As we hold our breath (not) for the release of Labor’s media policy, there has been a reminder of the kind of thing federal governments, of any political persuasion, could and should be doing.
Duncan Riley, one of the grand young men of the web, has this interesting post on his blog recording the move of a Western Australian start-up media company to the US.
Mig33 (check out their website for some funny animations) is a company flogging an application that gives users Voice Over Internet Protocol, instant messaging and social networking services on mobile phones, making its users into one mobile community. It’s one of the interactive “Web 2” applications at the front end of internet development.
As Riley reports, Mig33’s parent company, Project Goth, is based in Perth but relocating. What did the Government do to encourage it to stay onshore? Did anyone in politics even know it existed? I doubt it.
Of course, from a pure economic viewpoint, moving makes total sense. Serious Web 2.0 startups need to be where it’s all happening. And yet from a purely parochial view point I can’t help but feel sad, sad that the Federal Government (and indeed the Opposition as well) continues to ignore the massive potential Web 2.0 has for Australia as an industry that is well placed to pick up much of the nation’s growth once the mining boom eventually ends. In an ideal world, our leaders would create a climate that would encourage Web 2.0 startups to stay in Australia, keeping their IP and potential profits within our shores.
Senator Helen Coonan uses the growth of internet-based media to justify the risk of greater concentration of media ownership brought about by her changes to legislation, but what is the Government doing to assist new media companies to get started, or to keep them in Australia.
And what would a Labor government do?
Media policy needn’t be only about massaging the incumbents. A bold policy would have provisions for actively encouraging start-ups and diversity, including encouragement for content-makers — journalists, film- and documentary-makers — to start their own ventures.
Despite all the fuss about broadband and the friction around Telstra, neither side of politics shows any sign of getting it. I hope I’m wrong. Got a media policy, Stephen Conroy?