Perhaps dropping hints for Kevin Rudd, the CEO of Foxtel, Kim Williams, has floated the notion that one way to stimulate the economy would be to offer free subscriptions to newspapers and Foxtel. He has also taken a poke at Communication regulation.
He cites this as an example of where the Federal Government could invest in the actions of French President Sarkozy, who announced a $1.2 billion tax payer funded stimulus package for the French newspaper industry. The President decided to include a free annual newspaper subscription for every 18 year old.
“If only Foxtel- or our colleagues at News Limited and Fairfax – could be so lucky! Sounds as if in an environment of stimulus thinking, it is almost possible” he told a packed audience at the National Press Club today.
He said that “Today, media choices for consumers are richer and more multifaceted than ever and we are all exercising our preferences. Consequentially change is ever present; some media business models are shrinking whilst others are thriving. It is a normal part of social and commercial evolution – it is just happening rather more quickly than at any previous time”
He added “In a digitally attuned economy and broadcast landscape, if you are half heartedly responsive to consumers, you will fail. Period.”
In another stab at Government regulation he said “The current Broadcasting Services Act first received Parliamentary ascent in 1992. It has been the vehicle through which, in a limited way, the Australian Parliament has waded forth into digital media waters. But the changes in the digital economy have moved very much more rapidly than legislative change which is now entirely out of step”.
“The way that media companies will survive and prosper in the digital economy is not to seek ever increasing amounts of protection but rather to invest and innovate ensuring that we are providing Australian consumers with what they want. We need to listen attentively to their feedback so as to ensure that the process is shaped by a rich continuing interaction with consumers built on mutual understandings, respect and workable commercial principles”. He said.
Williams said “In Australia, subscription television is also driving digital take up and the truth is that terrestrial TV operators are participants but not leaders in the digital economy”
“Any future policy must not be built on the premise of terrestrial TV leadership. It must recognise that the leadership, innovation and major change has derived from the subscription sector and that subscription television has earned its place at the table as a core driver of digital thinking and futures”.
“The rise of the digital economy has, as we all realise, significant implications for legislation and regulation. Much of our media regulation has as its fundamental underpinning a pre-digital, analogue view of the world. It seeks to regulate on the assumption that there are discreet and separate media entities – broadcast television here, print there, radio over there, subscription in the back room and the internet in some basement zone. Governments, in principle, do recognise the need to renovate the settings”.