Internet usurping other media in Australia

SYDNEY – With 73 per cent of Australian households online as of June, Internet users are reducing their consumption of traditional media formats like television, radio, magazines and newspapers in favor of accessing entertainment and information services online.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates telecommunications, has released research — titled Telecommunications Today Report 6: Internet Activity and Content — that found e-mail, online banking, paying bills, news and weather updates to be the most common uses of the Internet by Australians this year. The ability to stream and download videos, podcasts, music, television shows and up-to-the-minute news reports has contributed to the decline in traditional media format consumption.

According to the report nearly a quarter of household Internet users now watch less television, while 18 per cent said they read magazines less often and 17 per cent read newspapers less often.

In terms of total activity online, males recorded higher levels of usage for adult Web services (porn), downloading audio/video and accessing news and weather information. Females are more likely than males to use the Internet for accessing health and medicine information, education and study sites.

The ACMA found that heavy Internet users — those accessing eight or more times per week in excess of 10 hours — are increasing as broadband penetration approaches 5 million households, while dial-up connections dramatically continue to decline.

The use of the Internet for online purchases is also booming, with 54 per cent of Internet users in the quarter ending March 2008 having bought a product online – up eight per cent from 2006.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said that one of the main changes to consumer behavior is the willingness to engage in commerce online. The most popular e-commerce transactions are paying bills, airline ticket purchases and accommodation bookings.

“The Internet has also become a significant social medium with the majority of Internet users nominating e-mail and socializing as activities they perform online.

“Changes to social interaction have been identified with a large number of Internet users participating and using social networking sites, instant messaging, blogs and VoIP as communication tools,” Chapman said.

Facts from the ACMA report include:

— Australians living in remote areas were 24 per cent less likely than major city dwellers to have an Internet connection

— Households with an income of A$2000 (US$1,347) or more per week were three times more likely to have broadband compared to households on less than $600 per week

— Families with children under 15 years were three to four times more likely to have Internet access than other families

— Australians with post graduate degrees were 83 percent more likely to have broadband access than people with no tertiary qualifications

— 56 per cent of dial-up users spend more than 10 hours per week online, compared to 61 per cent of broadband users

— The 18-24 and 25-34 age groups are the most common “heavy” Internet users, with 62 per cent of each bracket going online more than eight times a week (65 and over was the lowest)

— 60 per cent of males spend an average of more than 10 hours per week online compared to 46 per cent of women. However, women dominate the medium usage category at 41 percent compared to 29 percent of men

— Indigenous households were around half as likely to have broadband

— The value of e-commerce has jumped from $24.3 billion in 2003, to $56.7 billion in 2006