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TUTOR: RUBY TUESDAY

Assessment 2 - Essay

THE ABC AND


CONVERGENCE
By Dario Maruca

Table of Contents
Introduction 2
Business Models and Social Norms
The Impacts of Convergence

Perspectives 5
Conclusion

Reference List

Attachment 1: Interview 8, 9, 10

Introduction
Media in the modern age has become one of the most vital aspects of everyday life.
Whilst technology advances a theory known as Convergence tends to hold a vital
part in the development of modern media services. According to ACMA (Australian
Communications and Media Authority) (2011), convergence can be defined as the
phenomenon of blurring the traditional distinctions between broadcasting media
elements. A clear example of this in modern culture is that of digital media services.
Cunningham & Turnbull (2014, p4.) also referred to the convergence theory being
broken up in to three dimensions: technologies, industries and policies. In recent
times, the convergence theory has been greatly implemented by multiple media
services including those known as Public Service Broadcasters. It is of firm belief
that convergence has caused a huge response within the public media service
industry in accordance with increasing competition and advancing technologies due
to the three dimensions that were mentioned above.

Business Models and Social Norms


According to Dr Christina Spurgeon (2014a), a Public Service Media company is a
firm that is established by government to provide media services that address the
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cultural and informational requirements of citizens. PSBs are, in essence, content


providers that focus primarily on informative media rather than entertainment
(Commercial Media Broadcasters) by neglecting commercial influences. Public
Service Media has been attributed to a sense of national identity as it is locally
produced media for local audiences.
One of the largest Public Service Broadcasters is that of the ABC or Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. The ABC is completely government funded corporation
and is essentially the Australian governments primary broadcasting service to
citizens and consumers. However, this is also what differentiates it from other nonfor profit broadcasting services. PSBs are totally funded by taxpayers which is
contrast to community-based media that is usually funded by donations from local
communities, this is because PSBs aim to appeal to a broader nationwide audience
(Hartley, 2011, p. 216).
The charter of the corporation is found in section 6 of the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation Act (1983) and pertains to the standards and regulations that are aimed
to be followed by the ABC. In section 1 part A, the main goal of the ABC can be
found, it states: the paramount function of the ABC is to provide within Australia,
innovative and comprehensive broadcasting services (Australian Broadcasting Act,
1983). By consistently adhering to their charter, the ABC clearly indicates that it
remains a morally impartial source of information that observes Australian norms
and contributes to a healthy public sphere. The ABC also pertain to encase six other
goals within their business model, these are to maintain an audience focus, a
standard of high quality, to remain innovative, be value based, be responsible and
to be efficient (ABC, 2014).
As the ABC is not a Commercial Media Broadcaster (CMB), it does not have to
adhere to the pressures that most media services face today from service sponsors,
effectively retaining the value of remaining editorially independent. Because of this
the ABC is able to present content which that is unique and may be considered too
controversial (Spurgeon, 2014b). Fundamentally what this ensures, is that the ABC
is able to present a wider range of unique news topics to the masses equally and
unbiased. This is in stark contrast to Commercial Media Broadcasters like channels
7, 9 and 10. CMBs rely heavily on high ratings to ensure that sponsors are kept
happy and profit is maximised. Commercialized media is often regarded to as a
competitive broadcaster, fundamentally aiming to compete with all forms of other
commercialized programming (Harrington, 2014, p. 182). The latter of which is a
complementary broadcaster which essentially provides programming that caters
for the audiences that are neglected by competitive commercialized media. As
discovered by the Mansfield Review (1997), surveys revealed that the ABC should
aim to cover both types of broadcasting and this is what they have attempted to
ensure by utilizing the Convergence Theory.

The Impacts of Convergence


Public Service Media is one of the more innovative types of media services,
exhibiting a high ability to adapt and facilitate towards current media trends which
is highly correlated to that of the Convergence Theory. Competition is often the
cause of innovation within the media industry, with every entity trying to virtually
stay ahead of the pack. Convergence has been one of the biggest tools for modern
media services to innovate because of the introduction of the internet. The most
prominent example of competitors utilizing convergence in attempt to gain the
upper hand is exposed through the heavy concentration of media ported to mobile
devices such as smartphones and tablets.
In terms of the ABC, it is evident that they have heavily utilised the Theory of
Convergences dimension of technology to effectively reach a greater audience.
This is shown with the development of new mediums in which the ABC have
exported their content on to, one example of this is the introduction of ABC iView.
ABC iView a new technology that allows ABCs audiences to both watch previous
broadcasts as well as view the live television broadcast of ABC News 24 from the
convenience of a persons computer, tablet or smartphone (ABC, 2014). In addition
to this new service, ABC also convey their key messages over a variety of other
mediums such as ABC mobile and even social media outlets like Facebook. These
resources enrich ABCs ability to deliver the same message over multiple methods,
effectively maximising the spread of their content.
Flew (2014, p. 334), suggested that one of the major challenges for government in
regards to media convergence is our how they adapt their policies for the difficulties
that convergence present. Over the past three years, multiple reviews have been
conducted in order to highlight the effects of convergence on modern media
services. The largest of these being The Convergence Review which was an
independent inquiry carried out by the Department of Broadband, Communications
and the Digital Economy which was published in 2012. The inquiry aimed to review
the effectiveness of legislation in accordance with modernized converged media
(Commonwealth of Australia, 2012). This review ensured that all networks that
broadcasted in Australia, aired a certain quota of Australian content. It also set out
guidelines to defining what could be considered Australian Content. In order to
keep accordance with these new government regulations the ABC re-established
itself as a multi-channel media service in television. The first of these new channels
was ABC News 24 followed by ABC 1, ABC 2 and ABC 3 which all focused their
programming on different demographics (ABC, 2014). Notably in 2013 the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act was also amended to recognise the
incorporation of digital provisions in its current media services. (ABC, 2013). This
practice of convergence led to a larger opportunity to increase ratings and for all
intents and purposes, bring more traffic to the ABC networks.

Perspectives
With any topic the perspectives of them vary hugely depending on the indivudal

Government: an asset which has influence on the ABC, viewpoints can be shared.
Virtually a tool for the government to relay messages, however does not seclude to one party but rather
the government as a whole
Citizen: reports unbiased content - clearer view - journalism will be at a higher level
here than commercial media due to commercial medias focus on topics that will
get good ratings / bias to sponsors
Those who rely on morally sensitive journalism that depict unbiased content
Consumer: Less morally based - more focused on consumption of services
(television show),
ABC has historically struggled with this demographic, the consumer views the ABC
as less of an entertainment provider but rather more of an informant of current
affairs.
Industries

Conclusion

Ultimately it is clearly evident that The Convergence Theory has played a huge part
in the advancements of the ABC as a Public Service Broadcaster. Convergence is an
ever essential aspect of remaining competitive and innovative in todays highly
volatile, media centered world. The ABC has been accommodated for with regards
to convergence both in their charter and from their regulatory bodies (The
Australian Commonwealth) which has allowed them to remain competitive with
even Commercial Broadcasting Services. Staying true to their proposed goals and
values, the ABC has successfully utilised convergence to maximise outreach and
popularity by establishing a multi-channel broadcasting service alongside its
previous running broadcasts. Additionally by establishing a heavy online presence
through ABC iView and ABC.net.au, it has substantiated its foothold as the most
reliable and innovative source of current news to the Australian populace.

Reference List
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Amendments to ABC Editorial Policies. (2013). 1st ed. [ebook] ABC, p.2.
Available at: http://about.abc.net.au/wpcontent/uploads/2014/02/EditorialPOLSec11amendedAug2013.pdf
[Accessed 20 Oct. 2014].
Australian Communications and Media Authority, (2011). Digital
Australians Expectations about media content in a converging media
environment. Melbourne: Australian Government, p.7.
Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy,
(2012). The Convergence Review. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Hartley, J., Montgomery, M., Rennie, E. and Brennan, M. (2011).
Communication, cultural and media studies. 4th ed. London: Routledge.
Hogan, P. and Scaddan, C. (2014). About the ABC. [online] About.abc.net.au.
Available at: http://about.abc.net.au/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2014].
Spurgeon, C. (2014). Media and Communication Industries: Week 4 - Public
Media Service.
The Australian Government, (1983). Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act.
The Australian Government, pp.section 6 1a), ba).
Turnbull, S., Cunningham, S., Harrington, S. and Flew, T. (2014). The Media &
Communications In Australia. 4th ed. ALlen & Unwin, pp.Ch 0 P:4,Ch 10
P:182, Ch 24 P:334.

Attachment 1: Interview
Stephen Harrington
Lecturer/Tutor/Teacher
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Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communication at QUT


RATIONALE FOR Stephen has authored a number of journals, articles, book
PROPOSED
chapters and even produced his own book that dealt with the
INTERVIEWEE
forms, functions and futures of Australian news television.
Additionally Stephen also contributed an entire chapter to the
set text that was referenced throughout my essay.

QUESTION
NUMBER
Q1.

Q2.

Q3.

I also personally believe he would be the easiest co contact


due to the fact that he is of course, a lecturer in the course I
am currently studying.
QUESTION
RATIONALE
Over the 1990s and 2000s
when the ABC faced what
you described as crisis,
do you believe it was the
right move by the ABC to
outsource program-making
to independent producers?
So Stephen, in your
chapter of the book The
Media and
Communications In
Australia you briefly
mentioned the difference
between complimentary
and comprehensive
broadcasting services and
how the ABC attempt to
virtually be both with
regards to their
broadcasting, do you
believe it is in their best
interests to do so
considering their business
model?

The ice breaker is to get


Stephen in the mindset of
whether or not the changes that
the ABC have made in the past
decade have been beneficial to
the overall wellbeing of the
corporation
The reasoning behind this
question is to establish whether
or not in his professional
opinion, that attempting to
emulate both forms of
broadcasting is a waste of
resources or if it is in fact
keeping in line with the charter
that ABC have been regulated
with.

Of course with increased


reliance upon convergence
in the media industry, the

This question is based on the


previous however focuses on
what he believes the intentions
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Q4.

Q5.

ABC as you know amended


the 1973 ABC Act in 2013
to incorporate digital
media provisions within
their charter, do you
believe that this was ABCs
attempt at targeting both
the comprehensive and
complimentary types of
broadcasting? Or was this
simply a way for them to
remain competitive?
When ABC finally migrated
content online, Terry Flews
stated in an interview that
approximately one third of
ABC news viewers
migrated to iView to watch
the ABCs programs. Again
you mention in The Media
and Communications in
Australia that since the
turn of the digital age the
only successful programs
were those based on
entertainment purposes.
Do you think that
essentially the ABC
became more of a
comprehensive
broadcaster rather than
complimentary offline?

Jacka observed in 2006


that with the ABC there is
still the reputation that it is
primarily a broadcasting
service for the over-55s

were behind amending the


1973 ABC Act.

This question refers to the fall of


ratings in ABCs television news
programs but rise in
entertainment based
programming.

The reasoning behind this


question is to try and find out
whether or not the changes that
have been implemented by the
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and higher-income
professionals, however do
you believe this reputation
has changed with the
introduction of multichannel broadcasting (e.g.,
ABC 1, ABC 2, ABC 3)?

Q6.

To finish off Id like to ask


the question, in your
opinion, has the ABC
evolved too quickly that it
has failed to meet the
goals set out within its
charter?

ABC in the past decade are


actually proving beneficial to
the ABCs image.

Jacka was referred to in


Stephens chapter in the set
text.
This last question aims at trying
to distinguish whether or not
the ABC is acting within its set
guidelines or whether or not
their innovations are rushed
and in vain of said guidelines.

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