5 Mins With Maria Jakovljevic – Opportunities and Obstacles for Interactive TV in Australia

We have a special guest with us from the University of Melbourne – Maria Jakovljevic, a Ph.D candidate of the Culture and Communication Program conducting research on ‘Interactive Digital Television (ITV) – Impact on the Australian Television Industry’.

Maria, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your project. Tell us more about your research and what you hope to discover?

The research starts with a recapitulation of Australian TV history and draw parallels between the development of the industry and current interactive initiatives. The core of the research is an online survey analysis of different opinions regarding ITV development.

The project looks at institutional structure and economic model of ITV in Australia which will be valuable for future audience research. The EU has led the way in the innovation of digital and ITV in the world. One of the research aims is to compare EU ITV experiences with the potential for interactive television in Australia. ITV development is driven by revenue of interactive advertising and so the research will analyse interactive TV activities of key advertising agencies in Australia.

First, the research intends to contribute and broaden knowledge about ITV in Australia. It also aims to develop deeper understanding of the way how interactive media providers think about concept of ITV, potential ITV applications, and the information on which they base their concepts.

Second, this study aims to raise attention on how advertising agencies perceive interactivity via television and what are advantages and disadvantages of interactive TV advertisements. Also research intends to play a part in development of correct strategies for ITV by providing a more objective and realistic viewpoint on the opportunities and obstacles for ITV in Australia.

This is an interesting field of study, why did you choose to research this topic? What about ITV interests you?

I like TV, but I am not particulary happy with public TV at the moment. In general, we should do something about TV content, policies, major players, new interactive services etc. I would change many things. My Master thesis was about ITV as well. I am interested about ITV commercial structure, regulatory framework and cultural experiences.

What are your thoughts about the future of Interactive TV and its impact on Australian Television?

This is very big question! So far, despite the fact that television in Australia has rapidly grown since its inceptions and has brought many changes in the social and cultural life of ordinary Australians, the industry has been relatively unaltered in the past five decades. The role of the players, broadcasting content, business models have been stable and even resistant to major changes. Digital television has the potential to dramatically change the Australian television landscape and the introduction of ITV is tightly related to it’s full penetration. However, I need to quote ITV Research Institute at Murdoch University Committee Inquiry report (2005):

‘Australia’s digital TV rollout cultivates an environment where the only ‘clear’ is associate with preservation of the status-quo. Apparently, the policy framework is effectively designed to migrate the existing paradigm of television – complete with its existing value chain and players – across to digital with minimal disruptions. This approach fails to capitalize on the many advantages that digital provides. Secondly there is a less incentive for consumers to adapt – significantly delaying the analog shut off. Thirdly, it fails to stimulate market adaptation in the television sector – which will be crucial to preserving Australia’s capacity to maintain strong cultural industries going into the future’.

Is to assume that no matter what are the audience’s interests and what are industry’s perspectives, policy makers and main players in private and public sectors have the key roles in allocation, implementation of resources and shaping market dynamics.

With apparently status-quo situation and without many opportunities for new players where is motivation for new services? Has legislative framework acted to delay introduction of interactive services? What are desirable regulatory structures regarding ITV content, standards, provisional access and carriage?

The answers to these questions will be presented in the data from my survey.

Those are great questions and we look forward to the results of your survey. Do you have any final thoughts about the future of interactive television?

In general, penetration of ITV is related to business repositioning (for example, the rise of vertical model of media ownership and partnering), the growing awareness and take up of digital TV, development of interactive advertising, collaboration or bundling of industries (for example, BT package includes deal with ITV Digital and Sky. Ntl provides a bundling of telephony, internet and TV on cable) and in UK case for example ‘light touch regulations and heavy touch on social policy’.

Thanks again Maria.