TV hoping to learn from music's mistakes on piracy

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 26 June 2015
Online downloading sites such as PirateBay tend to attract keenly sought-after younger demographics.

The TV industry has had the luxury of sitting back as disruption ravaged other media outlets, and the industry is hoping to learn from the mistakes of the music industry in particular.

Speaking with AdNews, subscription TV peak body ASTRA's CEO Andrew Maiden said the music industry's response to piracy had been too reactive.

“I think the disruption of the TV industry has come a few years later than other industries like music, and that gave us as an industry [time] to sit back and look at what happened to music in particular and what they did right and wrong,” Maiden said.

“I think the music industry now would not solely focus on shutting down illegal sources of content such as Napster, but rather create legal sources faster and cheaper.”

He was speaking days after the passing of legislation that would allow content creators and licensees to apply to have websites shut down.

Under the new legislation passed on Monday, rights holders would need the ascent of a federal court judge before ISPs such as Optus or Telstra would need to comply with the order and disable access to the IP address of the website in question.

While ASTRA lobbied for the legislation to be passed, Maiden said that it could not be the industry's only play against piracy.

“The TV certainly responded more quickly than the music industry did in past years. In comparison to music, we were making legal sources of content more available pretty quickly,” Maiden said.

“I think the domestic industry has adapted to that by joining the shift rather than resisting it.”

Meanwhile, in the past the TV industry may have viewed the advent of high-speed internet as a threat to its broadcast model, but Maiden said the industry now welcomes it with open arms as it seeks to innovate with IP-delivered content models.

While he would not be drawn on whether he thought the rollout of the NBN is occurring too slowly, he said for current needs the speed was good enough.

“The TV industry will welcome the NBN with open arms because fatter pipes mean a better experience,” Maiden said.

“We back the NBN and look forward to its rollout as quickly as possible, but at the moment we have broadband speeds that are adequate, especially in cities, to stream content and even HD content.

“But the opportunity is in 4K content as that rolls out.”

ASTRA is holding the 2015 ASTRA Conference in Sydney in September, where speakers from several networks will talk on how they have dealt with disruption in the industry.

Those speaking include Robert Bakish, president & CEO of Viacom International Media Networks; Dr Michael Gunton, creative director from BBC World & BBC; Hernan Lopez, president & CEO of Fox International; and Christina Miller, president & general Manager, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang.

In attendance will also be Bill Morrow, CEO of NBN.

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