watchTV Australia could be about to get a fourth commercial TV network – after the analogue transmitters are all shutdown.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, speaking at a communications conference said that all options for re-utilisation of the spectrum currently being used by analogue television will be open for consideration.

Analogue television is due to shutdown in 2013 and will free up huge amounts of broadcast spectrum.

The question is, in this age of declining free-to-air audiences  tvscreensand the increasing competition that is going to come from new digital channels in the near future anyway – plus whatever extra ABC and SBS can offer, plus the growth of pay-TV and online media – do we need another commercial network? Is another network going to provide anything so dramatically different to what we’ve already got?  Is another commercial network going to stop the decline of free-to-air audiences?  And do we need another channel to bring us more reality shows, infomercials, sensationalist current affairs and gratuitous product-placement?

Of course, on the flipside, an extra commercial network could bring some innovation to the medium, although – as we’ve seen in radio in recent times – bringing in new players might bring in some initial innovation but eventually they fall to the same level as the existing players once the novelty wears off and commercial realities hit home.

Source: The Australian

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