Our voices do matter: Communications Minister Fifield | radioinfo

Our voices do matter: Communications Minister Fifield

Tuesday 16 May, 2017

“Australian stories must be told and and our voices must be heard. Our voices do matter,” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told delegates at today’s ACMA Content Conversation conference in Sydney.

The Communications Minister talked about the economic benefits of broadcasting, film making and content creation, but also widened his comments to include other important measures of success. The measures of success include the promotion of Australian content and views around the world and strengthening Australian culture. 

“We must build on our existing strengths to continue to get international attention… we don’t want to imagine our children growing up without hearing Australian stories.” he said.

"I think we are all absolutely on the same page that having quality Australian content available... It strengthens our communities. It brings us closer together. So ensuring access to high quality Australian content must be, and is, an enduring Australian Government objective...

"An enduring and continuing Australian government commitment is that quality Australian content has an important place outside our borders. Our stories are sought out, they are relevant. There is a clear interest around the world in understanding our perspectives...

"Across the Communication and the Arts portfolio, digitisation is presenting both opportunities and challenges for the industry and also for we in government and the agencies we have who determine policy. We have heard a lot about the unprecedented change facing the industry. The actions that policy makers and regulators take now will have major consequences for the future direction of the industry... in the face of this digital disruption, it has also become glaringly apparent that Australia’s content regulation and policy framework has some gaping holes.... and that is one of the reasons why we are all here."

ACMA Chairman Richard Bean set the aims of the conference, saying:

We want a completely open conversation: we won’t be prosecuting any firm agenda—other than to foster vigorous debate... This is a conversation that we hope will bring out the complexity of the picture and also that will start drawing out some unifying ideas.

The communications landscape is almost unrecognisable compared to even ten years ago.

Developments in technology across creation, production and delivery platforms have transformed and are transforming how we make and consume audio-visual content.

Broadcasters continue to expand their range of content services offering catch-up TV, live streaming and content apps.

More and more content is available on subscription and pay on demand services.

And the amount and range of free online content of all kinds continues to expand exponentially.

Consumers, whose viewing habits were once determined by broadcast schedules, now determine for themselves when, where and how they watch, and are building their own content libraries...

But apart from change itself, another constant is surely the magic of a good story.

And whether it is told around a camp fire or viewed on a mobile phone, whether it is fact or fiction—the essence of a good story is not much changed: a plot and characters that hook us in and transport us to other times and places, that allow us to see things from other perspectives and broaden our horizons, that bind us together with shared experience. And—of course—keep us entertained.

And most will regard it as axiomatic that Australians should continue to tell, view and experience Australian stories...

Let me put some of the questions, the answers to some of which at least we’ll be thinking about over these next couple of days.

What exactly is Australian content and what do we want it to look like in the future?

Is it more important to have a quantity of Australian content or high quality Australian content or is the answer simply ‘both’?

Does ‘quality’ even matter if it gains an audience—and who gets to define ‘quality’ anyway? If somebody does, how should they do it?

If we can agree on the outcomes we want, can the market be trusted to deliver everything, or enough of everything, and if not, what interventions are necessary?

The conference continues over the next tow days.

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