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Australia Considers Forcing Smart TVs To Pre-Install Apps From Legacy Media

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Australia is coming up with another radical idea that regards the media business, control over what kind of media content people are likely to see/see first, and inclusion of protectionism and favoritism of certain media in actual regulation.

The proposal is pretty comprehensive, as it is supposed to force smart TV manufacturers to have legacy media and state funded outlets’ apps pre-installed on the devices. This, observers say, would give such news outlets a clear advantage over most commercial ones – regardless of which content is more relevant or popular.

Critics are already comparing this as being in line with something one might expect from the excesses of real or fictional authoritarian regimes and surveillance states.

Given the Australian government’s track record on these and similar issues, which was laid bare during the pandemic, it’s unlikely that any such criticism will faze those behind the Prominence Framework for Connected TV Devices proposal.

The draft is the work of the Labor party (specifically the pro-censorship Communication Minister Michelle Rowland), and in addition to pre-installed apps, critics are warning that the regulation, if it passes, would include “manipulated search results for news stories.”

In Australia, this would boost broadcasters like ABC and SBS, as well as Nine and Seven, which are commercial, while other commercial media companies, for obvious reasons reporting about this in a very negative manner, mention that FreeTV lobbyists have their hand in promoting the plan.

And so it is from FreeTV that we learn how the thing would work, for example, in case of voice activated devices, and their owner searching for “news.” In that case, “the consumer must first be offered the local TV services that provide news content, with priority given to any such local TV services that the consumer has previously accessed,” FreeTV said.

So it’s not just about artificially pushing one type of media at the expense of others – but also about building up echo-chambers.

Labor’s explanation, meanwhile, states that the goal is to counter the effects streaming has on the industry by propping up free-to-air channels.

In many ways it looks like an attempt to fight against the “laws of nature” – i.e., more and more people in Australia turning to online subscriptions and internet-connected TVs, which comes as a natural result of the evolution of technology.

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