The way that Australian film content is distributed has changed to new digital distribution methods, which means that Australian audiences are more easily able to access content from around the globe. This exposes them to a diversity of global cultures which entice viewers to continue watching non-Australian films. It can be argued that the Fair Trade Agreement has an element of protectionism on one side or an offer of free flow content on the other. The impact of distribution and the digital age has a huge impact on how Australians are viewing global films that have cultural diversity, rather than Australian content films.
The Fair Trade Agreement aims to “remove constraints on the free flow of trade between the US and Australia by advocating free market integration as the best means to enhance social and economic development” (Breen M, 2010). The Fair Trade Agreement impacts the flow of cultural products directly which enhanced the information and communications technology between Australia and the US, leading to the creation of ‘digital determinism’ (Breen 2010). The emergence of the digital power is considered a problem by some as they believe that ‘the world dreams itself to be American’ which is related to the media dominance that American has. Digital determinism is largely influenced by technology because of the ‘unequal degrees of power as well as unequal powers of awareness’ (political power) (Breen, 2010). It’s also known as a digital divide and is evident in the Deloitte ‘Media Consumer Survey’ report (2015) and Screen Australia’s ‘Australian Audiences are watching online’ (2015) infographic. Studies show that Australia’s preferred entertainment source and way of watching content is through the internet and the television on any device. Screen Australia (2015) states that 50% of internet users are watching movies and TV online. “The culture and its delivery system are impacted unequally at the level at which everyday life is lived” (Breen, 2010). When Hollywood boomed, the Australian media industry lagged which created the influences we have today within the industry in terms of the power structure. The issue with digital determination is that the power differentiates Australia from America although globalisation should have synced together to gain equal trade agreements. Due to the misfortune of being the lesser power to America, Australian audiences have become problematic to target as they are so immersed in foreign cultures’ that they have forgotten about their own film industry.
Watching Australian content has become a thing of the past as the strength of distribution in the film and television industry is weak and almost invisible. If “distributors do not market Australian films effectively [they] therefore fail to maximise their commercial potential” (Aveyard, 2011). Distribution plays a key factor when films are trying to make it into the Australian market and if they are not marketed appropriately, Australians will not know about the content created. The ‘impact of internationalisation on locally made films’ has been more successful for Australian films due to other countries having a cultural interest in Australian content (Aveyard, 2011). For example; Riptide (2017) a film made in Kiama, Australia had more success in the United States (US) than here in Australia. Having Debby Ryan, the Disney star from Hollywood feature in the film helped with its success in the US but was only distributed in minimal cinemas across Australia. Australians have disconnected from the Australian market with limited resources and knowledge. This impacts the ‘strategies for connecting to the market’ (Aveyard, 2011). Online distribution has played a big part in Australian audiences, engaging with more global content and a significant increase in technological advances. It is “undoubtedly a more successful option” (Van Hermert and Ellison, 2015).
The value of cinema has changed and streaming services such as Netflix and Stan have become increasingly popular as Video on Demand (VOD). VOD and online streaming has allowed for easy access to globally distributed content. It has heavily impacted Australian’s viewing habits of homemade content. The Fair Trade Agreement has impacted global/co-productions as Australia is the weaker player in the contract with America.
Alcorn, N Harding, C Johnston, S 2015, Media Consumer Survey 2015, 4th Ed., Deloitte, Last viewed 18 January 2018, <https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/deloitte-au-tmt-media-consumer-survey-2015-100815.pdf>.
Aveyard, K 2011, Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition, Media International Australia, 138, pp. 36 – 45.
Breen, M 2010, Digital determinism: culture industries in the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement, New media society, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 657 – 676.
Hemert, T Ellison, E 2015, Queensland’s film culture: the challenges of local film distribution and festival exhibition, Studies in Australasian Cinema, 9:1, pp. 39 – 51.
Screen Australia, 2015, Australian audiences are watching online, last viewed 19 January 2018, <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/fact-finders/infographics/australian-audiences-are-watching-online>.