by Yuan Wang
Since the individual markets outside the U.S. can be difficult to comprehend, the natural assumption is that each country’s system is in some way based upon a U.S. model. Indeed, some systems were originally based upon a U.S. model, but they have since evolved. In some countries, the government or an agency owns and operates the television networks. Some countries permit private networks, but only in partnership with the government.
Therefore, this wiki is geographically segmented in four marketplaces: Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia, and Latin America to explore the recent developments within the international television business in 2012.
Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) champions the creation and promotion of successful, innovative Canadian content and software applications for current and emerging digital platforms through financial support and industry research. Created by Canada’s cable and satellite distributors and the Government of Canada, the CMF’s goal is to connect Canadians to our creative expressions, to each other and to the world.
The CMF provided $358 million to Canadian television and digital media projects in 2011-2012, a six percent increase, from the previous fiscal year. This investment triggered a record-breaking $1.3 billion in activity in Canada’s creative economy.
In addition, the CMF announced many changes in the 2012-2013 guidelines:(Changes applicable to all Production Programs)
- Maximum Contribution for Digital Media Components increased to 75%
Previously, the CMF’s Maximum Contribution for funding a Digital Media Component(s) was 50% of a component’s Eligible Costs. This has now been increased to 75% of Eligible Costs. The dollar amount cap remains unchanged.
- Rules related to format buys clarified
Foreign format buys with significant Canadian adaptation and creative contribution are eligible for CMF funding. Previously, however, some CMF rules regarding the ownership and control of the project could be interpreted as rendering format buys ineligible. The CMF has now clarified that, while applicants must own all rights (including copyright) and options necessary for the production and its distribution in Canada and abroad, appropriate exceptions for a purchased format will be made on a case-by-case basis.
In respect of Essential Requirement #2, the CMF may not allow, at its sole discretion, a format buy to meet this requirement notwithstanding that it does not receive two CAVCO points for Canadian writer(s) if there are Canadian writers that are significantly involved in the writing such that they obtain writing credits and that Canadians meaningfully control the adaptation of the format.
In respect of Essential Requirement #3, in the case of a format buy, the original owner of the format may not retain approval rights for creative elements and a non-Canadian consultant may be hired to ensure format elements are respected.
Japan and the United States tend to be though of as the two poles of the video game industry, with Japan seen as the originator and the United States as the current, dominating force. But with Europe’s annual Gamescom event starting, I though it might be a good idea to reflect on how Europe fits into the worldwide video game industry.
Great Britain—Our Neighbors Across the Pond
The games industry predict tax breaks will create more jobs
The United Kingdom is the largest video game market in Europe. Unlike in the United States, video games in the UK have been held up alongside film and television as an important medium worthy of artistic recognition.
The UK is generally regarded as the hub of European game development. Pop over to London and you can find Eidos Interactive, publishiers of the Tomb Raider and Hitman franchises; Rocksteady Studios, creators of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City; and Splash Damage, creators of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Brink. Media Molecule, creator of the LittleBigPlanet series and Lionhead Studios, best known for the Fable series are both based in Guildford in Surrey. Rare, the developer of the Viva Pinata, Banjo-Kazooie and Kinect Sports games is located in Twycross, Leicestershire.
In addition, long-awaited tax breaks for the game industry have been announced in the budget. This change has been lobbied for several years and this is a brilliant decision by the government and terrific news for the UK video games industry. The decision will benefit not just the UK games development and digital publishing sector, but also the wider UK economy.
Tax relief for the video games sector should generate and safeguard 4,661 direct and indirect jobs, offer £188m in investment expenditure by studios, increase the games development sector’s contribution to UK GDP by £283m and generate £172m for the Treasury.
However, they still need to go much further than today’s announcement on the creative industries and broadband and take some real action to optimize the full potential of the entire UK tech sector.
France—The Land Of Wine And Assassins
Ubisoft, one of the biggest video game publishers in the world, is based in Rennes, France. They have studios in over two-dozen countries and own some of the biggest franchises in gaming, including Assassin’s Creed, Rayman, and the Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon franchises. In the opinion of industry experts Ubisoft “won” E3 2012 with its slate of Wii U launch titles and the announcement of Watch Dogs, which blew audiences away.
The multinational media company Vivendi, which is the majority stakeholder in Activision Blizzard, Inc.; Quantic Dream, the studio behind Heavy Rain and the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls; and Gameloft, one of the largest publishers of mobile games in the world are all based in Paris. Arkane Studios, whose upcoming game Dishonored is at the center of some heavy industry buzz at the moment, is based in Lyon. Major French games industry figures include David Cage from Quantic Dream and Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft.
Northern and Eastern Europe—Exploring The Gaming Frontier
Scandinavia is home to a bevy of companies you might recognize. EA Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment, also known as DICE, best known for the Battlefield franchise is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Starbreeze Studios, developers of The Darkness and Syndicate, are located in Uppsala, Sweden. Guerilla Games, creators of the Killzone franchise, is based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Funcom, the developer of the new MMO The Secret World, is based in Oslo, Norway. Familiar industry names from Scandinavia are Ragnar Tornquist, Creative Director of The Secret World and Patrick Bach, Executive Producer of the Battlefield games.
CCP, developer and publisher of EVE Online and the upcoming DUST 514, is based in Reykjavik, Iceland. Germany is one of the largest European video game markets and the home of Crytek, developer of the CryEngine game technology and the Crysis series, which is headquartered in Frankfurt.
Poland is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in European game development. Notable Polish game studios include People Can Fly, developer of Bulletstorm and the upcoming Gears of War: Judgment; Techland, developer of Dead Island; and CD project, developer of The Witcher II: Assassion of Kings. Moving further east the wildly successful Wargaming.net, developer of World of Tanks, was founded in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.
Australia and Asia
Media Access Australia
Two acts of Parliament, the Broadcasting Services Act 1992(Cth) (BSA) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992(Cth) (DDA) have driven the growth of captioning on Australian television. When digital television began in 2011, the BSA made it compulsory for networks to caption all programs between 6pm and 10pm, and all news and current affairs programs.
Subsequent to this, a series of agreements between the free-to-air networks, Deaf Australia and the Deafness Forum of Australia, brokered by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), saw the networks agree to increased caption quotas between 6am and midnight, rising to 85% in 2011. In return for agreeing to these captioning levels, the AHRC granted an exemption to the networks under the DDA with regard to captioning.
This process has now been superseded by further amendments to the BSA which were passed in June 2012. These make it compulsory to caption 90% of programs broadcast between 6am and midnight in 2012, and this will rise to 100% in 2014.
In June 2012, the Broadcasting Services Act 1992(Cth) (BSA) was amended to include caption quotas for subscription television for the first time.
Prior to this, the introduction of captions and increased levels of captioning on subscription TV have been driven by agreements brokered by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). In exchange for agreeing to provide minimum levels of captioning, the AHRC had granted subscription TV providers from the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992(Cth) (DDA). This process has now been superceded by the BSA amendments.
For the first time, seven major Japanese broadcasters and two Japanese government ministries will come together at MIPCOM to promote new TV format ideas.
The new networking event is designed for the international TV formats community and will be held on the eve of MIPCOM to give formats executives an early start to finding the next hit format for their market.
Japan has for decades inspired some of the world’s most famous formats and Japanese broadcasters, Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), TV Asahi Corporation (TV Asahi), Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. (TBS), TV Tokyo Corporation (TV Tokyo), Fuji Television Network Inc., (Fuji TV) and Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) together with the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will be introducing the newest and most spectacular Japanese TV formats to major TV stations and production companies from around the world during the gala dinner.
Japanese broadcasters have been attending MIPCOM individually since the 1980’s, but this is the first time that they will unite into an All-Japan effort. By presenting their formats directly to the executives of leading companies attending MIPCOM, the seven broadcasters hope to see more ideas from Japan converting into big international hits.
On Sept. 9, Jia Yaoting, chairman of LeTV, announced plans to step into the production of smart TV, thereby establishing a complete system, which includes platform, content, terminal, application, and screen. The smart TV, which will be produced by a subsidiary of LeTV, will hit the market in nine months, according to Jia.
The move has elicited widespread suspicion, as critics say LeTV lacks hardware strength as well as the sales channels and marketing experience for smart TV.
In response, Jia Yaoting notes that LeTV is determined to forge a TV ecological system, which covers the licensing of TV channels, setup of LeTV, rollout of the set-top box, and now the production of smart TV.
To demonstrate its determination, LeTV has injected 28.28 million yuan (US$4.46 million) of capital into the subsidiary responsible for smart-TV production. The board of directors of LeTV has resolved to further invest 100 million (US$15.79 million) in the subsidiary within the next 12 months and 500 million – 1.5 billion yuan (US$78.97 million – $236.9 million) in the next one to two years. Meanwhile, the subsidiary will seek partners for the production of smart TV.
Li Yi, vice chairman of China Mobile Internet Industry Alliance, notes that the major blockade for the development of smart TV in China is digital convergence, which will also be the major challenge facing LeTV for its smart-TV plan.
An observer noted that it is still unclear what policy the regulator will adopt concerning the smart-TV program of LeTV. Previously, LeTV was once stopped by the regulator for its set-top box program.
Digital convergence has been progressing rapidly in China since this year. On Sept. 20, Hebei Broadcasting Information Network Group signed a strategic cooperative framework agreement with the Hebei subsidiary of China Mobile Communications Group for pushing digital convergence.
The development of digital convergence has also enabled BesTV, an IPTV (Internet protocol TV) operator, to accelerate its march towards the market. This year, BesTV has completed the upgrading of its various programs, including movie, finance, sports, education, and music. Under IPTV, customers can choose their favorite programs and the operator then determines to roll out the kinds of programs accordingly.
Under the trend of digital convergence, new business opportunities are emerging and more business models are overhauling the structure of the entire industry.
The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry is considering steps to make India a teleport hub enabling the country to become an up-linking and downlinking centre like Hong Kong and Singapore, a ministry official said.
Up-linking and downlinking is the process of sending and receiving signals from a satellite, used for telecasting television programs.
India becoming a teleport hub would be instrumental in attracting accelerated flow of foreign direct investment (FDI). It has state-of –the-art technology and can help move up in the value chain in content generation.
The decision of the government to allow 74 percent FDI in DTH, IPTV, mobile TV et cetera are some of the steps that have been taken in this direction and underscored that those steps would be game changers to make India a digitally happening place.
ADRIANA CISNEROS AT MIPCOM: “THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FOR LATIN AMERICA THIS DECADE WILL BE TO CAPITALIZE ON EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES”
Latin America’s middle class is growing at the rate of 70 million people per year, this emerging segment of the population is more connected and informed, is increasing its investment in entertainment, and demanding a much more complete experience. In cases such as Colombia, where the middle class nearly doubled in a year, or Peru, where today 56% of its urban population belongs to this segment, demonstrate how the region is being transformed.
Along with the growth of the middle class in the region, new digital media platforms are also revolutionizing the way television content is produced and consumed in Latin America. What’s more, Internet usage in the region is increasing at an impressive rate, 16% in 2011 alone, and it’s currently the third largest mobile market in the world. This opens up vast opportunities for the proliferation and commercialization of television content and its digital extensions.
Howard J. Blumenthal, Oliver R. Goodenough. (2006). This Business of Television: Revised and Updated Third Edition. New York: Billboard Books.