Vox Pop: World Television Day
Feature

Vox Pop: World Television Day

By Rhys Evans

Tuesday 21st November marked World Television Day, celebrating the importance of television and its role in shaping a diverse global culture. Telum Media asked the following question to industry professionals:
How does television stay relevant with the rising influence and popularity of streaming services? What potential implications might this have on journalism and storytelling?

Troy Nankervis, Producer at Studio 10 and The Project
Live TV news and current affairs programmes link audiences with the issues that impact them, alongside providing important context and greater detail on the key stories of the day. Daily news programmes in particular continue to play a very important role in this exchange.

While the ways in which people access information and entertainment continue to evolve, I don't see the medium disappearing any time soon. Having also worked for many broadcast, social, and digital teams, I believe every platform holds merit and plays its own role in the media landscape. I'm also yet to see a news service in Australia, on a streaming platform, that carries the same level of trust and reliance that audiences place on the more traditional platforms.

That said, free-to-air television ultimately cannot ignore these changes, and I think down the line we’ll need a greater amount of integration, much like how social and digital mediums are important pillars within the content strategies of large media organisations.

Bridget McManus, Freelance Writer covering TV Entertainment
I believe that there will always be a market and indeed a need for local entertainment and news that reflects and represents its audience, and addresses its specific issues. Unless streaming services are able to incorporate this service on a local level, it will remain the responsibility and domain of network television. Of course, that doesn't mean television content need be parochial or dull, nor lesser in quality, budget restraints notwithstanding. 

The importance of a national, government-funded broadcaster as an independent, uncompromised voice cannot be underestimated. As anyone who has grown tired of the streaming browse well knows, sometimes it's a comfort to just turn on the telly, and let the programmers do the curating. There is a sense of community in watching what so many others are, in real time. 

If the ratings system continues to evolve to reflect digital audiences, advertising remains on a generally upward trajectory creatively, and programmers keep abreast of viewer expectations and desires, then surely network television will be around for some time yet.

Aaron Ryan, Founder of TV Central 
Television can remain relevant by producing original high-quality content across all genres. Australian television remains relevant to local audiences, with government quotas demanding that 55 percent of content remain local. Exclusive free-to-air content continues to attract viewers who prefer traditional channels to streaming. Due to the anti-siphoning list, television remains appointment viewing for all major sporting events, including AFL, NRL, and the Olympic Games.

News remains a crucial platform for news broadcasting, with free-to-air remaining a loyal and trusted service for viewers. With the integration of smart TV's, television remains relevant to both traditional users of television and those that prefer a streaming type interface.

The proliferation of streaming options as a source for newsgathering and storytelling has led to increased competition, audience fragmentation, and new opportunities for creative expression. Streaming and social media have allowed audiences to question news that is reported, discuss, offer opinions, and in some cases, reject what they have seen / heard and engage an audience from a different platform with the opposite point-of-view or opinion.

Streaming platforms also have the ability to reach a global audience whereas, television reaches only those that can access it within Australia. There is now increased competition to create unique and engaging content, challenging traditional television networks to invest further in journalism to create a point of difference. By focusing on areas where it can still offer unique value, television can remain relevant.

Alexandra Wake, Associate Professor of Journalism at RMIT University
Streaming has been sucking the lifeblood out of legacy television for some time, although it is the most popular way of accessing news in Australia. Streaming means that there are increasing numbers of people, particularly millennials and Gen Z, who simply don't ever see the news, not even important news updates during emergencies.

There are huge implications for democracy because these young people only get news through influencers, not professional journalists. People need to know what's going on to fulfil their role in civil society, for example, vote in elections and referendums. But also to know what is going on in the world at large, such as understanding some of the drivers of the cost of living crisis.

Journalism and journalists can't solve this on their own. It's a problem for society at large. Instilling our young people with a desire and need to access news is a good starting point, but it needs a whole community response.

Carolyn Hiblen, Editor-in-Chief of FOXTEL magazine
Streamers may be big business these days, but cable TV was breaking boundaries and dominating the landscape long before - and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. HBO, which airs exclusively on FOXTEL in Australia, continues to set the benchmark for our viewing habits, and from big-budget fantasy (Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon) to ripped-from-the-headlines dramatisations (The Staircase, Love and Death), all-star escapism (The White Lotus), and high-stakes familial drama (Succession), not only does it have every corner of the market covered, but it continues to dominate every awards season. 

In an age of instant gratification, where its rivals, for the most part, satiate our appetites by dropping all episodes at once, only to be quickly forgotten. HBO has maintained its core value of appointment viewing for its tentpole series. It’s a tried and true format and while it can prove agonising at times, it is a total power move that few could pull off. 

On a local front, the Foxtel Group’s ongoing investment in Original Australian stories is second to none and the resounding reception to recent series such as The Twelve, Colin from Accounts, and Love Me has proved there is an appetite for authentic Aussie voices on our screens. Thankfully, there are plenty more to come. We truly are in the golden age of television and with so many A-list actors, directors, and producers flocking to the small screen, as a journalist, it couldn’t be a more exciting time to be in the industry. 

Jayden Forster, Entertainment Reporter
The rise of popularity in streaming services undoubtedly poses a threat to broadcast media, but the one thing free-to-air TV has going for it is the ability to reach a really large and diverse audience simultaneously in real time and for no subscription fee. People will always turn to TV as their source of news, light entertainment, and live events in sports and showbiz if the product is available. 

While this may be a distant reality in the current and future economic climate, I believe our TV networks need to continue to invest heavily in news and current affairs to have the power and opportunity to provide audiences with the best product possible. People will always turn to streaming content, but we are still seeing strong numbers for our locally produced programs, both through direct and on-demand viewing. 

Budgets are being cut across the board, but these organisations need to continue to invest in local news and storytelling, at every cost. The big issue is money, as it always is. Any future increases in the popularity of streaming services could pose an impact on the way these local organisations think about and allocate funding for programming, but I don't (at this stage) forecast any immediate implications for local journalism and storytelling as a whole.

All the free-to-air networks have catch-up or on-demand apps that allow people to watch their content, news / current affairs and entertainment, and I strongly believe this is the key to both attracting and maintaining viewers' interest in broadcast TV. Viewing habits have changed, but the programmes people are watching have remained the same. 

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Telum Media

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Journalists
Bridget McManus

Freelance Writer

Carolyn Hiblen

Freelance Writer / Editor

Troy Nankervis

Journalist

Alexandra Wake

Aaron Ryan

Owner / Editor

Jayden Forster

Freelance Entertainment Reporter

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