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Classification, Convergence, Citizenship: Cultural Researchers in Media Policy Environments Presentation to Cultural Economy and Globalisation Theme Group,

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Presentation on theme: "Classification, Convergence, Citizenship: Cultural Researchers in Media Policy Environments Presentation to Cultural Economy and Globalisation Theme Group,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Classification, Convergence, Citizenship: Cultural Researchers in Media Policy Environments Presentation to Cultural Economy and Globalisation Theme Group, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Parramatta campus, 12 June, 2012 Professor Terry Flew Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology

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3 Incremental change or fundamental reform? "Australia's media content regulation system is like a bowl of spaghetti that's been put to the back of the fridge and gets dragged out every five years, reheated with additional sauce, partly eaten and then put back in the fridge for later. It's complex, tangled and from a media user point of view its impossible to tell which bit of media content connects to which regulatory framework“ (Catharine Lumby). 3

4 Net Libertarianism 4

5 Ten take-aways for researchers 1.There is a mix of accident and design in how policy issues are foregrounded 2.The Internet does not in itself eliminate questions of media regulation 3.In public policy, process can be as important as outcome 4.Policy-making has a mix of principles-based and pragmatic elements 5.The challenges of media convergence are many and varied

6 Ten take-aways for researchers 6.There is a progressive uncoupling of media content from delivery platforms 7.Who is a “media company” is becoming more complicated 8.Global platforms challenge national regulations 9.Policy is hard to explain with one-dimensional theoretical models 10.Cultural economy researchers have to engage with economics

7 Accident and design in setting media policy priorities Design – National Broadband Network – Convergence Review Accident – Rebuff on mandatory Internet filter – need to review scope of Refused Classification (RC) – 58,000 support campaign for R18+ for games – Various Parliamentary committees (cyber-safety, outdoor advertising, classification scheme (?)) – Unexpected events e.g. Kevin Rudd on Bill Henson photographs, “promotion of terrorism”

8 “Community standards” as an ongoing policy issue Policy trajectory has been away from censorship and towards classification Classification as community information Question of adult/child boundaries accentuated in online context Changing nature of problematic content in online context (e.g. child sexual abuse material) Recurring debates about media influence e.g. expectations about news/journalism

9 Process and outcomes

10 Why an ALRC Review? Options – Departmental review – Parliamentary committee – Independent expert committee – Standing Law Reform Commission ALRC Approach to Reviews 1.Building an evidence base 2.Community consultation a.Public submissions b.Stakeholder consultations c.Online consultations 3.Role of Advisory Committee 4.Other expert advice

11 Rationalism and incrementalism Expertise-based policy design – Rationalism – Economic rationalism – New public management – Evidence-based policy – Principles-based policy “Realist” influences on policy design – Incrementalism – Stakeholder influences – Political feasibility

12 Challenges of media convergence

13 Separation of platforms and content

14 Who is the subject of media regulation?

15 National rules and global platforms “Nation state governments clearly have a remit to enforce the laws of their country and to protect public policy priorities when it comes to cultural and social parameters. Their ability to enforce this remit is restricted due to the sheer volume of media content as well as the decentralisation and vast number of media producers.” Kate Crawford and Catharine Lumby, The Adaptive Moment: A Fresh Approach to Convergent Media in Australia (2011), 40. Qualifiers: – Global media are not a new phenomenon (Hollywood?) – Local audiences demonstrate preferences for local content – Not “death of the nation state”

16 National rules and global platforms “New developments do not imply that existing regulations need to extend their coverage over other platforms and services... [I]t is important that instruments used do not hinder the positive developments and aspects of convergence while also being effective, robust and flexible.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Policy Considerations for Audio-Visual Content Distribution in a Multiplatform Environment (2007), 17 policy needs to be premised upon content abundance and increased media competition, 2.technological changes generate new challenges for maintaining technology-neutral media regulations; regulations can have unintended consequences in advantaging or disadvantaging some platforms, services and providers; markets have become more international, and national regulations may not be compatible with these international media and communications markets.

17 Australia’s National Classification System is unsustainable in the medium to long term. Technological developments have already undermined the basis of classification in Australia, and that the trends which we are already seeing will increase exponentially. As a consequence, we recommend a radical rethink of the principles and justification for classification. Australians increasingly have to rely on private forms of classification. Private classification and content assessment will dominate the future media landscape. Failure to face the inevitable demise of classification – a process which has already begun – will lead to inconsistencies within the law. Chris Berg and Tim Wilson, Institute of Public Affairs, Submission 1737a to National Classification Scheme Review, July 2011

18 In many ways, the Convergence Review is suffering from the same problems as the ALRC's Classification Review, in that it's searching for local provincial regulatory responses to a global phenomenon. By casting "convergence" as an Australian media issue which requires an Australian regulatory response, it's easy to predict that the results of the review will be obsolete by the time they're published, overtaken by global developments which pay scant attention to Australian regulators. Mark Newton, Submission to Convergence Review, 28 October 2011

19 It is one of the primary, fundamental responsibilities of government to maintain a community standard of public decency. This responsibility applies to every aspect of society. For example, members of the community are not permitted by law to behave in public in any manner that they can. A system of classification and censorship of content should maintain a community standard of public decency in content and communications in Australia … [As] a community we have a right to assert that there are some materials which are so far contrary to fundamental human rights, or which are such an attack on basic human dignity, or which are so depraved, obscene, destructive or criminal that we do not admit them into our community even for adults. Professor Michael Frazer, Communications Law Centre, Submission to the National classification Scheme Review CI 1230, 15 July, 2011.

20 Neither neoliberaism nor the nanny state

21 Neither neo-liberalism nor the nanny state Government spending as % of GDP in 13 OECD nations

22 Cultural economy researchers have to engage with economics “The apparent inability or unwillingness to criticize economics as useful knowledge from anything but a radically external position produces an extreme disconnection between socio- cultural criticism and the world of economics. Too often, the criticism of academic economics is founded on an imaginary summation, which is really a relative ignorance, of economics; in addition, the point from which such criticisms are offered is often not a theorized analysis of real economic complexities, but an imagined position of radical opposition, in which the only possible politics is defined by the moral project of overthrowing capitalism.” Lawrence Grossberg, Cultural Studies in the Future Tense (2010), p. 107.

23 New Institutional Economics Markets Governance Institutions Embedded socio-cultural forms/structures

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