Broadcast and beyond: an industry snapshot of content control technologies and digital television in Australia

Digital communications Information technology Broadcasting Australia

Between March and September 2006 researchers interviewed 38 Australian television industry figures about their attitudes and experiences with regard to content control technologies for digital broadcasting. The interviews formed part of a three year research project into legal and technological mechanisms for controlling digital television content, which is funded by the Australian Research Council and encompasses questions in the fields of copyright law, media law and media policy.

The interviews explored issues such as content control for digital television broadcasts; viewer reuse of broadcast content; the interaction of technical and regulatory controls; and more general matters about the future of television in Australia. The aim was to gather a range of views from across the industry, including individuals employed within commercial, national, subscription and community broadcasting, external legal advisors, the production sector, industry organisations and regulators. Interviewees were asked for their individual, anonymous views and they appeared to provide frank responses. Interviewees certainly had a great deal of experience in the industry on which to draw: the median time they had spent working in the field was 15 years and the mean was more than 16 years.

This brief report outlines two related areas where information has been collected from the interviews: attitudes to content control technologies and viewer reuse of digital audiovisual content. Overall, the observations distilled here from industry professionals are largely consistent with points raised earlier in this project, such as the existence of varied industry attitudes to whether time-shifting for personal use should be allowed under Australian copyright law. But the snapshot from industry set out here will also provide a useful reference in more detailed future analysis of legal and policy issues concerned with digital television and content control in Australia.

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