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Address by Ian Sinclair



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THE GOVERNMENT'S VIEW ON FUTURE TELEVISION

ADDRESS TO THE 25TH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE

FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIAN COMMERCIAL TELEVISION STATIONS BY THE RT. HON. IAN SINCLAIR, MINISTER

FOR COMMUNICATIONS, MONDAY> 21 SEPTEMBER, 1981, 12 NOON

The c o m m e r c ia l t e l e v i s i o n i n d u s t r y c e l e b r a t e d l a s t week 25

YEARS OF TELEVISION BROADCASTING - ITS SILVER ANNIVERSARY.

J . t - " " .. - ■ ; . " κ ■ ' ■ .

I T IS MY PLEASURE TO ADDRESS YOUR CONVENTION TODAY

AND TO CONGRATULATE THE COMMERCIAL BROADCASTING INDUSTRY ON

ITS ACHIEVEMENTS OVER THESE 25 YEARS.

Today c o m m e r c ia l t e l e v i s i o n r e a c h e s n e a r l y as many p e o p le

as th e Na t i o n a l Br o a d c a s t in g Se r v i c e . To me i t seem s t h a t

TH IS HAS BEEN DUE, TO A LARGE PART, TO POLICIES WHICH HAVE

ENCOURAGED GROUPS OF PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE MAJOR METROPOLITAN

AREAS TO ESTABLISH COMMERCIAL TELEVISION STATIONS TO MEET

THE NEEDS OF PARTICULAR COMMUNITIES. VlHILE POLICIES WHICH

RESTRICT THE NUMBER OF COMMERCIAL TELEVISION STATIONS PROTECT

THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN GRANTED LICENCES, IT HAS BEEN, AND WILL

CONTINUE TO BE, ESSENTIAL TO HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER THE

NUMBER OF RADIATED BROADCASTING SERVICES.

One of t h e l i m i t a t i o n s on t h e n u m ber o f c o m m e r c ia l l i c e n c e s

THAT CAN BE GRANTED IS THE SPECTRUM SPACE IN THE BROADCASTING

2. Λ

BAND WHICH IS AVAILABLE, AND WHICH HAS TO BE CAREFULLY

ADMINISTERED TO'PROTECT THE BROADCASTING SIGNALS FROM INTER­

FERENCE, T he o th e r reason i s a s t r a i g h t - out one of e c o n o m ic

V IA B IL IT Y - I T DOES NOT SERVE THE COMMUNITY INTEREST IF TWO

ORGANISATIONS ARE COMPETING TO PROVIDE A SERVICE IN AN AREA

WHERE THE ECONOMICS WILL SUPPORT ONLY ONE SUCH SERVICE.

Ce r t a in l y i n c h a n g es t h a t w i l l flow from t h e new t e c h n o l o g y

t h e Go vernm en t do es no t see i t s e l f as b e i n g in t h e b u s in e s s

OF PUTTING PEOPLE OUT OF BUSINESS, PARTICULARLY IF THIS IS

GOING TO PREJUDICE THE LOCALISM CONCEPT WHICH HAS BEEN SO

IMPORTANT IN THE FIRST TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF TELEVISION IN

Au s t r a l i a .

As AN INDUSTRY, COMMERCIAL TELEVISION HAS BENEFITED FROM THE

ECONOMIC PROSPERITY IN AUSTRALIA DURING THE 1960S AND THE

1970s. The chang e to colour t e l e v i s i o n was seen b y t h e p u b l ic

TO HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED IN A HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL MANNER,

ALTHOUGH IT WAS NO DOUBT THE CAUSE OF MUCH A C T IV IT Y IN THE

BOARDROOMS AND THE MANAGEMENT AREAS OF TELEVISION COMPANIES

LEADING UP TO THAT CHANGE.

Some o ther i n d u s t r i e s m ig h t c o n s id e r t h a t c o m m e r c ia l t e l e v i s i o n

HAS HAD A PRIVILEGED RUN. IT HAS BEEN IMMUNE FROM THE

OCCASIONAL ECONOMIC TROUGHS; IT HAS EXPERIENCED CONSIDERABLE

GROWTH IN REVENUES; AND REGULATION HAS LIM ITED OR RESTRICTED

THE NUMBER OF COMPETITIVE SERVICES.

3.

Wh i l e a l l t h a t may be t r u e ', I know t h a t t h e in d u s t r y has

HAD TO WORK VERY HARD TO ACHIEVE THE RESULTS TO DATE. I n

THE MAINLAND CAPITAL C IT IE S COMMERCIAL TELEVISION IS A VERY

COMPETITIVE INDUSTRY, REPUTATIONS RISING AND FALLING WITH

THE RESULTS OF THE M c Na IR -A nDERSON SURVEYS. I t IS A

" p r e s s u r e - c o o k e r " in d u s t r y w h ic h d em a nds t h e -a p p l i c a t i o n of

HIGH-QUALITY CREATIVE EFFORT WITH EFFIC IE N T MANAGEMENT. I f

you "bomb o u t" on an e x p e n s i v e l o c a l p r o d u c t io n or im p o r t e d

PROGRAM THERE COULD BE SOME NASTY CONSEQUENCES FOR THE STATION -

MANAGEMENT. THE INDUSTRY IS REQUIRED TO MAKE JUDGMENTS ON.

THE ENTERTAINMENT APPETITE OF WHAT IS A FICKLE OR UNPREDICTABLE

PUBLIC. I n A LONG PO LITICA L CAREER, I AM WELL AWARE OF HOW

PUBLIC REACTION MAY BE QUITE THE OPPOSITE TO WHAT YOUR POLITICAL

JUDGMENT LED YOU TO BELIEVE WOULD BE SO.

Those of us who a r e n o t i n t i m a t e l y in v o l v e d i n t h e b u s in e s s

OF TELEVISION MIGHT SEE THE INDUSTRY AS HAVING PURSUED A

RATHER SERENE COURSE. WHILE THERE HAVE BEEN.DISTRACTIONS,

SUCH AS THE CHANGE TO COLOUR TELEVISION. AND THE OCCASIONAL

COMPANY TAKEOVERS, THE INDUSTRY HAS GONE FROM STRENGTH TO

STRENGTH, AND ITS CAPACITY TO PRODUCE PROGRAMS OF INTERNATIONAL

QUALITY HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED ON MANY OCCASIONS.

As LITTLE AS THREE YEARS AGO, THERE MAY NOT HAVE BEEN

-· REASON TO QUESTION THAT THE INDUSTRY WOULD CONTINUE TO

OPERATE MUCH AS IT HAS SO FAR. ΪΗ Ε DEVELOPMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY

SEEM LIK E L Y , HOWEVER, TO CAUSE SOME WINDS OF CHANGE TO ,BLOW

WHICH WILL CAUSE THE INDUSTRY TO THINK VERY HARD ABOUT ITS

FUTURE DIR ECTIO N . I MENTION MATTERS WHICH YOU WILL ALL BE

FAMILIAR WITH - THE PROPOSED DOMESTIC COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE

SYSTEM, THE POSSIBLE INTRODUCTION OF O FF-AIR PAY TELEVISION

AND CABLE TE L E V IS IO N , AND THE POSSIBLE INTRODUCTION OF OTHER

SERVICES SUCH AS VIDEOTEX AND TELETEXT - WHICH COULD ALL

...BRING NEW SERVICES DEMANDING ACCESS TO THE DOMESTIC TELEVISION

RECEIVER.

W e a l l know t h e d i m e n s i o n of t h e i s s u e s . T he d e c i s i o n s w h ic h

Go ve r n m e n t w i l l be r e q u ir e d to make over t h e n e x t few y e a r s

:,IN RESPECT OF THE INTRODUCTION AND APPLICATION OF NEW COM­

MUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES WILL SHAPE THE DIRECTION OF THE

TELEVISION INDUSTRY, AND WILL AFFECT THE WAY THAT THE

Au s t r a l ia n c o m m u n it y i s e n t e r t a i n e d , -in t e r a c t s and p u r s u e s

ITS OWN GOALS. '

Those of us who ha ve to be c o n c e r n e d w it h t h e a c h ie v e m e n t s

IN COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES ARE ONLY NOW STARTING TO

5.

APPRECIATE THE PROBLEMS OF HOW THOSE TECHNOLOGIES CAN BE

APPLIED OR ABSORBED IN A WAY WHICH BRINGS.THE GREATEST

BENEFIT TO THOSE WE ALL SERVE IN THE END, I . E . , THE AUSTRALIAN

COMMUNITY. .

I NOTE, FROM THE TOPICS WHICH ARE TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE „ " ·. · · ··

SPEAKERS DURI NG T H I S C ON V E N T IO N , THAT SOME OF THE MATTERS I

HAVE REFERRED TO W I L L BE D I S C U S S E D FURTHER. WH IL E THAT

D I S C U S S I O N W I L L NOT BE THE* LAST WORDS ON THOSE MATTERS,

THEY W I L L SERVE THE MOST USEFUL PURPOSE OF FOCUSING A T T E N T I O N

ON THE I S S U E S ON WHICH I WOULD EXPECT THE T E L E V I S I O N INDUSTRY

TO- EX P RE S S V I E W S TO THE GOVERNMENT. . .

F or s o m e y e a r s now t h e F e d e r a t i o n h a s b e e n c r i t i c i s i n g t h e

LACK OF AN OVERALL PLAN FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF BROADCASTING

SER VI CES FOR A U S T R A L I A . I UNDERSTAND THE ADVANTAGES THAT

SUCH A PLAN WOULD HAVE, BOTH FOR P O L I C I E S FOR THE DEVELOPMENT

OF NEW S E R V I C E S AND FOR THE BROADCASTING I N D U S T R Y , WHICH ■ v.

NEEDS TO HAVE SOME GUIDANCE ON HOW NEW SERVICES ARE LIKELY

TO IMPACT ON THEIR E XIS TIN G OPERATIONS, .

I

6.

I AM SURE THAT YOU WILL ALL WELCOME THE FACT THAT A BROADCASTING

Needs St u d y w i l l be commenced i n t h i s f i n a n c i a l y e a r . T he .

Ap p r o p r ia t io n B i l l s now b e f o r e t h e Pa r l ia m e n t pro po se t h e

ALLOCATION OF AN ESTIMATED $ 5 0 ,0 0 0 FOR A PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

STUDY WHICH WOULD BE DIRECTED AT DEVELOPING A METHODOLOGY $N ‘

ASSESSING COMMUNITY NEEDS FOR BROADCASTING SERVICES. DEPENDING

ON THE RESULTS OF TH IS IN IT IA L SURVEY, THE NEED FOR A FULL . ' ' ■ V· ' . .

n a t i o n a l N e e d s S t u d y w i l l b e c o n s i d e r e d .

T h e p r e s e n t . S t u d y w i l l b e c o n c e n t r a t e d o n s i x n o n - m e t r o p o l i t a n

L O CA T I O N S , W I T H THE O B J E C T I V E OF O B T A I N I N G VI EW S AND I NFORMATI ON

O N : - . . - ' ..... Λ ' ' . . V

(a) t h e m a i n a r e a s o f c o m m u n i t y c o n c e r n t h a t m a y b e m e t

THROUGH BROADCASTING S E R V IC E S ;

(b) t h e t y p e o f d a t a w h i c h w o u l d b e r e q u i r e d f o r a s s i s t i n g

IN THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF BROADCASTING S E R V I C E S ;

( c ) T H E .S T A T E OF THE COMMUNITY AWARENESS REGARDING POSSIBLE

OPTIONS FOR EXTENDING SERVICES BY BROADCASTING MEANS.

I n c l u d e d i n t h e p r o p o s e d e x p e n d i t u r e I r e f e r t o i s a n e s t i m a t e d

AMOUNT OF $ 4 0 , 0 0 0 FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF CONSULTANTS TO PROVIDE

E X P E R T I S E , PARTICULARLY I N THE AREA OF SO CIAL SCIENCE

S T U D IE S .

7.

. . . . . DEVELOPMENTS IN COMMUNICATIONS HAVE CAUSED MY

De pa r tm en t to r e c o n s id e r i t s e x i s t i n g o r g a n is a t io n a l a r r a n g e ­

m e n t s , T he p r e s e n t o r g a n is a t io n of t h e De p a r t m e n t i s la r g e l y

BASED ON TAKING DISCRETE AREAS OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AS BEING

THE FUNCTIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARTICULAR D IV IS IO N S .

Te l e c o m m u n ic a t io n s , ho w ever , i s b e c o m in g a much more co m plex

MATTER FOR STUDY. JUST TO TAKE SEVERAL EXAMPLES, VIDEOTEX

IS A METHOD OF MAKING INFORMATION AVAILABLE USING STANDARD

BROADCASTING SERVICES, WHILE TELETEXT EMPLOYS A DIFFERENT

TECHNOLOGY TO ALSO PROVIDE INFORMATION SERVICES. I t WOULD

SEEM UNWISE,. IF NOT IMPRACTICABLE, TO SIMPLY REGARD TELETEXT

AS A TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE AND TO · - TREAT VIDEOTEX AS

A BROADCASTING SERVICE WHICH HAS NO RELATIONSHIP WITH THE

"HARD WIRE" SERVICE. . *

The oth er e x a m p l e w h ic h I would l i k e b r i e f l y to m e n t io n i s

THE SATELLITE. ΪΗΕ PROPOSED DOMESTIC SATELLITE WILL HAVE

THE CAPABILITY TO PROVIDE A RANGE OF COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES.

Br o a d c a s t in g i s o b v io u s l y one of t h e m a jo r a p p l i c a t i o n s of a

DOMESTIC SATELLITE, AND THE USES OF THE SATELLITE SYSTEM FOR

BROADCASTING SERVICES ARE MATTERS OF MAJOR ' ' -

IMPORTANCE AND INTEREST. WHILE IT IS . r SENSIBLE TO TREAT

THE PROPOSED SATELLITE AS A PARTICULAR PROJECT UP TO A CERTAIN

PLANNING STAGE, THE APPLICATIONS OF THE SATELLITE SYSTEM FOR

8.

BROADCASTING, DATA, AUDIO AND SPECIAL SERVICES, SUCH AS

TELECONFERENCING, ARE MAJOR POLICY QUESTIONS WHICH CANNOT ,

SIMPLY BE CONSIDERED AS BEING LIM ITED IN APPLICATION TO THE

TECHNICAL C A PA B ILITIES OF THE PROPOSED SATELLITE SYSTEM.

I UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR FEDERATION IS ALSO FINDING THE NEED

TO . INCREASE ITS RESOURCES TO RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGES OF

THE FUTURE. COMMUNICATIONS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE .MOST

DYNAMIC AREAS. THE CHALLENGES WHICH THE ISSUES RAISE SEEM.

ALMOST LIM ITLE S S . AT THE SAME T IM E , WE ALL HAVE TO WORK OUT

THE BEST APPROACHES FROM MANY OPTIONS AVAILABLE, AND TO

DEVELOP A WAY OF BETTER INVOLVING THE COMMUNITY IN ASSESSING

THE CHOICES AVAILABLE TO US.

I thank your Executive for the opportunity to meet briefly

HERE WITH YOU TODAY. .

X