SYDNEY — It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the Australian media landscape is in flux as never before. So great are the shifts taking place in technology, business and regulation that one commentator refers to the situation as “motion blur,” meaning that the minute an observer believes he or she has a fix on it, it changes again.
The Australian government is preparing to relax cross-media ownership laws so that proprietors can, for the first time, control a television station and a newspaper in the same city. Analysts predict that the resulting carve-up of media assets in 2006-07 could generate AUS$4 billion-AUS$14 billion ($3.1 billion-$10.8 billion) in transactions and significantly alter the playing field as new alliances are made and enemies sworn.
Meanwhile, technology continues to evolve and affect Australia’s traditional entertainment sector. By December 2004, 84% of the nation’s 20 million residents owned cell phones, translating to a handset for every person save for the very young and very old — and even those groups are starting to come around. There also were 1.55 million Australian broadband subscribers in December, a 122% year-on-year increase driven by a vicious price war led by dominant telco Telstra, which commands 41% of the broadband market.