BCM · Categories · Media, Audience, Place

Are you being regulated?

describe an instance of media regulation in action and explain to your readers what you think this regulatory effort has to do with ideas of space and place.

To answer the click-bait-y question hard and fast, yes, you are absolutely being regulated, in almost every way. Laws regulate how you behave and act just as much as they regulate what media you consume. There are an abundance of ways the media and laws regulate the general public’s media consumption. In particular to analyse why and how they do it I’d like to focus on geolocking content in alternative content services.

First of all, what is geolocking? Well according to DigitalWorldz, a UK based digital news site, geolocking is “…the practice of restricting content to connections from certain a country or countries. For example, the BBC restricts the majority of iPlayer content to connections from the UK.” Which I feel is a good description of the concept. However I think a mere description doesn’t do the concept justice. To unpack the concept more I’d like to look at how streaming services use geolocking for their benefit, in particular Netflix. Now most people know that Netflix is a pretty good source of content, albeit it has much less content than it’s US counterpart, Netflix Australia does have a lot of exclusive content to offer Australian customers. However, most don’t know that the reason for all of the geolocked content, that is, we can’t see the content that people in the US can, is because of business deals made between Netflix, Foxtel, and content production companies. This deal between media platforms and producers is one of mutual benefit, however it does not take into account the users, the consumers. One such deal is between HBO, the producers of the hit series, Game of Thrones, Foxtel and Netflix. Foxtel as a distribution platform would have asked HBO if they could buy the right to be the sole distributor of the Game of Thrones series in Australia, which, if accepted, would in turn mean that Netflix can not allow the Australian audience to watch Game of Thrones through it’s service.

Image credit: https://www.finder.com.au/game-of-thrones-season-6-cost
Image credit: https://www.finder.com.au/game-of-thrones-season-6-cost

 

Of course this makes sense on Foxtel’s end, ‘forcing’ (and I’ll explain why that’s in quotations in a bit) Australians to pay for and watch Game of Thrones through their service might bring new subscribers, and thus is well worth the cost of sole distribution rights. There is no question that this has some kind of benefit for Foxtel, however in doing so it does far more damage to many other parties. Netflix for example gets negative reviews for ‘denying’ Australians their usual content. This focus on Netflix is unwarranted and completely not their fault, however as seen in this article, they are in the headline as being the wrong-doers. “If you were holding out hopes that Foxtel’s mega sensation Game of Thrones would be joining Netflix’s content library we have bad news. It won’t be coming to Netflix anytime soon. Or ever.”

Not to mention the complete hassle and access barrier it creates for the Australian audience. If you don’t know what you’re doing with VPN’s (which even now are becoming harder to use effectively), you’re stuck with paying for Foxtel, which goes for around $46p/month if you want to get the drama package, which includes no sports channels. Not to mention a one off fee of $175 to set it up. Just to top it off, if you lived in the US? Netflix’s largest plan is $12 a month, no set up, no contract. Seems a bit unfair now you think about it.

 

References:

https://www.finder.com.au/game-of-thrones-not-moving-to-netflix-from-foxtel

https://www.foxtel.com.au/get/tv-combos/drama.html

 

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