Friday, April 27, 2012

The Issue of Media Content

Last year at a conference loads of people were talking about Pacific Fibre. A plan to introduce another link to the Internet to New Zealand - very importantly, one not controlled by Telecom. One of the things that came up was content. What would New Zealander's use it for? Think about it - we don't have great access to legal content in New Zealand.

Sky has a weird monopoly and aren't likely to open up their resources any time soon. TVNZ and TV3 both offer some streaming services but at terrible quality. Netflix (who are bringing back one of my favourite comedies for another season) isn't available in New Zealand yet. This is a familiar story.

Clare Curran, a New Zealand Labour Party politician, is drafting a private members bill to try and save TVNZ 7. TVNZ 7 is a non-profit, ad free, home grown channel which is getting it's funding pulled. I loved it when I was unemployed. Nowadays I find that it's very hard to find the things I want to watch. This is because it's owned by a commercial entity and so the programming is set to not compete with their own offerings. Still, I love it. There are some really interesting things on it.

The bit which I found interesting though was that the discussion on Clare Curren's blog. There was a comment about highbrow programming. As if being clever were a crime. Clever people shouldn't be taken into account when it comes to programming.

And if you watch television in New Zealand at the moment, this seems to be the general consensus. I find myself depressed at times in front of the television. Those really amazingly cool science programs of my youth, like Beakman's World, has been replaced by the constant "blowing stuff up" of Brainiacs (thankfully "Bang Goes The Theory" is in good taste if not sometimes over simplified). Jeopardy, Mastermind etc. have been replaced by Deal or No Deal (pick a number... go on... pick one) and Wheel of Fortune (pick a letter). And do I need mention "Knock Out"?!? Thursday nights are full of "reality" cop shows. It seems you can't turn on the tele without being bombarded by yet another over the rainbow "reality" tv show (I'm absolutely disgusted that NZ on Air funds are going towards "The GC").

I've been watching a lot of TED talks lately. Free online content. Legally available under a Creative Commons license. Where else do you go for informative television? And how do you know what it's legal? For example, The Open Source.TV looks promising but then, there's no notices about the licenses the content is released under and on the top right is a little Italian flag - click on it and a bunch of flags come up - these change the language. I'm not sure when the Italian flag came to mean English but there you go. Small things but they kind of mount up and have you wondering if it's really "open source".

There's a few bright lights in an otherwise dark world. The Yes Men released one of their "documentaries" - it's infotainment really - for free. This was done through a service called Vodo - a legal content p2p service. They've got quite a bit of content that looks worthwhile looking into. Oh - and brilliant for bucking the trend.

Anyone else got links to free legal, and hopefully, permissive (i.e. being able to download it to watch at your leisure rather than streaming) content?

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