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Conclusion to Part One

Part One of this thesis has analysed the relationship between culture and policy in three ways. First, it has sought to establish a relationship between culture and policy, not at an abstract or ahistorical level, but as a tangible outcome of the management of Australian commercial broadcasting by state regulatory institutions towards goals such as the promotion of national citizenship and national culture. Second, the institutional field of Australian broadcasting is seen as a dense and complex one, where policy directions are promoted in the context of a policy system characterised by concentration of ownership, the ‘soft property’ status attached to broadcast licences, and a policy culture where dominant interests - most notably the commercial broadcast licensees - have possessed the capacity to declare important aspects of their operations ‘off limits’ to regulatory authorities. Regulations to govern the conduct of commercial broadcasting have thus tended to operate by indirect means, and to imply a regulatory quid prop quo between the monopoly profits of the industry and the achievement of citizenship goals and cultural policy objectives. Finally, the likelihood of academic criticism achieving influence over policy outcomes is connected to the capacity to translate critical discourses into the language of policy communities, and to link up with forms of policy activism developed through personal and institutional networks of activists, industry groups, unions, community groups and bureaucrats.

147 Citizenship provides an important link between media as culture and the development of institutional regulatory forms and policy frameworks. The paradox of citizenship in liberal democracies, where free subjects are required to consent to their institutional governance as populations, means that there is an ongoing tension between rule through expertise and popular sovereignty. This is connected to an ongoing debate about the extent to which ‘active citizenship’ should be promoted, where citizens actively participate in the institutional structures of governance. The question of national citizenship, and its relationship to national culture, is also an important animator of media policy. In international terms, Australian television has been among the most open to imported programming in the world, and the development of cultural nationalist media policies does not precede media globalisation; rather, the two competing problematics have coexisted from the inception of television in Australia in 1956.

This makes Australia a particularly interesting case study in the development of forms of cultural policy that aim to maintain discourses of national citizenship in the context of media globalisation, as it has always been a central question of Australian broadcast media policy. It has also given a distinctive complexion to the ways in which the relationship between culture and policy is addressed in the context of Australian media and cultural studies. It is apparent that the ‘policy turn’ in Australian media and cultural studies arose partly out of the need to better translate the concerns of intellectuals and cultural critics to decision-making processes in social and cultural institutions, but also out of a

148 need to address the binary opposition between nationalist and anti-nationalist discourses that had marked a divide between policy activists and critical intellectuals in debates such as those surrounding Australian content regulations for commercial television.

The second part of this thesis will move from general conceptual analysis to detailed empirical case studies in Australian media policy formation. The themes established in the first part of the thesis continue, nonetheless, to inform this empirical work. It is established that the development of media content as a cultural form is intricately linked with regulatory processes, the application of professional expertise to media governance, and political contestation between competing institutional agents. This is apparent in the four case studies developed: moves to expand public participation by the ABT in the 1970s; the debate surrounding Australian content regulations in the 1980s; the period leading up to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 being passed; and the implications of international trade agreements for domestic media policy arrangements. In each of these cases we see tensions between different ways of addressing the Australian media audience as citizens: over the period from 1972 to 2000, such audiences are variously hailed as public participants in the policy process; as national citizens seeking affirmation through media content; as sovereign consumers seeking greater program choice; and as members of a global audience accessing media as content industries.

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