Asia has the greatest potential for growth of media markets in the world, according to a panel of international media experts at the In The Zone conference at The University of Western Australia.
Despite already claiming the largest number of internet users throughout the globe, penetration of new media is still in its infancy in countries such as India and China with only 18 per cent of the market online compared to nearly 80 per cent in the United States.
However, infrastructure constraints mean that a leapfrog direct to mobile internet is expected to deliver the online experience to billions in Asia.
With such a young demographic across Asia - for example, there are 400 million Indians under 25 years of age - the Asian media market is set to grow dramatically for several decades.
"As the millions become literate their first investment is a newspaper in their language. As they move to the middle class they move to an English language newspaper and India is now experiencing the great age of the newspaper," said Indrani Bagchi, Diplomatic Editor, The Times of India, the world's largest English language newspaper.
Ryan Stokes, Director of Australian Capital Equity (ACE), said the barriers for media in the region had been removed, with access to content made easier and the breaking down of geographic and technology barriers.
"Convergence is real," Mr Stokes said. "This requires media to operate along multiple platforms and access many technologies to reach the audience."
He said the "tipping points" for adoption of new technology which prompted change was roughly 50 per cent.
Mr Stokes highlighted the critical issue of intellectual property (IP) and content ownership.
"In the new environment, consumers control the content distribution process. It is going to be increasingly difficult for those who create the IP to realise the value," he said.
Mr Stokes said China was seeking to have a voice in the global media system, with the recent establishment of the China Media Capital Fund, set up to invest in international media.
He also emphasised the role the 4G network would play in providing better access to information services when it was released in Perth (first) in March 2010.
Jeremy Philips, Executive Vice President of News Corporation, agreed that the rise of the web offered great opportunity for media; often in new forms, like social media, and through new devices, particularly mobile, in Asia.
The panel, which also included Michelle Guthrie, Managing Director Providence Equity, considered that mobiles and the propensity for people to pay for information and services on mobiles as well as Pay TV, foreshadowed a preparedness to pay for quality news content and other entertainment.
IN THE ZONE is a major public policy conference initiated by The University of Western Australia positioning Western Australia as a thought leader within the time zone it shares with 60 per cent of the world's population and the nations which promise the greatest economic growth for the 21st century.
2009 marks the inaugural IN THE ZONE Conference. This will become a biennial event and a strategic meeting point for the Australian and wider regional community to engage in dialogue about the zone we inhabit and to deepen the policy, trade and investment relationships.
Information about In the Zone, including the conference program: www.zone.uwa.edu.au
NB: MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES MUST REGISTER TO COVER THE CONFERENCE. GO TO: www.zone.uwa.edu.au/news/media_registration