Wanting it Both Ways? Homogenisation Or Differentiation - The Western Australian Periphery Talks Back To The Core About Satellite Broadcasting
F Sudweeks & C Ess
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
This paper reinterprets unpublished raw data collected between 1986 and 1989, at a time when the remote and regional populations of Australia were one of the last groups of settled people to receive broadcast television ( and to a lesser extent, audible radio). Methodologically, the research was based on in-depth interviews with Western Australians carried out after a two-phase questionnaire survey - initially to Broome, Fitzroy Crossing, Homesteads and Gnowangerup, and Dianella, a metropolitan suburb (1987). The community groups involved were each representative of specific circumstance related by broadcast services. At the time of its Australia introduction, nationally-based satellite broadcasting was already more than a decade old in Canada. At one end of a consumer continuum remote WA responses to the introduction of AUSSAT broadcasts could be summarised as 'too little, too late, too expensive'. Across the range of participants, however, a nuanced picture can be constructed which indicates a mature response to the 'new' ICt services. Initially described (by then Communications Minister Tony Stanley) as helping 'dispel the distance - mental as well as geographical - between urban and regional dwellers, between the have and the have-nots in a communication society' (Staley 1979, pp. 2225, 2228-9 cited in Hazilhurst 1990, p.20), the satellite service might have been seen as a homogenising force. Detailed interview data indicates that the people who live in remote areas and consume the broadcasts construct television very differently, generally interpreting their response to the broadcasts as building local community and as differentiating them from the city.