Regulate TV Viewing

Broadcast Battle: Does the Australian Government Really Want To Regulate TV Viewing?

Crowd control. Ominous as it sounds, the Australian government’s plan to regulate what we see on our screens can be likened to George Orwellian concepts. You could even argue that the pollie’s push to control our TVs is, in a sense, a reach for mass mind manipulation. 

After all, what you watch – and what your brain consumes – has a massive influence on how you think, and as a result, how you behave. So is the government’s proposed promotion of free-to-air TV over paid subscriptions an attempt to control us? Surely, what you let into your living room should be your choice. Here’s why. 

Crowd Control: Should the Government Even Be Allowed to Enforce Viewing Regulations?

Arguably, the government’s drive to encourage us to consume more free-to-air TV is, in some ways, very beneficial to the Australian economy. This is especially true as the legislation plans to boost viewing of locally-based channels – namely the ABC, and SBS. 

But by filtering our media channels and directing us to view what they want us to see – isn’t this a perfect example of government gatekeeping? Of course, media legislation and how politicians enforce this is somewhat of a mystery to the common person. The only way to learn more about this is to complete studies on it – like a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy online, for example. 

Regardless of whether you choose to pursue higher education on the topic, however, it’s still important to understand what our rights as media consumers are. That way, we can make informed decisions about what we want to watch, and also, realise how vital it is to ensure that our prerogative to decide for ourselves remains in place. 

Smart TVs and Streaming Services: From Free-to-Air to Subscription – What are the Options?

When it comes to free-to-air TV, some would say that the viewing options are seriously limited. This is where subscription services provide more viewing variety to people who choose to pay for what they watch. Some examples of subscription viewing services – also known as ‘pay TV’ – include:

  • Netflix 
  • Stan 
  • Binge 
  • Disney+ 
  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime
  • Paramount+
  • YouTube TV
  • Foxtel

Paid subscription services such as these allow viewers more freedom in terms of what they watch, albeit, at a price. Indeed, with the cost of subscription services increasing, many viewers are finding that pay TV is no longer a cost that they can justify. Despite this, however, it is still our prerogative to be given the option, and conversely, not to have free-to-air TV quite literally forced upon us.

What You’re Letting into Your Living Room: Your TV, Your Choice – Surely?  

As ASTRA – the corporate body underpinning subscription media in Australia – would assert: “Don’t let the government control your TV!” 

The body argues that the government’s proposed legislation – known in official terms as the ‘Prominence Framework for Connected TV Devices’ – plans to limit our capacity for freedom of choice concerning our  TV viewing. The initiative will do this in several ways. First, free-to-air TV will be given precedence on our screens. That is to say, when we turn on our televisions, the option to access free-to-air channels will be in prime position and on centre stage in terms of our viewing options. 

This enforced spotlight on free-to-air channels will likely encourage viewers to select this option on their smart TVs as their first port of call, over their paid subscriptions. That is to say, we’ll be less likely to replace the media options pushed on us by the government, with our own preferences. The easier option, as it were, would be to passively accept the suggested viewing route. 

Of course, this can be both dangerous and detrimental to our liberties as independent media consumers. Some would argue that the measures to control our viewing are draconian and that the proposed media legislation will severely impinge on our civil freedoms. After all, what could be more personal than what you allow into your living room? 

When it comes to viewer discretion, ultimately, the freedom to choose what we are watching should be our prerogative. Nonetheless, Australian politicians seem to be bent on moving forward with this proposal – to the detriment of our freedom of choice. 

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