Annotated bibliography (broadcasting policies in a digitized environment)

You shall find in the following a few interesting articles regarding the history of broadcasting policies in Canada, broadcasting policies in general, the impact of digital platforms on regular TV distributors, media stakeholders’ response to foreign digital platforms and the tensions between local media contexts and global digital media. It is noteworthy that many of the articles here collated feature an abroad perspective (Europe, Latin America, Asia, etc.).

Each source is accompanied by a short summary of my own. It is my intention to add articles to this annotated bibliography in the coming months.

Ali, C. (2012). A broadcast system in whose interest? Tracing the origins of broadcast localism in Canadian and Australian television policy, 1950-1963. The International Communication Gazette, 74(3), 277-297. doi: 10.1177/1748048511432608

This article by Ali examines the motives that have historically presided over the implementation of broadcasting regulation in Australia and Canada. His focus is on comparing the importance granted by each country to “localism” television policies, namely policies that foster local community belonging and local news. Upon reviewing policy documentation from the 1920’s to the 2000’s, Ali concludes that localism has been a core tenet of broadcasting regulation in Australia since the very beginning, whereas this preoccupation has rather been overshadowed in Canada. The author, in effect, shows that Canadian media policies have traditionally been designed more with the aim of promoting a strong national identity than reinforcing local communities. This can be explained by policymakers’ fear of Canadian broadcasting being engulfed by American culture.  

Baccarne, B., Evens, T., & Shuurman, D. (2013). The television struggle: an assessment of over-the-top television evolutions in a cable dominant market. Digiworld Economic Journal, 92 (4), 43-61. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2473955

In this article, the authors investigate the impact of over-the-top [OTT] TV services in Flanders (Belgium). In the first section of their paper, they outline a history of the evolution of TV services in Flanders, as well as a portrait of current TV offerings within this market. In the second section, they present the results of a Web survey (n = 1269) carried out in the Flemish region. This survey looks into the number of screens per household, the number of media platforms used by respondents, and the elements media consumers see as the most important when watching content through OTT TV services (price and video quality). It also provides information regarding the popularity of OTT services launched by local TV distributors compared to that of other alternative sources of media content (legal streaming Websites, legal/illegal downloads, set-top boxes like Apple TV and Roku, etc.). In the last section of their article, the authors formulate observations drawn from the survey data. They conclude that OTT TV services, as well as other digital sources of media content, are far from replacing traditional TV distribution and, hence, constitute complementary platforms in the media ecosystem. As such, they argue that OTT TV services are unlikely to lead to large-scale “cord-cutting” in Flanders, an argument further supported by the high level of competition between local broadcasting television undertakings and the popularity of triple-play bundles (phone, Internet, TV). Nevertheless, the authors underscore the fact that significant numbers of younger respondents (20-30 years old) view OTT TV services as medium of substitution for regular TV. 

Dawes, S. (2014). Broadcasting and the public sphere : problematising citizens, consumers and neoliberalism. Media, Culture & Society, 36 (5), 702-719. doi : 10.1177/0163443714536842 mcs.sagepub.com

In this article, Dawes discusses the public/citizen-private/consumer dichotomy that has historically permeated scholarship in the field of broadcasting regulation. Indeed, from a review of literature broaching this matter, he observes that media policies are either seen as the product of public service values or the result of neoliberal forces. He also notes that most academic writings present the history of broadcasting regulation as a continuous shift from citizenship objectives to consumerist aims. This binary view, argues Dawes, represents a weakness of the current literature. He contends that the citizen-consumer dichotomy fails to depict all the nuances held by these two terms, in addition to ignoring the ever-evolving relation that unites them. Moreover, he advocates for a more toned approach with regard to the effects of neoliberalism. Based on these critics, the author propounds a theoretical framework that does not content itself with examining the transition from citizen-driven to consumer-driven media policies as two distinct moments in history, but, rather, investigates how neoliberalism is both positively and negatively modifying interactions between state and market, public and private, citizens and consumers. It is, according to Dawes, the only viable way of looking at how a “regulator’s approach to either citizen or consumer interests can enable or undermine the public sphere”. (p. 715) Undeniably, this article provides a very original, nuanced and theoretically rich canvass against which to evaluate governments’ and regulatory agencies’ response to digital media platforms. 

Doyle. G. (2016). Television production, funding models and exploitation and content. Icono 14, 14 (2), 75-96. doi: 10.7195/ri14.v14i1.991

This article explores the ways independent TV producers in the U.K. can generate revenues for their media content in an environment marked by the increasing presence of subscription video-on-demand [SVOD] services. Relying on interviews with senior executives from production companies and distribution experts, the author argues that digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon Video are impacting producers’ “windowing strategies”, that is, their capacity to strategically plan their content releases with a view to maximizing value for their intellectual property rights [IPRs]. Indeed, this capacity is undermined by SVOD services’ insistence on demanding multi-territorial diffusion rights when buying programs from producers. “Windowing” strategies are also made more difficult by Netflix’s and Amazon Video’s proclivity of retaining rights for long periods of time. Thus, the selling of content to SVOD services lessens the possibility for producers to multiply airings on different media outlets, gain distinct territorial rights, and increase revenues. On a brighter note, the author also underscores the positive aspects of these SVOD services, as evidenced by the interviews. He shows that, despite concerns over IPRs, many producers look favourably on these platforms because they represent new purchasers for their content. In addition, the prestige of being associated with a brand like Netflix is viewed as a motive to broker deals with the American firm. In his conclusion, the author warns producers against the temptation of the “cost plus model of production financing”, often put forward by SVOD services. Within this model, the content distributor “generally pay[s] the full production costs plus a small production fee or ‘profit’ for the producer” (p. 83). Seemingly advantageous, this financing mode, though, comes usually with the obligation for producers of yielding first and secondary rights ownership, which amounts to giving up potential future sources of revenues. 

Evans, E., McDonald, P., Bae, J., Ray, S., & Santos, E. (2016). Universal ideas in local realities: Online viewing in South Korea, Brazil and India. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 22 (5). 1-18. doi: 10.1177/1354856516641629

In this article, the authors reflect upon the global/local tensions stemming from online media viewing. They argue that these tensions are twofold: first, both transnational and domestic subscription video-on-demand [SVOD] services are confronted to local contexts that limit their global reach; secondly, the formidable opportunities offered by these new platforms do not always translate successfully into local realities. In order to prove their argument, the authors use Brazil, India and South Korea as examples. In a first phase, they draw a picture of the quality of ICT infrastructures and the scope of Internet penetration in these three countries. Also, they look at the presence of foreign over-the-top [OTT] services (ex: Netflix) in those markets, and describe a number of local initiatives that exploit the same niche. In a second phase, the article explores Brazilians’, Indians’ and South Korean’s perception of online viewing. This section of the research is based on interviews and surveys conducted in the three countries with tech-savvy media consumers. It appears from the data collected that respondents, regardless of their nationality, share the very same ideals with regard to what online viewing should be. Indeed, there is an overall sentiment that digital media content ought to travel across borders with minimum restrictions. The respondents also identify the capacity of accessing a wide range of content as being of paramount importance for them. However, the authors note from the interviews that these aforementioned wishes (choice/ free flow of information) are not easily achievable, especially in certain parts of Brazil and India, because of particular socio-economic realities (poor network coverage, slow broadband speed, antiquated ICT infrastructures, urban/rural disparities, political factors). In the last phase of the article, the authors show, through a case study, how these constraints carry a lot of weight in the Indian context. 

Kim, J., Kim, S., & Nam, Chagi. (2016). Competitive dynamics in the Korean video platform market: traditional pay TV platforms vs. OTT platforms. Telematics and Informatics, (33), 711-721. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S073 658531500074X

This paper examines the competition between over-the-top [OTT] and pay-TV services in the South Korean market. In the context of the article, OTT services refer both to global video-sharing platforms (ex: YouTube) and Korean initiatives (ex: Pandora TV), while pay-TV services refer to Netflix-like platforms provided by traditional Korean TV content providers (ex: tving, pooq). Relying on survey data (n = 515), the authors assess the significance of this competition by using the niche theory as an analysis framework, and applying this theory to the measurement of two specific dimensions. The first dimension pertains to comparing the level of gratification obtained by respondents through OTT and pay-TV services. The second dimension looks into comparing the respective time spent by surveyed individuals on these two types of platforms. Overall, the study concludes that the competition between OTT and pay-TV platforms is not as severe as it is in the U.S., as these two services are seen as highly complementary by South Koreans, hence not evolving in the same niche. YouTube, however, distinguishes itself among all platforms by being the one that provides the most gratification. Though not focusing on Netflix (the American platform was not available in South Korea until recently), this article is pertinent to my research, as it shows that there might be enough space in the future for the coexistence of diverse modes of TV distribution, both global and local. Besides, the authors make a convincing point in exploring the impact of YouTube. It brings me to considering adding user-generated content platforms in the category of foreign OTT services that must be investigated.

Ganuza, J.J., & Viecens, M. F. (2014). Over-the-top content: Implications and best response strategies of traditional telecom operators. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 16 (1), 59-69. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/info-05-2014-0022

In this article, Ganuza & Viecens look into whether or not over-the-top [OTT] content represent a real cord-cutting threat for broadcasting distribution undertakings [BDUs] in Latin America. The expression “OTT services” is used in the article to describe any digital platform that provides online content without subscription requirement to a traditional TV distributor. After a brief literature review of studies having pursued similar objectives in the past, the authors draw a picture of pay-TV proposals, bundle offerings (with Internet and phone services) and distribution technologies (cable, Internet protocol television, phone lines) in Latin America. Then, based on a survey carried out with BDUs, the authors contend that there are currently few incentives for such companies to launch their own OTT services. In fact, limitations in terms of network coverage and broadband speed, not to mention the popularity of piracy, make Latin America a very hard market in which to implement successful OTT platforms. As such, foreign SVOD services like Netflix also struggle to increase their penetration rate in this part of the world. Ganuza & Viecens, therefore, conclude that the growing presence of online video shall not be conducive to large-scale cord-cutting in Latin America, both in the short and medium term. Additionally, the authors discuss the hotly contested issue of net neutrality, as OTT services monopolize bandwidth wherever they are located without contributing financially to the upkeep/upgrade of countries’ technological infrastructures.

Picard, R., Davis, C.H., Papandrea, F., & Park, S. (2016). Platform proliferation and its implications for domestic content policies. Telematics and Informatics, 33 (2), 683-692. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2015.06.018

This paper presents a comparative case study of broadcasting public policies in Australia, Canada, Ireland and South Korea in the face of increasingly popular digital content. These policies are analyzed by an international team of four researchers with regard to their efficiency in protecting national cultural identities and supporting local content production. The authors’ assumption is that the realization of these goals is made more difficult by transnational online content providers like Netflix that lessen the capacity of governments to enforce domestic media regulation. Following a review of the media market in the four countries under study, the researchers conclude that, in each of them, local content policies are ill-adapted to non-broadcast audiovisual content, and that not enough is done to ensure that foreign distribution platforms comply with nation’s cultural objectives. As such, there might be room for stronger regulation obliging external companies to finance a certain amount of domestic content.  As for local distributors of television, the authors contend that they need to improve the production value of their programs in order to compete against on-demand services that offer high quality dramas, mostly from the U.S. and the U.K. 

Sørensen, I.E. (2016). The revival of live TV: liveness in a multiplatform context. Media, Culture & Society, 38 (3), 381-399. doi: 10.1177/0163443715608260

This article analyses the ways traditional TV networks can adapt their broadcasting strategies to new media consumption habits (ex: the use of laptops, smart phones, and tablets), as well as to the increasing presence of digital video on demand [VOD] services. It is argued that the most fruitful strategy to respond to both of these trends consists of taking advantage of “liveness”, a distinguishing feature of TV broadcasters. More precisely, the author contends that TV networks can counter the competition of streaming services such as Netflix by making the broadcasting of live events on multiple platforms a core component of their identity. Her argument rests upon an analysis of how the BBC and Channel 4, two U.K. TV networks, successfully combined digital technologies and live coverage during the Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics. 

Steemers, J. (2016). International sales of U.K. television content: change and continuity in “the space in between” production and consumption. Television & New Media, 1-20. doi: 10.1177/1527476416653481

In this article, Steemers globally looks at how UK distributors of TV content are forced to reinvent themselves in the current media environment, characterized by digital platforms, transnational distribution rights and fragmented audiences. Of particular interest is the the author’s focus on Britain’s TV export performance in the face of digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Video. With supporting numbers, Steemers shows that international sales have become increasingly important to TV distributors revenues over the years, and that the presence of foreign over-the-top [OTT] platforms is no stranger to this phenomenon, as they represent new content buyers to which U.K. distributors can sell their programs. For this latter reason, the author thus observes, from interviews conducted with senior executives working for U.K. content providers, that the local reaction to transnational OTT services is far from hostile. On the downside, Steemers pinpoints many issues that particularly concern Netflix. She highlights the over dominant position of the American player in the digital video-on-demand market, the very little number of original British TV productions it funds, and its almost systematic refusal to yield secondary and international rights to local producers for the TV shows it acquires.  

 

 

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