Friday, December 23, 2005

2006: The Unbundled Awakening | Donata Communications

Terry Heaton offers up his latest thoughts in his ongoing series "TV News in a Postmodern World". This episode takes a look at where he thinks the media is headed next year. While some of what he has to say is overtly U.S. based (as expected) there are elements that I found particularly interesting.

"Despite the fears and anger of many television news employees, the VJ model of newsgathering will spread to more stations in the U.S. during 2006."

This is still a little way away here, but give it time. Newspapers have already started sending out VJ's and TV crews have been shrinking for a while. Career that most needs to be concerned for 2006?: News Editor.

"Online video will be where much of the action is in 2006. ABC and Apple began the explosion this year by offering unbundled programs via download to Video iPods, and the results have been significant. So much so that the other networks, studios and even outside players have jumped on the bandwagon. Rocketboom, the quirky slice of life offered daily by Andrew Michael Baron and the increasingly glamorous Amanda Congden struck a deal with TiVo that makes their vlog available to TiVo users — just like any other television program. This is the final insult to the broadcasting industry — that two young people from New York with a great idea and little resources can compete with their expensive programming. It's only the beginning."

Anyone that's been through this site knows how much I love Rocketboom. While it's true they've copped a bit of a pasting from the more hardcore elements of the vlogging community (who consider Mr Baron's and Ms Congdon's contribution to not entirely follow the spirit of the vlogging ethos) I love what they've done and how they've done it. To the cast and crew of Rocketboom I would offer you my best wishes and a warning to keep an eye on falling into "Wayne's World Syndrome" as the money starts to trickle in. The show's what it is because you made it so. You don't need any media consultants to tell you how to "fix" it (and I can already smell them circling).

While we're on the subject of downloadable content, here's a thought. ABC, NBC and the like have been able to offer incredible shows for nominal download fees to show on the iPod. This will come to affect Australia, not as much as some proselytise, but more than others seem to think. Even if these shows don't make it to the Australian version of iTunes, it's not that difficult to get them through the U.S. site. What do you need, a U.S. credit card? As I mention further down, the internet kind of assists people to find others to help. Once that's in place, the idea of holding onto a show for three months before you start playing it (Series 2 of Lost anyone? Channel 7, I'm looking in your direction...) kind of loses its logic. So what do you do as an Australian television channel? Put out your own content for download on iTunes. Really? Blue Heelers? McLeod's Daughters? We've let our industry get to the point where the real money-spinners are American, and we don't have the rights to charge for them! With less money coming in through traditional TV advertising, how do you plug the local production holes? And with less money coming in comes less money for buying local content. Local content that the ABA says you have to have. Another serve of Funniest Home Videos anyone?

"...citizens media...will continue to be the driving disruptive force confronting all media in 2006. Whether it's blogs competing for political dollars or vlogs competing for eyeballs, citizens media is here to stay... The single most important piece of advice I can give to any media entity in 2006 is to get involved in the local citizens media community."

I'm agreeing with Terry on this one. It's something I keep coming back to but don't believe I've mentioned here. For the last ten to fifteen years we've been told that the internet is this huge, international phenomenon, where a customer in Timbuktu can buy a swiss watch from a store in Brisbane, or a Danish retiree can discuss his love of Smurfs with a Chinese paraplegic. And while this ability to find and create new communities to overlay our physical communities (Foucault's Heterotopia) has been of great importance to the growth of the internet, there seems to be more and more awareness of the power the internet can hold in the local, physical community. In an Australian TV mediascape that seems to be based around shrinking local participation and content (Channel 10's weekend news, Channel 7 doing various city's news out of their Melbourne Broadcast centre) the need for local voices, local citizen voices, has never been greater. Moreover, the ability to reach those people has never been easier.

And I keep telling myself that, but I still haven't moved...

"But the remarkable thing about these enormous changes in our business and our culture is the opportunities that exist for all of us. More people will lose their jobs in the industry next year, and some will be forced to learn new skills and think for themselves in a different way. It will be the best thing that ever happened for them.

There's little about change that we can control except the way we react to it. We can fight it or accept it; it's really that simple. Those who accept it will find a fascinating world awaits their skills and abilities. For those who continue to cling to old beliefs and old ways of doing things, it won't be pretty."

As someone who jumped ship early, I can only say "here here"!

I have to say, between my work and my university this has to have been one of, if not the most intellectually satisfying year of my life. And so I find myself going in to a new year, two more subjects left to finish up the degree, lots of production promises from the job (I don't think I can call it a "new job" now that I've been here a year can I?) and ideas running through my head on what to do with all this. Let's hope 2006 is a year where I take what I've learnt and finally do something about it.

I'm gone until Tuesday. To those that celebrate it, enjoy Christmas. To those that don't, have a good weekend. No mention of New Year yet because I'm at work all week in a production downtime. Expect something.

I'm thinking a nice "Year-in-Archived-File-Vision" piece is in the cards...

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