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Is pay TV meeting its promise?

McCutcheon, Marion (2006) Is pay TV meeting its promise? PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The broadcasting sector is a subject of continual debate in modern society. One of the oldest segments of the rapidly-evolving information technology and communications industry, it is still the most content rich and the most popular. Australians who watch television spend more time doing so than doing any other leisure activity - except those who fish (ABS 1998). Broadcasting is highly pervasive. Some kind of service is available and used in every Australian household. Everyone is an expert, everyone has an opinion. Since the Federal Government decided to allow the introduction of domestic subscription television in 1992, pay television has been broadly dismissed by its media rivals as being unpopular, unprofitable and unnecessary. In turn, the Australian pay television industry considers that it is over-regulated, especially compared to the free-to-air sector, and that much of this regulation severely constrains its ability to grow its subscriber base. This thesis examines whether the Australian subscription television industry has achieved the aims set for it by the legislators in 1992 - that is, whether it has 'met its promise'. To achieve this, the thesis first identifies the 'promises' of an Australian subscription television industry. In assessing whether the industry has met its promise, the thesis considers various aspects of the industry, including what the industry has needed to do to make itself profitable and ensure its longevity and the environment within which the industry operates. The thesis examines the role that content plays in attracting subscribers and considers whether minimal content regulation has resulted in a paucity of local content on subscription television in Australia. The thesis draws on existing academic literature, government publications, information released by the subscription television industry itself and interviews conducted in the course of the project with the Australian subscription television sector. It also uses and builds on ratings data to examine the programs and channels that are offered by Australian pay television services. In concluding, this thesis makes an assessment of whether the Australian pay television industry has met its promise.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Supervisor(s): Broderick, Mick and McHoul, Alec
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