Sunday, October 23, 2005

The future for television production

Sometimes I wonder where TV is going. I mean, are screens getting bigger or are they shrinking?

At the smaller end of the scale the video iPod will be closely watched (excuse the small pun) to see whether consumers really want to be able to watch TV anywhere they can, on something the size of a credit card. Similarly, the trial of broadcast to handheld digital devices, such as telephones, will see whether people will watch TV of less quality (or should I say, a lower bitrate?). Maybe consumers are happy to look past the lack of detail for the convenience of mobility. Fox seems to think so, they've plans to offer a device 7" screen in 2007 that will allow people to carry around programs they've recorded on the hard disk named iQ currently available.

On the bigger screens there's the cinemascope version of digital television, which offers better pictures and sound without meeting the consumer's demand for variety. (Although people are saying that even multicasting won't improve the uptake of digital television.) Around the corner is high definition version of DVD (whatever format wins, although Bill Gates reckons it'll give way sooner, rather than later, to hard disk storage), as well as HD home video cameras and all the depth and detail required to fill the window of a plasma screen. This is why the whole obsession with bigger TVs boggles me - why do you want to be more conscious of the pixels in the current audiovisual media? Those big screens are fine if you're sitting on the other side of the room but maybe I'll see things differently when HD content becomes more widely available.

It seems to me that whatever screen you look at, it may as well be offering the internet. If you take the view the different screen sizes discussed previously show what high speed connections could and should be offering, imagine the variety of what could be available. Especially if Google develop a video search facility as good as the one they offer for images. Or maybe Yahoo will do something decent for a change. Last year most of the TV I watched was downloaded, so where's the incentive for broadcasters? Higher speed connections will further facilitate the distribution of pirated programs and, if there's any advertising left outside of the program, better methods of removing the breaks.

Content is key and, with increasing variety in options of distribution, the onus will be on matching the medium to the message. Consider this observation by Richard Walsh, former director of PBL, Text Media and Cinema Plus, in a recent address to the Australian Shareholders Association:
"Free-to-air television is holding onto Test cricket and rugby by the skin of its teeth. Sport, news and films have for a very long time been the mainstays of network television. As sport moves to pay TV, as datacasting becomes more important in the news area and DVD availability destroys the feature film business, the networks face a very challenging decade."

I'd guess there's potential in tailoring material to the consumer. Perhaps offering a unique experience of a narrative, complete with advertisements customised to your demographic. Hell, if they could make it really entertaining, you might even be able to charge for it. It's been suggested to me that, with the ability to make free phonecalls online, telephonic companies will need to package new services to continue to compete. This has been called the Triple Play option. Or maybe producers could sell their programs directly to viewers?

Either way, television broadcasters will need to embrace the move to improved digital services or invest in local content to compete with people downloading what they want, when they want it. Broadcasted content will need something to distinguish itself from what's readily available and bigger pictures, better sound might be it. (Unless, of course, the author was right in an article I read about how the detail in high definition isn't always pretty. He quoted a plastic surgeon as saying the on air talent are very nervous.) Hell, maybe Mike Rebbechi was right when he speculated whether we'll be watching 3DTV in the near future?

Whatever may come, I'm sure I've made the right choice in studying television production. The skills in creating and producing compelling content will only grow more valuable as the cost of distribution decreases. Previously my studies focused on print journalism and I considered graphic design. But, at this rate, print will increasingly be limited to packaging and journalism will need to be as engaging as television if it's going to compete. Bring it on.


My other roles on Mish Mash were recording sound for the commercials Erin produced, filming the segment Sam produced and editing the commercials Joel produced. Again there were a number of frustrations to deal with, first and foremost being limited to dodgy and occassionally broken handheld microphones instead of Sennheiser 416s. Or the radio lapel mics.

I thought the second best bit of my audio work was Shane chewing into a Kit Kat but for some reason that didn't make it into the final ad. Recording Sally was also fun and she's got to be the most professional actor I've worked with yet. Probably the best of my audio work was the theme song I composed for the Barrel of Monkeys ad. Sadly, Erin thought it too dark so it didn't get used but I reckon she picked a tune that sounds similar. Then again, maybe I should leave production music to the professionals. My Mish Mash theme song was also passed over :(

Sam's segment was really well produced. Sometimes group assignments have been painful because plans fall apart or you're given notice at the last minute. Sam had it all running smoothly, under control and made sure you felt appreciated too. And he had a good story. Shame I had no joy filming it. Part of the problem was the location, the lighting, the lack of a wide angle adapter for the camera, the camera's sound not working - hell, then there was the speed of the gymnast going through her routines. The day was difficult from the 6am start until the following Monday when I wondered how Eliza was going to sync the sound in the interview.

I had something of an epiphany while working on Joel's ads. While putting one shot next to another, I realised how changing the camera angle added to the narrative. It doesn't look like much written here on the page but at the time it was a breakthrough in my head. I also realised this was the first time I'd edited someone else's footage and I felt incredibly fortunate because Joel had provided me with more than enough. Even if half of it was 4:3 instead of 16:9!

Aside from the Myer commercial, the main challenge in editing was shortening the running time. The Reaper Runners commercial could've gone for 45 seconds easily but making it run for a minute seemed too long. I considered trying a bit of ADR since it had been relatively easy to mix and match different vocal takes. The Wicked Hairspray commercial was going to get a new voice for the boyfriend character. Here is an early draft of the commercials:

The Producers

The role of producer seems to be a lot like that of manager. There are people to organise, deadlines to schedule then meet and, ultimately, an audience in mind to please. Indeed, the role of producer seems under acknowledged by film studies, particularly auteur theory.
For this blog entry I'll quote from successful producers such as Jane Scott and Aaron Spelling, using their opinions of the role to discuss my experience of producing the first episode of Mish Mash.

"We should be seen as manufacturers," says Jane Scott, one of Australia's most successful producers for the screen with credits including Barry McKenzie, Storm Boy, Crocodile Dundee, Strictly Ballroom and Shine. (Quoted in Enter the producer, Penny Hackforth Jones, Australian Financial Review 17-18 Sept. 2005.)
I was interested Scott attributed her impressive array of credits to inspiration more than avoiding typecasting:
"Each project needs to be very different from anything you've done before. You want to find something fresh and new and interesting."

The most prolific producer on television would seem to agree. Aaron Spelling, like Scott, looks for new subjects to develop for inspiration. In his 50 year career he appears to have tapped into the zeitgeist and made television shows people want to watch. His credits include Dynasty, Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Beverly Hills 90210, Fantasy Island, Starsky and Hutch, The Mod Squad, Seventh Heaven, Melrose Place and Charmed. In total 4220 hours of television, some 176 days of viewing. Apparently Spelling has an entry in the Guinness Book.

E. Duke Vincent, Spelling's business partner for 18 years, believes Spelling's talent has been knowing who audiences want to watch:
"Any television show starts with a concept, and if you don't have a story you don't have anything, but probably the most important thing in television is casting, and that's where he's king."

In an interview with Michael Idato in The Sydney Morning Herald of 19 Sept. 2005, Spelling characterises the production process as collaborative, where ideas are distilled by conflict. A kind of cerebral Darwinism where the strongest concepts survive.

Jane Scott and Aaron Spelling each reflect something of my own experience as a producer on Mish Mash, where I took my own interests as inspiration and fed them into the content. The production meetings were a process of proposing ideas and watching them be battered or praised. I'd have liked to have contributed to casting but for most of the process my focus was on developing content. Occasionally this meant arguing with people but I took the view I should be flexible and tried to find merit in their proposals. Stephen made a couple of decisions where I wanted more consideration but otherwise I find myself agreeing with his vision for the show and admiring its extent.

What I like about producing is the creative process and its realisation. On the day I really appreciated seeing the script being enacted. I'm not sure where I got the idea I should let the director run the control room unhindered as I gave directions to sound, actors and the floor. By the time I got to the control room I found I'd never established that part of a working relationship with Aaron where I'd tell him how it looked to me and he'd appear to care. So when I suggested we skip the performance from Sheldon in the last rehearsal as it was obviously draining him and one of the hosts needed a break, it was ignored. Then again, he had a heap to worry about so maybe it would've been better if we'd compared notes earlier in the day. Anyway, this is nothing.

Mish Mash was a great experience and lots of fun (like most of the assignments this year). I'm told that people start developing a keen sense of their studio roles in second year, so it'll be interesting to see what experiences my classmates take from Mish Mash.

One thing is sure - Dave can really drive the Yamaha desk

Friday, October 21, 2005

Interview in review

For this blog entry I'm going to reflect on issues involved with interviewing people. Interviews are something I've done for assignments, articles for print and, most recently, for marketing videos. In each case the interview was arranged in advance but I can see potential for being more opportunistic when collecting interviews for television.

I haven't filmed many television interviews (only one entirely by myself so far!) but the best advice I've learned is to ask the subject to try and repeat your question in the first line of their answer. This provides context for their statement and can save having to script something later.

A good interview provides insight, a bad one feels like a waste of time for everyone involved. The process of extracting insightful material can be unexpected or, more often, it's the interviewer's role to know what insights they're after and create a conversation in which they'll be recorded. Andrew Denton is very effective at doing this. I like how he (or his researchers) will dig up old interviews and use previous statements to segue into a question.

I remember first thinking about this during a revealing interview with Toni Pearen. Actually, to write it was 'revealing' is wishful thinking. Anyway, she must've been bored talking about All Men Are Liars because she started explaining how her experience of interviewing people for television was that you know the sound bite you're after and you usually end up frustrated by the process of trying to record it. Thinking about it now it shows how research ensures you have some insights that can be extracted and questions to ask if the flow of conversation doesn't go where you want. And to know where you want it to go, you need to know. And that's why you need research.

Am I repeating myself? Maybe if I keep it up I'll find a sound bite. That's the other problem sometimes: waffle. I'm prone to it at times but thankfully in interviews the focus is on what the subject is saying.

In some situations the sound bite is all you can get and the insight is more of a statement. Sometimes the interview subject will be following their own script, either pushing a particular point of view or repeating a response to a frequently asked question. For the former the interviewer needs to try different approaches, testing the logic of the subject's responses and hoping to find an inconsistency or new bit of information to expose new detail. For the latter the interviewer needs to surprise the subject and break the pattern of previous interviews.

I once interviewed Stuart Coupe, a prolific Australian music journalist. The second thing he said to me was "How the fuck are you?" It seemed really effective in setting a light-hearted tone. Obviously it wouldn't work in all interviews but it impressed me as an attempt to establish friendly communication. This seems a good approach since the other thing an interviewer needs to do is establish trust. I'm curious how television interviewers manage this because my experience from print is it can be hard to establish over the phone and face to face interviews aren't usually allocated enough time.

There seems to be a direct relationship between how important the interview subject is and how long you get to talk to them. Consider how George W Bush has largely avoided interviews while president. His Australian counterpart seems to prefer phoning a radio shockjock but will appear on television (frequently sparring with Kerry O'Brien) more often than in print. Political interviews tend to be characterised as adversarial, in broadcast more so than print (where the journalist always gets the last word).

In Crikey yesterday there some interesting advice from interviewer Jonathan Coleman, formerly of Simon Townsend's Wonder World and now appearing in a weekly segment on Sunrise. Coleman believes you need to match your personality to that of your subject.
"When I'm interviewing Elton (John), I become more gay. For Meatloaf, I become more fat. For Billy Idol, I just become 'More'."

This degree of empathy seems right for celebrity interviews. Andrew Denton also said something similar recently:
"I try to be as vulnerable as they are."*

It's said nothing should be treated as off the record with a journalist. However, if you think about what John Brogden said to a couple of journalists, it would appear you can be held accountable for anything said anywhere these days. I'm hoping it will lead to a higher degree of wit in public announcements because politicians will be employing considerably more consideration while writing them?

(Sadly the lesson learned from Brogden and also Frank Sartor is that humour should be avoided. Luckily for media consumers used to news filled with short bursts of sensationalism, the media have proven adept at trivialising policy and condemning off the cuff remarks. Brogden and Sartor's remarks generated oodles of columns but it was mostly so shallow it didn't get beyond whether they were racist. It seems to me the real issue to tackle is how we acknowledge this misnomer called 'race'. I mean, I thought there was one human race with many genetic variations. Culturally we view these variations as significant yet in public discourse we're unable to discuss them. There are plenty of examples of how not to discuss 'race' but few promoting how to acknowledge it without offence. I think Sartor's comment was taken out of context and, as Brian Toohey's observed, Brogden was hardly saying all asian women are mail-order brides.)

This leads me to the other thing a good interviewer does and that's keeping the interview relevant. It's got to have an angle, a kind of narrative that establishes and resolves. Otherwise it's got to be packaged up to the consumer as being relevant or else it risks being a disjointed series of points. Hope this hasn't been the case here.

*Quoted in a great piece on this subject in The Sun-Herald, Interviewing the interviewers by Steve Dow, published in their magazine on 2 Oct. 2005

Nothing idle: sound resources and design

When thinking of sound resources on television I could think no further than Australian Idol. And, since Jo records the Sunday night performances most weeks, I didn't have to plan to be in front her parents' TV set. (We've bad reception in the shed.)

They had an 80s theme for the night and the white suits made that nasty hiss. The sound was further degraded by being recorded on a mono video recorder. A shame as I couldn't hear the full extent of their large group of musicians. It was interesting to hear what they chose to focus on in the single audio channel: vocals, bass and drums. There was usually a lead instrument in the mix too, keyboard or guitar. But none of the strings or wind or the freaking harp.

The sound design of the show was interesting in how effective that seemingly two-note theme track in the background when the presenters were talking kept the pace up. It maintained energy in the show and pushed the aural identity. I quite like songs with this kind of unresolved riff built from snippets that sound like they came from something even cheesier than the enthusiastic sample.

While the theme bubbles along the hosts do a good job of sounding relaxed and in control. James occasionally gets that faltering, emotive tone in his voice but otherwise they play it very cool and professional. The presenters used different microphones than the performers and it made me wonder if the foam covers were needed to stop breathing or just to rest against their chin as they talk.

The attraction of the show is obviously the performances. The singers all seemed to use the same sort of wireless Shure mic. Watching the young vocalists mostly belt through their tunes, I wondered whether someone was manually adjusting their levels. It wasn't like the performers were making a lot of effort to adjust the distance of the microphone. Maybe they just heavily compressed the signal to be fairly forgiving. If that's the case, it might explain why there's nothing subtle in the mix. A mate of mine who works in mastering tells me he's seen commercial radio stations feeding contemporary recordings through six compressers in series for broadcast. I'd expect television does something similar and it must remove most of the dynamics of the performance.

A really striking sound in the show was the stamping on the floorboards in one section. The audience mics gathered a deeper sound than the claps, whistles and cheers you'd anticipate they'd need to capture. It seemed the studio audience were totally hyped for the show and it struck me as being an extremely orchestrated production, from the short burst of cheers to the near silence when the judges were talking. It ran incredibly smoothly for a live broadcast. And, except when some of the performers would respond to the judges and forget to raise their mic, the audio levels were there.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Autocue - device for projecting text onto front of camera, usually lines for the talent
Amp, amplifier - device for increasing levels, usually audio, sometimes through powering speakers. Amp can also be an adjective
Barco - specialised screen for displaying multiple video feeds
Barndoors - shutters on studio lights for limiting output
Beer - alcoholic beverage made from fermented yeast and served cold. In TV Production at CSU these serve as a kind of demerit point
Camera, cam - device for recording visuals
Check - process of ensuring equipment is working
Clip - short segment of audio or video
Clipped - occurs when levels are above their threshold, can mean distortion
Colour bars - information showing bars of colour used to calibrate or establish recording level
Crane - a camera movement, usually lowering or raising, that can be done with a crane or similar support
Cue - prepare, as in 'Cue talent' to tell an actor to prepare for their take
Cut - stop, usually filming
Dimmer - adjustable switch for lights
Dolly - wheels, or some variation, providing mobility for a camera tripod, pedestal or other support
Dry run - rehearsal
Dub - copy
Exposure - the level of light recorded through the lens
Fade in/out - lowering/raising levels of sound or vision, usually from/to silence or black
Focus - verb for resolution, either allowing light or mental faculties to process an object
Foldback - speakers providing sound to talent
Gel - coloured transparent material for colouring light source
Grid, lighting grid - literally a grid configurations for hanging and powering studio lights
Iris - the camera shutters for controlling exposure and sometimes focal length
Levels - depending on context this can refer to volume of sound or exposure of cameras, amongst others
Locked off - usually a camera that has been set to an unchanging perspective or shot
Mic, microphone - device for recording audio
On air - broadcast, transmitted and sometimes recorded
Pan - a camera movement literally panning or turning from one side to the other
Patch - connection between components, such as an audio patch would be a lead conveying the audio signal between two devices such as a mic and a camera
Pedestal - heavy, gas-filled camera support
Print - record
Reflector - a reflective material used to redirect light
Roll - start playing pre-recorded audio or video
Servo - motorised remote switching mechanism
Shot - the perspective of a camera on the object being filmed, examples include wide shot (broad perspective); medium close up (navel to top of actor's head), close up (actor's face); extreme close up (actor's eye or other feature)
Sound mixer, mixer, mixing desk, desk - device for mixing/editing multiple audio streams in and out, possibly incorporating effects such as compression or reverb
Standby - await further instruction
Stinger - short clip used between segments in television show, usually to reinforce brand
Strike - pack away studio equipment
Stripe - colour bars
Studio pedestal, ped - device that serves as an indoor dolly
Take - a recording, or the process of recording, a scene or possibly even a single shot or line
Talent - usually the person appearing in front of the camera
Tighten - a camera direction for tighter framing
Tone - an audio signal used to calibrate or establish recording level
Track - a camera movement that can literally require tracks but can also use a dolly, ped or be handheld
Tripod - lightweight three-legged camera support
Vision mixer - device for mixing/editing multiple video streams, usually live, possibly incorporating effects such as dissolve or wipe
White balance - process of establishing the correct colour temperature for the camera
Wrap - as in 'That's a wrap' to indicate it is finished
Zoom - a camera lens that shifts focal length, into or out of a frame, allowing changes in lens type

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hit the lights

There are a number of differences between lighting a band for a multi-camera television production and lighting a band for purely an audience. In each case it’s worth noting the role of lighting in creating mood:
Many musicians don't realize that they are doing theater. If the lighting doesn't match, or stuff is just thrown up on stage, it's not going to work.

The value of a good lightshow isn’t normally what sells tickets but it can be the difference between bitching about the performer to your mate and being totally transfixed throughout the show. Consider the role of lighting at raves for example, watching a bloke play records from a distance isn’t very special but putting amazing lights above him can make it so.
You can massively improve the "wow" factor of your shows by thinking about the lighting

Or, to quote from someone selling their lighting services:
Dance-floor lighting at your event makes a huge difference! With the proper dance-floor lighting, attendees are more likely to get up and dance, and enjoy themselves.

Having looked at a few websites I’m struggling with the variety of lights, the roles they serve and how to combine them. It’s a bit more than discussing the effect different colours can produce so I’m going to skip straight to the role of colours:

Red: angry, dramatic
Blue: cold, night time
Pale purple: neutral
Orange/yellow: warm

I'd debate whether pale purple is neutral. Isn't it supposed to make people look unblemished, healthy and a bit sexy?

I haven’t had much luck finding websites discussing how to light bands for television so I’ll reiterate what was taught in class: include some white lights amongst the coloured ones, especially spotlights. These help the camera to focus, provide contrast and, most importantly, allow viewers to see better given the camera is a poor substitute for the human eye when dealing with varying or low light levels.

I can see the value in using white light sparingly. I’ve been fortunate to photograph a bunch of concerts and learned to check the lights before loading a roll of film into the camera. For bands using low level lights like Tool this allowed me to get useable images by using black and white. These days I’d expect it’s easier with a digital camera as you can adjust the film rating on the go. The one concern I’d have about using white light is how much. My experience of using a flash was that it ruined more pictures of bands performing than it helped as it can wash out any sense of atmosphere. This is more of a reflection based on my own experience though since a comparison between flash and white light is a bit stretched. Controlling the lights offers a lot more influence on the final appearance of the event than taking snapshots.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dancing With The Stars

Dancing with the Stars is a multi-camera show on the Seven network. It has just started its third season with something of a whimper compared to previous seasons where they've had Pauline Hanson drawing a lot of free publicity from the mainstream media. This probably reflects badly on the producers, those people working behind the scenes in the lead-up to filming the show to ensure there’s talent on screen. Some of the talent is drawn from Seven’s stable of presenters and actors, notably Nicky Buckley, Ian Dickson (former judge on Australian Idol who has slipped into near-obscurity since he was poached) and Ada Nicodemou, who follows in the tradition of having a starlet from Home and Away. Other talent includes “national treasure” Dawn Fraser, familiar face Michael Caton and some football player (I think).

The hosts Daryl Somers and Sonia Kruger seem to be easy targets for critics like Helen Razer, who wrote in The Age:
Host Somers has a high level of discomfort with his auto-cue and a fondness for gags marginally less funny than those one finds in Christmas bonbons. Shiny co-pilot Sonia Kruger, despite her Amazonian good looks, has all the genuine on-screen warmth of a dalek.

I’d agree Daryl needs a new gag writer but otherwise they do their roles okay. Both pale next to Paul McDermott on the ABC’s Strictly Dancing.

The show must be a massive undertaking for the producers given the size of the set and band, a live audience and the number of contestants (and the six weeks of training they undertake). It has, however, paid off for Seven with the opening episode of the third series attracting 1.98 million viewers for its two hours.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Overview of regulations for children's broadcasting

There are many arguments for regulating the programming of television where it is aimed at, or potentially viewed by children. A couple of good summaries are here and here. Given the ease that issues surrounding children can be used politically, I’m surprised the ACMA/ABA haven’t issued reams of guidelines and codes. They have, however, provided the Children’s Television Standards (CTS), which need to be met as a licencing condition for Australian television broadcasters. "The objective of the CTS is to ensure that children have access to a variety of quality television programs made specifically for them, including Australian drama and non-drama programs."

The CTS appears to be reviewed and updated regularly (see here and here). Perhaps this is not surprising as it has been observed:
The quality of children's programming on commercial television has been a major issue since the commencement of television in Australia. The basic policy position with regard to children and television has been as follows:
As a result the CTS outlines the ACMA/ABA must classify children’s programming before broadcast and; commercial broadcasters are required to meet minimum annual quotas of material in two classifications: 260 hours of children’s programs (C) and 130 hours of pre-school programs (P). C programs must include at least 32 hours of Australian children’s drama, 25 of which must be first release – meaning it is new content.

I am given the impression the ACMA/ABA establishes screening times for children’s programming through codes of practice, such as this (dated) one from the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations.

The CTS details acceptable advertising within programming for children, including their content, classification, ratio to programming and frequency. The ACMA/ABA also enforce the classification of advertising within periods that may be viewed by children, such as weekend sporting broadcasts as shown in this recent news release.

In July 2004 the ACMA/ABA established tighter regulations for advertising aimed at children, particularly food and beverages, in response to extended criticism from community and health groups.

From what I've seen compiling this brief summary, I expect the CTS is effective in maintaining community expectations of children's broadcasting - especially given the frequency of revisions the document appears to undergo.

Overview of Australian television code(s) of practice

The Australian television industry broadcasts following guidelines established by the Federal Government in the Broadcasting Services Act. These broadcasters are considered to self-regulate their programming by operating within the Code of Practice established by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA, formerly the Australian Broadcast Authority, ABA. I’ll refer to both as they still seem to be in the process of changing over).

This system is better described as co-regulation as the television industry follows agreed guidelines that are developed through consultation. The broadcasters can establish their own codes of practice and register them with the AMCA/ABA, such as those of the ABC and SBS, but the ACMA/ABA ultimately establishes standards with respect to particular matters. It is worth noting they can amend a code of practice “and whilst its breach attracts no ‘penalty’, the ABA may nevertheless impose conditions on the issue and/or renewal of licences.”

Professor David Flint, former Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, has said
The Australian system of co-regulation brings the regulation of broadcasting closer to the self-regulation the print media enjoys. Is this not more consistent to the standards of a democratic society, one where the various forms of media are converging?

He noted this relies on the power the AMCA/ABA has to regulate where codes of practice are lacking but he was satisfied the system operated successfully through comparison with attitudinal studies undertaken by the AMCA/ABA.

It is interesting Professor Flint thought complaints are not the best method to gauge community standards, suggesting they are not necessarily typical or representative. Complaints are, however, a democratic method for viewers to take issue with broadcasting.

Under this system of co-regulation complaints from viewers are directed to the offending station. They must be made in writing and within 30 days of the offending broadcast. The broadcaster then has 60 days to reply to your complaint. If they do not do this or you are unhappy with their response you are then encouraged to raise the issue with the ACMA/ABA, forwarding copies of any correspondence.

This system of regulation is not without critics. My view, not unlike Professor Flint, is it relies on a certain sort of person to pursue a complaint if they have to put it in writing. In recent years some complaints by politicians have been given discussion in the media, such as the 68 complaints made by former Senator Richard Alston, then Minister for Communications – the portfolio that oversaw the ABA. On that occasion the ABC’s Independent Complaint Review Executive dismissed all but two of these complaints:
It found the two instances were one of: "speculative reporting" and the second, a "tendency towards sarcasm" However, the review found 'AM' reported "reliably and competently" over 30 days of war coverage and that none of the Minister's complaints amounted to evidence of systemic anti-American or anti-coalition and partisan reporting.

An example of where the ACMA/ABA has acted in response to a broadcaster not responding to a complaint can be found here.