The Media & Communications in Australia

By Stuart Cunningham; Graeme Turner | Go to book overview
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9
Telecommunications and
the new economy
Trevor Barr

Less than a decade ago, no major reference book in Australian media education carried chapters on telecommunications and the Internet. Institutional major media tended to be categorised in these terms: print as newspapers and magazines, television as the commercial networks, the ABC and SBS, then radio as commercial, public and community. Media education largely ignored matters relating to telecommunications—what did telephone companies have to do with studying the media? Computer systems and processes were then seen as the field of information technology and also as not really relevant to media studies.


STUDYING TELECOMMUNICATIONS WITH MEDIA

It is no longer possible to try to understand the role of media in society without an analysis of its relationship with other key segments of the communications environment. Major technological innovation has led to the blurring of the boundaries between media, information technology and telecommunications. Convergence has changed the boundaries of participation of the major institutional players. Historically, media companies generated the content and telecommunications companies were principally involved with carriage. So Channels Two, Seven, Nine, Ten and 28 produced their range of programs and Telstra transmitted them for broadcast across the nation—hence the term ‘carrier’. In recent years, however, these institutional boundaries between content and carriage have blurred.

To highlight these changes, we might look at some key examples of how Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunications company, has moved into content in recent years:

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