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Online video the future -- but television won't die out, ACBI says

Malcolm Long, member of the Convergence Review, believes the communications landscape is changing due to changes in the way consumers access and produce video content.

Long, who is also chairman of the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI), told an ACBI conference yesterday video is a powerful social tool and is creating a cultural shift in the telecommunications industry.

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"[With] one-to-one communication -- telephony telecommunications -- we were much more interested in the connectivity than we were in the content. The content was private business and therefore beyond the spooks and the police and a few other people, there's never been any real regulation of content on one-to-one communication linkages and connectivity," he said.

"That's now all changed because it's not just the broadcasters who are carrying content. It is also the one-to-one linkages and that is a cultural shift for the telecommunications industry, and to some degree for the new media industry that people are finding quite difficult."

Long cited the example of Natalie Tran and her YouTube channel, which is one of the most watched channels on YouTube, as how consumer-created video is blurring the lines between professional video production, as seen on television, and video created by amateurs.

"The crossover between what's user generated and what's professional is collapsing. The problem we all have, and the Convergence Review had to face, was what does that mean for some of the expectations -- and they do have them -- the community has about the way powerful media is dealt with on platforms," Long said.

The final report in the Convergence Review [PDF] was released in April this year.

The review began in December 2010 as an attempt to examine the policy and regulatory frameworks that apply to the converged media, telecommunications and information technology industries in Australia.

It stated major foreign online media companies, such as Google and Facebook, nor contribute to an Australian content fund.

While there are no regulations around video content on the Internet, such as those television broadcasters have to adhere to, Long said the future of high bandwidth video is in making use of one-to-one connectivity which is delivered online and through terrestrial broadcast modes.

In a recent report by Cisco, it found there will be 7 million Internet video users (excluding mobile-only) in 2016, up from 4 million in 2011.

This increase of video content, however, will not mean the death of television, Long said.

"When you think about it, that system provides [files] in HD mode, very big files -- at a cost which is, to the consumer, capped once the transmitters are built," he said.

"One-to-one connectivity, which is online connectivity, is incrementally expensive every time you add a new consumer because you've got to add a new pipe ... So the pure efficiency of free-to-air television delivered terrestrially, once you have the infrastructure in place ... is something that's not going to disappear easily."

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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