Why TV networks may regret pushing for streaming quotas; and time to give Triple J's transmitters to Double J instead?
Welcome to a midweek edition of Unmade. Pinch, punch first of the month. Already ticked off one twelfth of your 2023 to-do list? Us neither.
As the news cycle spins up, we’ve been increasing our publishing frequency. We’re back at full pelt, including our podcasts, next week.
Meanwhile, the most urgent decision you face is whether to join us at our first conference: RE:Made - Retail Media Unmade. The earlybird discount ends this weekend, so you’ll need to buy tickets this week to lock in your 20% saving.
For retailers in the process of setting up their own retail media network, brands looking how to get the most out of the space, media owners reacting to this new challenge, or anyone already involved in this emerging ecosystem, RE:Made is the first time this whole community comes together in Australia.
TV networks have what they asked for. They may regret it
Living in a country with a national cultural policy is going to take some getting used to, after the arts vacuum of the last decade.
This week, Labor announced the new policy, which it calls Revive.
The 116-page document deserves closer reading.
The most substantial part of this policy is the new body Creative Australia, which will fall under the umbrella of the Australia Council. There will be new funding for music and writing.
And there will be new policies with direct impact on the media industry. One is a new Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces “to ensure creative workers are paid fairly and have safe workplaces free from harassment and discrimination”.
There’s a growing consensus that the advertising and media industry does worse than many others when it comes to harassment-free environments.
But most of the headlines have come around a commitment to introduce content quotas for the streamers.
That’s something of a victory for the incessant lobbying by the TV networks. But perhaps not quite the one they wanted.
The quotas are an obligation the TV broadcasters are already familiar with. In return for their (basically, free) access to public airwaves, they’re obliged to dedicate a certain percentage of their output to locally created content.
In recent years, they’ve successfully lobbied to reduce those obligations, particularly around children’s programming.
It was unfair, went a central part of their argument, that the networks face these obligations when the new streamers don’t.
However, rather than reducing the quotas even further for the networks, it looks like the government is going the other way - bringing them in for everyone.
There are practical issues here. With a broadcast network, it’s possible to stipulate the minimum percentage of content across each genre within set down times.
You can’t do that with a streamer which has a library. There’s no schedule to apply percentages to. Instead, it would most likely involve setting down obligations to spend a certain percentage of local subscription (and advertising?) revenues on local content.
That’s where it must be dawning on the TV networks that they’re in danger of being the dog that caught the car. The unintended consequence for the networks is that they will now be competing with the streamers even harder in the limited pool of skilled production people.
And depending how the rules are eventually structured, the streaming players may be about to receive a big new incentive to spend money on sports rights, when the next round of deals are done in five years time or so. That will drive up the price, particularly as the rationale for anti-siphoning rules applying only to broadcast television fades.
There’ll be a lot more to come on this one.
Also worth keeping an eye on, is the aside in the document about the government wanting a feasibility study to increase the reach of the ABC’s Double J. Double J is Triple J’s older sibling, available only on digital.
There’s a good argument that Triple J’s youth audience, such as it is, is the one that has already moved away from FM to digital. Double J would use the bandwidth far better. It would be a great move, albeit highly controversial.
If the government keeps to its timetable, it’s going to be an action packed few months in media and arts policy.
Unmade Index - end of the rally
With speculation that the global share market rally is about to run out of steam, the same went for The Unmade Index yesterday.
After five sessions of growth, the Unmade Index of ASX-listed media and marketing companies dropped by 0.91% to 681.9 points. The wider ASX All Ords dipped by 0.19%.
However, The Unmade Index is still well ahead of the 655-points it sat at when the run began a week ago.
Outdoor company Ooh Media was the only large media stock to buck the trend yesterday, rising by 0.7%, although its market cap still languishes well below $1bn.
Audio player HT&E, owner of ARN, saw the biggest fall with a drop of 3.03%.
Results season is already underway, with online survey and research house Pureprofile kicking off matters this week with, quarterly profits down despite a growth in revenue. The company revealed a record high quarterly revenue of $12.8m, up from $10.6m in the previous quarter. However quarterly EBITDA profits fell slightly from $1.4m to $1.2m.
The Pureprofile update also revealed that revenue in Australia had dropped by 14% “due to macro conditions affecting advertising markets”.
Time to let you go about your day. We’ll be back with more later in the week.
One final, gentle reminder: If you’re keen to understand why everyone’s talking about retail media, now’s the time to get your ticket to RE:Made. Earlybird tickets are only $236. Which ain’t hardly anything.
Have a great day.
Tim Burrowes - Unmade
Hi Tim, I don't think the comments of one individual four years ago, although extremely eminent, should be considered to override the consistently stated views of the united industry through its peak body in response to formal Government consultation papers and in various media outlets for the past three years. The first time SVOD quotas were proposed as potential Government policy was in the Media Reform Green Paper in late 2020. Free TV's submission in response said "Free TV does not support the Green Paper’s proposal that a formal investment obligation be imposed on SVODs and AVODs to invest a percentage of their Australian revenue in Australian content." and we went on to point out the many unintended consequences of SVOD quotas and implications for commercial television broadcasters. Always happy to chat as this issue unfolds, best regards Bridget
Hi Tim, sorry to ruin your headline but it is a totally incorrect. FreeTV and its members have never pushed for streaming quotas and in fact are consistently on the record as opposing them.