Broadcasting policies in a digitized environment

Among the many topics I’m interested in researching are public policies with regard to television. It’s a safe bet to presume that the following years will be “rich” in this particular area of academic research.

The digital era, indeed, raises questions as to whether broadcasting regulation is compatible with an increasingly connected world, characterized by transnational media and overabundant quantities of content. In Canada, this interrogation is mostly voiced by broadcasting distribution undertakings [BDUs] that claim that they need the greatest flexibility possible to compete against foreign pure players. Within the specific realm of TV entertainment, these pure players can best be described as platforms that provide online content without requiring from the consumer a subscription to a traditional TV distributor: social networks like YouTube and Facebook that allow for the uploading of videos; set-top boxes like Apple TV or Roku, small devices that allow people to receive and decode digital content on their TV screen; streaming video-on-demand (or over-the-top [OTT]) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video; and platforms like iTunes (Apple) that allow customers to buy or rent downloaded digital content.

However, in Canada, the suitability of media regulation in a growingly digitized environment must also be weighed with another consideration: the safeguard of a strong national cultural identity. Global OTT platforms, to be sure, further increase the visibility of Anglo-Saxon cultural products to the detriment of local programs. Besides, deregulating as a means to enable domestic companies to counter foreign competition can result in negative cultural outcomes. The recent decision of the Canadian Radio-Television CRTC to overall reduce quotas of locally produced TV shows on Canadian channels is one patent example of this.

In addition to the future of broadcasting policies, I’m also intrigued by local media content producers’s response to foreign digital competition. To put it simply, how do they feel about Netflix and other platforms of the like? Are these only viewed as threats or are there any opportunities for them to seize ? How are they adapting to the new media ecosystem? Undeniably, looking at how media content producers in other countries deal with this matter can prove enlightening. Yet all comparisons have their limitations (after all, Canada is a very modest exporter of TV programs). As such, it’s not sure whether or not, for example, Netflix is seen as an interesting new buyer to which Canadian producers can sell their content.

In a next post, I shall present an annotated bibliography of academic publications about some of the themes developed in the hereby blog entry. It is my intention to « feed » this bibliography in the coming months, as I’ll stumble across other relevant articles.

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