Could streaming force the ABC and SBS to merge | radioinfo

Could streaming force the ABC and SBS to merge

Wednesday 29 May, 2019

According to The Australian today, the ABC and SBS could be forced to merge as streaming services wreck the broadcast licence revenue that the government uses to fund public broadcasting.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley have highlighted the impact of streaming services on traditional media, stressing that revenue from radio and television has been declining ever since the rise of streaming services such as Stan and Netflix began getting audiences in Australian households.

The Australian says that fees, collected as a percentage of advertising revenue from radio and TV, that peaked in 2009 at $300 million, have been declining ever since, reflecting a decline in audiences.

Morgan Stanley point out that neither SBS of the ABC would necessarily be immune from the same audience decline, and may now come under increasing scrutiny as to whether their combined annual $1.3 billion taxpayer funding was required.

If licence revenue continued to decline the Government would either have to make cost-cuts, possibly merge the two broadcasters in order to reduce costs, or investigate getting licencing fees from streaming services to replace the licencing fees from radio and television.




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Anthony The Koala
30 May 2019 - 1:46pm
I wish to make one point about merging the ABC and SBS and licensing IP streaming service.

First, it's overdue that the two public broadcasters owned by all of us be merged. Talks of merging both broadcasters have been mooted in the 1980s with no action taken by the government. It makes sense that both broadcasters owned by us be under one roof what is the point of having two separate entities.

While SBS radio caters for 68 language groups, it certainly has maintained catering for many language groups since its inception in 1975 as 2EA and 3EA.

The same could not be said for SBS TV. When it commenced broadcasting in 1980, it transmitted mainly subtitled overseas content from mainly Europe and occasionally the Middle East and South America, but very rarely from our Asian neighbours. BUT it has FAILED to expand its coverage of programs sourced from Africa, India, The Middle East and South America.

While I may sound hypocritical, I do enjoy consuming program material from SBS tv. But most of the programming are English-language and could well be on the ABC: Insight, Dateline, Michael Portillo's train documentaries, the PBS Newshour, documentaries in general including Hollywood movies. That is to name a few. Then we have the 'Food Channel' though entertaining, could well be covered by Network 7's Food Channel. The NITV channel should be left alone, but could well move to the ABC.

There may well be a case for SBS's World News, with more focus on international news, and less focus on local news. Though it must be said that SBS is looking to having more multi-skilled journalist in other states in order source,

Nevertheless, with the exception of NITV, SBS tv appears to be lacking a multicultural focus and appears to be another version of ABC tv.

Second, on the issue of government licensing IP streams, the horse has bolted. How is the government going to licence streams sourced from other countries? One can buy a set-top box connected to the internet and obtain broadcasts from other countries, whether the streams are free of charge or by subscription. The government could well licence local radio streams and Foxtel and Stan.

But one of the ideas of broadcast licenses is that the electromagnetic spectrum is a 'scarce' resource. Compared to IP streams which can facilitate the broadcasting of many streams subject to the number of IP addresses, whether IPV4 or IPV6 (in the billions), cannot be said for potentially billions of channels in the electromagnetic spectrum for a particular broadcast zone. Instead a particular frequency for broadcast radio and tv can be reused in another location that is likely not to cause channel interference at another location.

In conclusion, the ABC and SBS could well be merged. In addition I have made my opinion on this site on how the ABC could save money without affecting program quality. However for the government to licence IP streaming may be complicated by streaming services being provided by overseas sources. It may be easier to 'tax'/licence local IP streams, BUT THEN the local IP streaming service may be at a competitive disadvantage especially for local subscription services compared to overseas services. For the FTA IP services, subject to number crunching, the broadcaster's economic model may want to abandon IP streaming. IP streams are international and any kind of blocking would be akin to censorship.

Anthony of downtown and exciting Belfield
Anthony The Koala
3 July 2019 - 5:09am
As at 02-07-2019, I withdraw a remark a little about the SBS TV's relevancy on the idea to merge the ABC and SBS. The reason is due to the launch of a new HD channel 32 "World Movies". Browsing through the electronic program guide, there is a variety of movies from China, India and Europe. It's the kind of programs that were a staple of the early days of SBS tv.

It reflects the diversity of movies from various nations. I would like to see if movies in the future emanate from Africa, South America and the Middle-East.

Although I consume programs on the other SBS channels such as Michael Portillo's train documentaries, I still hold that this program and other English-language-based programs such as "Insight" and "Dateline" could well be on the ABC. I don't see how relevant they are, especially the multicultural aspect of SBS, nor do I see the relevance of ch 33, "Food Channel". NITV could well be on either SBS or the ABC, so leave it alone.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield
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