. Live sport and discussion forums are streamed for upwards of an hour. However, the online sporting broadcasts are still lower than the televised equivalents.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, there are approximately 2500 businesses providing film and video production and post-production services. Some of these have produced live and recorded coverage of lesser known events specifically for an online environment.
Local content will always have it’s place according to Dr McIntyre. “Even in a globalised world even formats such as reality TV shows that appear across the world in all sorts of different countries, they work very consciously and effectively to localise the content… so that in it self speaks to the fact that people still want local content, that you cant just have generic or just American content, that there will always be a need for localised content, that people will always be interested in localised content and they wont put up with just external globalised content.”
In a 2005 presentation, Mark Pesce identified that audiences were moving away from watching television programming on an actual television. They were, he said, moving to more phone/tablet space.
“From viewers you can get everything else,” Pesce said. “The fundamental reason to create a television broadcast is to have people watch it… So, how do you extract money from the viewers? You don’t. Again, you extract money from the advertisers, that’s what they’re for.”
“We’ve spent 50 years learning how great television is, learning how great a well told story can be. We won’t, if we have the technological means, let things stand in the way of that pleasure.”
Smart phones and tablets have allowed the consumer to access content more readily than they would with a PC or laptop. This includes news.
“There have been many studies that have suggested that local or community news is have a resurgence in the online era,” said Journalism lecturer Renee Barnes. “Hyper local news ventures in the US have been hugely successful in servicing local community informational needs.”
The same may be said here in Australia.
“We have seen a number of big international online players, like The Guardian, Buzz Feed and The Daily Mail enter the Australian market suggesting that the Australian online media market is still growing,”
This changing environment does not change the fundamentals of journalism according to Dr Barnes.
“We still teach journalists of the future what news is and how to communicate it for the audience, regardless of the platform on which that audience is accessing that news. Incorporated with the fundamentals of journalism we also reflect the many changes happening in industry in the classroom and help students navigate this new and uncertain media environment.”
About forty percent of survey respondents streamed content live at least occasionally. This number doubles when pre recorded content is taken into account with the home computer being the most common device used.
This data suggests that the physical presence of the television is still a factor in how people consume media content. A desktop computer or laptop can be hooked up to a modern television using only an HDMI cable. It is also possible to put downloaded content on a USB stick and plug that into the television.
So could commercial broadcasters show local programming? Sure. In what form? A purely online would not be unreasonable. However, there is still a sizeable audience for the traditional television services.