The root argument posed by this weeks BCM112 lecture, was the ideological battle between open-ended, rough-and-tumble ‘generative platforms’ (i.e Android), and their conservative, constricting, law-abiding, prim-and-proper neighbor: ‘locked devices’ (i.e iOS). So, I thought I’d better delve into this dynamic. While just an example, those two competing technological platforms show that in this day and age, the open platform will always prevail. Not dissimilar to Dennaton’s approach to distribution as I touched on earlier, but I feel there’s another great, timely example to demonstrate this ideological conflict: The war between legacy media and the internet’s advent of easy piracy. Inspired by the debut of Netflix, what I view as a middle ground, I’d like to expand on this topic of legacy media outstaying its welcome and closed systems feeling the hurt that we explored in this week’s BCM112 lecture.
FOXTEL CEO Richard Freudenstein stated, I’m assuming in an knowing, self-depreciating manner, that Netflix is “just here to make money” and have “no cultural investment in Australia.” While Foxtels prices have been cut in the lead up to the launch of Netflix, it’s still a minimum of $25 p/month with mandatory 12 month for a basic subscription subscription which does not include popular channels that screen Game of Thrones nor The Walking Dead, essentially the reason a lot of people turn to Foxtel. This is contrasted to Netflix’s minimum $9 month subscription with no cancellation fees and the ability to watch on multiple devices, in HD, with whatever show or movie in the burgeoning catalog tickles your fancy at that point in time. I like to think of Netflix as the middleground between pay TV and piracy; it’s the legal and convenient way to watch, whilst being affordable, and yet with still a limited catalog, not from a lack of Netflix’s trying. Telstra and News Corp. both own a 50% share in Foxtel and as explored in BCM110, they’re both conglomerates clinging to their outdated mediums, be it copper wiring or television respectively, and effectively stranglehold the rights to many popular shows. The morally ambiguous, ‘open’ alternative is of course streaming/torrenting or otherwise downloading these copyrighted shows via illegal means. This option provides free, high quality, and boundless options in viewing media that Foxtel, and Foxtel alone, more than likely has the legal right to be broadcasting. Naturally, this presents an issue for Foxtel, the lovechild of the two biggest and most influential media and broadcasting companies in Australia, who has to combat this convenient alternative to their overpriced and advertisement bloated service in some way, shape or form. Perhaps some kind of privacy demolishing, lavishly expensive, thinly veiled as ‘security’ measure, hilariously ineffective, Orwellian law would help keep those pesky pirates from straying from their service? Until then, middle-ground Netflix it is!