Media in Australia

Media in Australia: Video Games

The readings this week discussed the history of gaming, a medium that until recent years has been misunderstood by those who don’t consider themselves gamers. The latter half of the first decade of the twenty-first century saw a dramatic shift in the demographics of people playing video games. In Games and Gaming: An Introduction to New Media, Hjorth believes that three of the most influential trends in this new era of gaming were Nintendo’s Wii console, Apple’s iPhone and games on SNS (Social Networking Sites) such as Facebook. The Wii, which launched in 2006, led to those outside of the stereotyped demographic (young males) to play video games. Wii Sports, bundled with the system, became popular with parents, grandparents and others who had never had any previous desire to play video games (Hjorth, L 2011, pp. 127). Mobile gaming took off when the iPhone launched in 2007 and brought with it the App Store, a digital shop that sells applications for the devices. In The Media & Communications in Australia, Hjorth notes that by the end of 2008, more than half the applications sold on the store were video games (2010, pp. 264).

These “casual” games such as Wii Sports and Angry Birds are doing so well are because of their simplicity. Video game critic Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw notes that for a first-time gamer, playing a video game intended for established long time gamers can be “disorienting” (2010). iPhone games in particular usually require simply tapping the screen, which is a lot easier compared to ten buttons on today’s video game controllers.

References

Hjorth, L (2011), Games and Gaming: An Introduction to New Media, Berg Publishers, Oxford.

Hjorth, L. (2010), Chapter 15, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Crowshaw, B 2010, Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Escapist, viewed 29 October 2012, < http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/7856-Super-Mario-Galaxy-2.2>.

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 30 OCTOBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the final of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The links to the other nine can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/

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Media in Australia: Popular Music

Today’s music and associated industries are facing a number of challenges due to the changes in technology and behaviours of music fans. In The Media & Communications in Australia, Shane Homan discusses the ongoing battle for copyright and revenue, which turned quite ugly in 2002 when heavy metal band Metallica and the Recording Industry Association of America took successful legal action against file-sharing service Napster that year (2010, pp. 224). The two plaintiffs argued that downloading breaches copyright protection for music, and leads to a loss of revenue. (2010, pp. 225).

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in September 2012 that Australians “download music illegally more frequently, by head of population, than any other country”, making Australians the world leaders in illegal music downloads (Zuel, B 2012). Despite this, Australians also pay for digital downloads and also buy records in a physical format “at a rate which surprises the industry worldwide”. This seems to indicate that Australia are one of the biggest music consumers in the world and will do whatever it takes to obtain the music they want, whether legally or illegally. With digital music sales up 37% to last year, perhaps the Australian music industry isn’t in such a bad state after all.

References

Homan, S. (2010), Chapter 13, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Zuel, B 2012, ‘Australians world’s worst for illegal music downloads’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September, viewed 28 October 2012, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/australians-worlds-worst-for-illegal-music-downloads-20120918-2643a.html>.

 

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 29 OCTOBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the ninth of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next  two will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/

Media in Australia: Mobile Communications and Culture

Kath Albury and Kate Crawford’s article ‘Sexting, Consent & Young People’s Ethics: Beyond Megan’s Story’ (2012), discusses issues raised by the Megan’s Story video and the issues it ignores. The video depicts a teenage girl named Megan leaving the girls toilet, who then sends a “sext” of herself with her mobile phone to a boy in her class. A sext refers to sexually explicit messages, photos or videos, usually sent between mobile phones. While in class, Megan realises that the image is being forwarded to other members of the class. They react by glaring at her, insulting her and passing her a piece of paper with an offensive note. While this is happening, we see shots of her becoming more and more worried and distressed. After her teacher receives the sext and looks at her with disappointment, she becomes overwhelmed with distress and leaves the classroom (ThinkUKnowAUS 2010). The message of the video is to be careful of what you send to other people as you never know what they will do with it. However, as Albury and Crawford’s article states, the video doesn’t make a single mention of the legal implications that face Megan and her classmates (2012, pp. 465).

Albury and Crawford believe that the video as a warning could be better if it made note of the criminal charges all the characters could face. Megan could be charged with “production and distribution of child pornography”. The boy who forwarded Megan’s sext faces the same potential charge, as will all the others in the classroom who forwarded the sext. Then there’s the teacher, who would be “charged with the possession of child pornography”. Albury and Crawford’s point is that Megan’s Story “fails to engage with the serious legal penalties facing young people who are charged for sexting, and the double role imposed on them as both criminals and vulnerable subjects.” (2012, pp. 466). While the classmates and the teacher would be offenders, Megan would be both a victim and an offender.

Liberty Victoria has made a submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Sexting. In their submission, the civil liberties organisation questions the adequacy of existing laws. For example, under current laws, Megan, her classmates and her teacher could be criminally charged with a sexual offence and placed on a sex offenders register. Liberty Victoria believes this is too harsh for sexting, and it lowers the value of the register as a database of offenders posing a real risk to the community (Liberty Victoria 2012, pp. 2). Compared to a real sex offender who commits rape or sexual violence, Megan, her classmates and her teacher don’t pose a significant danger to the public.

References

Albury, K., Crawford, K., (2012) ‘Sexting, Consent & Young People’s Ethics: Beyond Megan’s Story’, Continuum, 26 (3), pp. 463-473.

ThinkUKnowAUS, 2010, Megan’s Story, 6 September, viewed 5 October 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwKgg35YbC4>.

Inquiry into Sexting 2012, Liberty Victoria, viewed 5 October 2012, <http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/lawrefrom/isexting/subs/S28_-_Liberty_Victoria.pdf>.

 

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 5 OCTOBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the eighth of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next  two will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/

Media in Australia: Telecommunications and Broadband

The National Broadband Network (NBN) has been polarising Australians since the project was announced. The expensive infrastructure committed by the Rudd Government elected in late 2007 was, according to Jock Given, an answer to Australia becoming a “broadband backwater” (2010, pp. 109). This means that there aren’t a lot of good things to say about Australia’s current broadband services when compared to other nations. Compared to other countries, Australia’s broadband is slower and pricier, but despite this, there has been plenty of debate on whether the country wants or needs the NBN.

In her journal article, Melissa Gregg talks about one of the first locations in the country to have access to the NBN, in Willunga, South Australia. There was enthusiasm about the project in the rural town, allowing Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to help sell the NBN to the community (2012, pp. 147). There has also been less enthusiastic view, with some in the town believing that the NBN only exists to download media faster (2012, pp. 154). Not everyone agrees that it’s money well spent.

Stephen Long reported “if everything goes to plan, by 2020 some 93 per cent of Australia’s homes and businesses will be linked to a fast, high-capacity broadband network by fibre-optic cable” (ABC, 2011). Long notes that while we don’t know the future, the NBN is upgradable, so it will be ready for whatever broadband speeds are needed for years to come. This makes the NBN a long-term, expensive investment that will pay off once it’s completed.

References

Given, J. (2010), Chapter 6, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Gregg, M. (2012) ‘History in the Making: The NBN Rollout in Willunga, South Australia’, Media International Australia, 143, pp. 146-158.

National Broadband Network, 2011, ABC, viewed 1 October 2012, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/national-broadband-network/>.

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2 OCTOBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the seventh of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next  three will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/

Media in Australia: Film, DVD and Online Delivery

Australian films have struggled to make an impact, even in Australia. Data by Screen Australia (beginning in 1977) shows that it has been rare for Australian films to reach at least 10% of the box-office earnings in any year in Australia (Screen Australia, 2011). In fact, 1994 was the last time this occurred.

In the current landscape, it seems clear that the perception, according to Verhoeven, is that “Australian films make for poor business” (2010, pp. 148). Verhoeven doesn’t necessarily agree with this perception, although he does believe that this perception comes from the idea that “Australians aren’t particularly interested in watching Australian films at the cinema”. He points out that while the 2007 Australian film Gabriel had a moderate box-office success, in 2008, the film was the second highest selling Australian DVD (2010, pp. 149). Hollywood makes big-budget films, and so Australians may only feel they are getting their money’s worth at the cinemas if they see a big blockbuster. Australian films on the other hand, are typically produced on a low budget, and may not be highly regarded by members of the public who regularly go to the cinemas. Big budget means a big film, and a reason to go to the cinema is to watch a big film on the big screen. Australian films produced on a small scale seem to resonate better with customers on the small screen, explaining their success on DVD.

References

Verhoeven, D. (2010), Chapter 8, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Share of the Australian box office for Australian feature films, 1997-2011, 2011, Screen Australia, viewed 27 September 2012 <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/australianshare.asp>.

 

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2 OCTOBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the sixth of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next  four will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/

Media in Australia: Television

This week’s reading focused on television and its history. While remaining the most used media form in this country, Flew and Harrington (2010, pp. 157) wrote in The Media & Communications in Australia that the 14-25 age group’s use of the internet may change the TV set’s popularity in the household (Flew, T and Harrington, S, 2010, pp. 157).

The television industry will have to face and embrace the concept of convergence. Convergence is defined in the Dictionary of Media and Communication as the “merging of formally discrete communications technologies/media” (Chandler and Munday, 2011, pp. 77), meaning that the internet is helping to extend the ways that television can be consumed. From the findings of their report, Convergence 2011: Australian Content State of Play, Screen Australia believes that convergence is “reshaping the Australian media landscape, with new technologies growing in influence and providing audiences with more choice than ever before” (Screen Australia, 2011). Convergence is the biggest change that TV faces, with the introduction of 3G mobile internet and digital media technologies such as internet television and online video. These changes are significant because television ratings are affected by consumers watching content online, either legally or illegally.  This means consumers are watching their favourite programs the way they want and when they want, rather than when the broadcasters want them to. Flew and Harrington (2010) believe that for television these new technologies have “rapidly become an important, if not central, issue for the industry”.

Despite the fact that high-speed broadband is speeding the process of convergence, Screen Australia’s report shows that television is still the “leading way of viewing screen content”, with 96% of people still viewing television and participation in free-to-air-channels is actually up 14% (2011).  While it may appear that television is declining, these statistics suggest that television will be still be around for a long time, although maybe not in its current form.

References

Flew, T., & Harrington, S. (2010), Chapter 9, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Chandler, D & Munday, R, 2011, Dictionary of Media and Communication, Oxford University Press Inc., New York.

Convergence 2011: Australian Content State of Play, 2011, Screen Australia, viewed 7th September 2012, < http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/convergence_stateofplay.aspx>.

 

 

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 7 SEPTEMBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the fifth of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next  seven will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/

Media in Australia: Radio

This week’s readings talked about the development of radio. Griffen-Foley (2010) discussed in The Media & Communications in Australia the challenges that were facing radio (Griffen-Foley, B, 2010, pp. 82-112). There were legislative changes in 1986 and 1987 that had created restrictions on owning different media types (newspaper, radio and television), which allowed radio to slightly grow (Griffen-Foley, 2010, pp. 119). In 1988, the Hawke government introduced the National Radio Plan to try to improve the reach of radio. However, the radio industry was put in debt in 1990-91 which led to new stations to take the place of others (Griffen-Foley, 2010, pp. 120).

Early on in the radio’s existence in the 1930s, Johnson (1988, pp. 89) describes the marketing campaigns to expand the number of households that had radios in them (Johnson, L. 1988, pp. 82-112). Advertising focused on presenting the radio creating happiness for a nuclear family. It wasn’t that simple however as often stories circulated of family disagreements about which program to listen to. This was exploited by trying to convince consumers to have more than one radio in the house (Johnson, 1988, pp. 93). All this led to radio taking over traditional family rituals. Before radio, families “gathered around the piano, played cards, or read stories to one another”.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation website (2010) notes that digital radio and the internet has so far supplemented analogue radio services in this country. This is different to television, with the analogue signal soon being switched off in favour of being replaced by digital. Radio has somehow survived in contrast to the decline of the press and television.

 

References

Griffen-Foley, B. (2010), Chapter 7, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Johnson, L. (1988) ‘The Everyday Ordinary’ & ‘What Women Have to Listen To’, in The Unseen Voice: A Cultural Study of Early Australian Radio, London: Routledge, pp. 82-112.

Radio in Australia, 2010, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 3 September 2012, <http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/radio-in-australia>.

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 4 SEPTEMBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]

This is the fourth of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next  seven will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/