Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Digital Broadcast | Narrowcasting Australia Style

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia has learned that Australia is now taking the role of "narrowcasting" or "broadcasting to a 'niche' audience, to a proactive level. A consultative process is to define the legal framework and to whom are these services targeted. Submissions are required by March 9.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is seeking comments on its proposed guidelines under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

The ACMA takes the position that Narrowcast television has significant potential to offer Australian audiences a broader choice of digital niche television programming.

Clearly, narrowcasting has a more targeted audience than a commercial broadcasting service.

The ACMA defines the services as:

* by being targeted to special interest groups; or * by being intended only for limited locations, for example, arenas or business premises; or * by being provided during a limited period or to cover a special event; or * because they provide programs which are of limited appeal; or for some other reason.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News says this sounds like history repeating itself. The term narrowcasting was first used with the advent of cable TV in Europe and North America when ethnic oriented programming to targeted groups came into its own. Those cable narrowcasts were the first real "segmentized" programming since the start of general programming on terrestrial TV stations and networks. In the digital era so much more diversity in delivery methods and distribution platforms make the narrowcasting projects so much more interesting and diverse.

Australia is also an interesting example because the low population density made cable TV overall a non starter. Today broadband and other digital delivery systems (mobile hand helds DVB-H etc) overcome the high bandwidth distribution cost posed by the Cable TV systems hardware previously.

If carried through this is another growing opportunity for suppliers of digital products and services.


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