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Media Watch -

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(generated from captions) allocated shouldn't have had a licence to those people who probably in the first place. that stupid I mean, if the Government's well, good luck to them and the taxpayer's that generous, it's a national disgrace. but I'm saying is for 469,000 mega litres? One of those licences the quantities involved. Yes, I'm aware, I'm aware of that - allowing the Queensland Government And do you think that we should be financial instruments to turn those into

in the next breath? and then ask you to buy them back what I've said to you Ah, well, ah, what, I can say to you. is I think that's all Many taxpayers, I think, is spending $10 billion find it strange that Government to buy water back from irrigators given away for free. that was originally why is that? It is the right thing to do - was made by governments Because the over-allocation on behalf of taxpayers.

They made a mistake.

very very big mistakes. Governments in the past made for those mistakes. Someone has to pay financial crisis Thanks to the global that in the end, people are now painfully aware is at stake, if the national interest dangerous investments. it falls to governments to bail out

and negligence It was poor regulation those bad investments, that allowed so many banks to make it was poor regulation and negligence in crisis. that put the Murray-Darling tell us Now the best experts in the country we've simply run out of choices. Captioning by CSI

CC

THEME MUSIC ANNOUNCER: From Channel Nine in Australia. comes the first television programme 'This is television.' Station TCN presents: and welcome to television. BRUCE GYNGELL: Good evening

That was Bruce Gyngell, a troubled Channel Nine. whose son, David, now runs I'm Jonathan Holmes. And this is Media Watch. not about the past, Tonight, a special program, but about the future of television:

on our increasingly huge TV screens - what's going to be available that for the last 50 years or so and how that will affect the industry real and fictional, has told us Australian stories, through that extraordinary medium.

who ought to know. I've been talking to four people This last two years than the whole previous 30 years has seen more changes

and I think the next five years even more dramatic changes. are going to see Media analyst Peter Cox. television channels into Australia, Next year 15 free-to-air

television channels, hundreds of subscription

of internet television channels and very soon thousands into your lounge room that you'll be able to receive and watch on your television set. than we've ever had before. So, so much more choice of the ABC Mark Scott, Managing Director For free-to-air broadcasters the revenue is fragmenting, the audience is fragmenting, there for them. there's a big challenge

formerly premier of Queensland Wayne Goss,

and now chairman of Free TV Australia, the lobby group that represents the commercial free-to-air TV stations. Oh, I think it's marvellous

when one looks at what's going to happen over the future. And Kim Williams, CEO of the biggest pay-TV supplier, Foxtel. A cornucopia of television is coming - in your lounge room, on your computer, on your mobile phone. But for commercial free-to-air TV, most observers agree,

that's more a threat than a promise. They made all their money by bringing together big audiences and then selling those audiences to advertisers. But now with so many choices those audiences are going to be smaller and smaller. They're less lucrative. So some of the things we've come to expect we may not be able to watch anymore.

The biggest immediate change is that from 1 January,

all five free-to-air broadcasters will be able to offer alternative programs on a second, standard definition digital channel. For two years now, the networks have been allowed to offer new programs on their High Definition digital channel. Not that they've offered all that much. But only the ABC has a separate standard definition channel showing new Australian material - ABC 2. Seven, Nine and Ten were given extra channels too, for nothing -

you can find them if you have a set-top box. But they've only been allowed to show whatever's on their main channel. Those bizarre restrictions were put in place

to protect the infant PAY TV industry. The commercial free-to-airs have mostly been happy to go along. There hasn't been much enthusiasm for multi-channeling. Well, they definitely don't want to do anything with them.

The problem is very simple. They have at the moment 78% of viewers. Pay TV has 22%. But free to air has 93% of advertising. Pay TV only has 7%.

So when we move to the multichannel environment and you've got the free-to-airs - instead of five channels, having 15 to 20 channels,

who do you think the share is going to come from? And the great fear of the free-to-airs is that they're going to cannibalise themselves. In other words, for the commercial operators, programs for the new digital channels will cost a lot of money - but probably won't produce any more revenue.

So what will they offer from 1 January? Well, they're still vague about that. Well, you'll have to watch this space but I would hope to see and I would expect to see for example, more sport on the new channels, news and current affairs channel, children's channel, a movie channel, maybe re-runs of popular sitcoms. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Whatever the new channels do contain, don't hold your breath for expensive, high quality Australian programming - and especially not Australian drama. Seven's new series 'Packed to the Rafters' is packing in the viewers. In fact, this has been a vintage year for Australian programming, and Australian-made drama. But compared with the golden age in the '80s, the amount of television drama produced in Australia is dropping. Are you English? No bloody fear! We're Aussies! The ABC, which used to make some of the best,

now barely makes any at all.

And if it weren't for government regulation, argues Mark Scott, the commercials probably wouldn't either. High quality Australian drama can cost up to $1 million an hour to make. And you can buy a drama that's been made in the States or a drama that's been made in the UK for about one 12th of that.

And so the commitment to make high quality Australian drama, it's a very significant financial cost on networks,

and often the audiences you'll get for Australian drama are good, but they're not that much better that it makes it financially worthwhile to run it. Right now, the commercial networks are forced to make Australian drama. And 55% of their total programming must be produced in Australia. But the requirements for the new digital channels will certainly be lower.

Why not let us have the same rules as Pay TV when it comes to the content that you can broadcast on some of those digital channels, subject, of course, to a parental lock. The requirements for PAY TV are minimal. Just 10% of its drama expenditure must go on Australian content. But analyst Peter Cox says the networks still have plenty of money to make programs -

including drama - or they should have: The Australian television industry

is a $4 billion revenue industry a year. It makes over $1 billion dollars EBIT, that's profit before interest and tax, a billion dollars. Do you know how much they spend on Australian drama? In 2007 they spent $92 million. The real problem for commercial TV, says Peter Cox, is that too much money is going to pay interest on debt.

That's especially true of the Nine Network, whose new owners bought it from James Packer's PBL with mountains of borrowed money. 'Cause they've got $4.2 billion worth of debt, Can you believe this? They're paying like $400-million a year on interest. This is crazy stuff. So at a time when it needs to invest in its new digital channels, Nine is slashing costs, and cutting programs - like its prestige current affairs program, 'Sunday'. It's reminiscent of the late 1980s, when Alan Bond, Christopher Skase and Frank Lowy all lost fortunes in commercial TV. Here we are now in 2008 and we've got the same situation. Inexperienced operators coming in, taking over a traditional business,

paying too much, taking on too much debt and then thinking that they're going to be able to run it far better than what the previous management's been able to do so and extract great profitability from it. This is just crazy. This is not possible. It's fantasy? It is total fantasy. Well, look I'm not sure that any of the part owners, of my members, or you or I foresaw what was coming in terms of the global financial crisis and the impact that that has had on debt and liquidity. Sure it's a problem, it's a problem right across the economy. The economic downturn has come at the worst possible time for the networks. It will hit their advertising revenue hard. What all this means, says Mark Scott, is there'll be a much lower proportion of Australian content on the new channels than we got on the old. And lower quality too. Not surprisingly, he's got a solution. We think that's a great opportunity for the ABC. Well, except the ABC hasn't been making Australian drama in any quantity for years.

What you're asking for is more money. We are asking for more money, 'cause we think there's an argument that says unless the ABC is going to make high quality Australian drama then the audience will be denied that. And I think this is one of the perversities about so much choice that's available. Foxtel's Kim Williams doesn't see why the taxpayer needs to pay more. Jonathan, we spend more on Australian content than the ABC. So that for the ABC to pontificate about levels of Australian content I see as being somewhat ironic. What's needed, says Williams, is not more regulation, but less. Foxtel's 150 channels, he says,

spend far more than the legal minimum on Australian content - not that that's saying much.

'Love My Way'... This is 'Love My Way's third Logie in a row...

But in amongst the 24-hour News and Weather and sports channels, there is the occasional critically-acclaimed drama like 'Love My Way'.

You know life is not all about being told to do things. Life is often about saying "What if we do this?" or "what if we do that?" You know, will it work? But Foxtel too is under threat in this new TV world.

Sport is its major drawcard. Another bitter battle is looming, which will determine what sports you see, and where. Under Australia's anti-siphoning laws, free-to-air TV has first dibs on the most popular Australian sports. But up to now there's been plenty left over for PAY TV to buy. The anti-siphoning list is about a very important principal and that is that Australians have always got their major sports free to air and that's 99% of Australians that free-to-air broadcasters deliver to, I think that's a principle that neither side of politics would interfere with, and expect to continue to get. it's something that Australians get the infant PAY TV industry, But, again, to protect

haven't been allowed the free-to-air commercials on their digital channels. to show any of those sports it's time to get rid of that rule. Now, they say, on the multi channels, Why not let us put some of our sport digital take up - that's important 'cause it'll drive big challenge for the government - but also delivers diversity. on digital TV, But the more sport that's shown free for PAY TV to buy - the less there'll be left for providers like Foxtel. and that's a potentially mortal blow If that were to be permitted aggressive decision it would be an absolutely and of the Government on the part of the parliament

against subscription television in Australian broadcasting which is the only sector investments in digital technologies, that has made the really big and digital roll-out. in digital innovation, Kim Williams and Mark Scott It's certainly true that about the new age that's dawning are far more enthusiastic than the free-to-air commercial channels. This is a different world we're moving in to. and hope from it. And I can only see opportunity the new opportunities - No doubt because most of like Foxtel's IQ and the ABC's iView, vodcasting, mobile TV - hard-disk recorders, to skip the ads - all make it easier for viewers networks to make money. and harder for commercial free-to-air is that all of the players - The clear impression I get all of the players - on what the others are doing, are keeping a close eye with these options all of them are playing via different platforms that deliver choice a lot of activity and I think you'll see as the broadcasting world evolves. out of all of these new platforms But how can you make money to skip through the ads? where people are going Watch this space. facing the industry. That's the dilemma the media industry are changing The financial models for and it is definitely not clear to come from in the future. where the revenue is going with answers pretty soon. They will have to come up in the digital world. Australia is lagging behind especially the ABC's Radio National Ironically it's radio, that's been in the news this week. was suspended Today, presenter Stephen Crittendon the axing of his program for comments he made following

The Religion Report. of the issues arising We expect to look at some next week. when we return to our usual format Join me then. Closed Captions by CSI

CC Good evening. The Prime

Minister says the nation's

future fund has stood up well

to the turmoil in the financial

markets. The $63 billion piggy

bank was set up just over a

year ago to protect the

country's economic future. It's

annual report revealed one

executive was paid more than

$900,000 at a time when the

Prime Minister has criticised

inflated salaries in the

financial sector. Senator

McCain says he will continue to

fight to be elected President

despite lagging in the opinion

polls. Senator McCain was dealt

another blow when George W.

State Colin Powell Bush's former secretary of

State Colin Powell shocked

Republicans by endorsing Barack

Obama as the next president of

the United States. General

Powell criticise ed McCain's

ability to tackle the economic

crisis and his choice of

running mate. Japan is the

latest country to experience a

food safety scandal, this time

involving rice from China and

Vietnam. The rice was

contaminated with pesticides

and mould and was meant to be used to make

used to make glue and animal

feed. Instead it ended up in

school lunches and saki. The

scandal has deeply embarrassed

the Japanese Government.

Tomorrow's weather forecast -

storms in Perth and Brisbane.

In the south-east cities, cool

and cloudy with showers. Mother

news in 'Lateline' at

THEME MUSIC WHISTLING Thank you very much. Thank you. That's too much. Welcome to Enough Rope. Thank you. Good evening. a young medical student won a spot In 1971, in Australia's first filmmaking workshop. There, he was given a roll of film 2 minutes and 45 seconds long and told to tell a story. The result was extraordinary - a completely finished film edited in camera the likes of which his tutor Phil Noyce has never again witnessed. "All I could see," said Noyce, "was a film genius." Since then, that medical student has bought us Mad Max, Babe, Bodyline, Bangkok Hilton and Happy Feet, to name but a few. Ladies and gentlemen, George Miller. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE I'd like to start with a story that could have been from one of your films - his home when he was just ten. the story about your dad leaving Dad was an economic refugee, really. in the Aegean Sea, He came from an island called Kythira. or on the Ionian Sea, early part of the 20th century, And because it was so poor, it was

he left, got on a boat. His mother said... and she waved a white scarf. She had a big scarf, He remembers watching the scarf until he could see no more white. and never saw his mum again. And he came to Australia at nine

though, at that age What a tough thing, to wave goodbye to your mum, God. used to refer to that. Yeah, he always my dad. He used to write a lot of poetry, He wrote some lovely poems about it. when you returned to Kythira, Many years later, home, what was that like? when your dad took the four boys

that when he returned, My grandfather said which he did when he was in his 40s, of the island would ring. all the bells in the chapels And my father turned up. The whole village was there to meet him at the boat. And then they made their way up the mountain. But my grandfather wasn't there, and he spent his whole day going to all the chapels, ringing the bells. Isn't that beautiful? my brothers and I, back, So when my father took us, we went to the church the first thing we did, which his great-grandfather built. where his great-grandfather... That's fantastic. And he rang the bells. you made for Phil Noyce Now this film, this 2:45-minute film when you were a medical student, in his view. which was so perfectly formed,