Western Professor Speaks at national communications conference

Park poses with fellow professionals

Western Professor Speaks at national communications conference

Sep. 21, 2017

The annual Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (commonly referred to as TPRC based on its historic name) wrapped up on Sept. 9. Researchers and telecom employees alike spoke about the changing landscape of the internet and its impact on policy-including Western State Associate Professor Eun-A Park.

First a reporter for the Korean arm of Mademoiselle Magazine, a now-shuttered women’s magazine, Park’s focus soon turned to research with the MIC, a Korean government program responsible for research into media development.

“I researched New Media and Telecom policy,” Park explained.

This research has continued through her education at the University of Michigan and Penn State, the latter of which she earned her doctorate from. Her research on New Media has flourished over the past 10 years as she's had a number of papers published in the field.

Before, her work focused on how OTT (“Over the Top” media, or streaming services that don’t lay infrastructure for their service) were altering the mass media landscape in the United States.

Park joked about the price of cable here in the United States, and said that gave American citizens a greater drive to switch.

While her past research was limited to Korea and the United States, this particular study focused on telecom companies around the world.

Park’s paper regarding the impact of corporations like Netflix and Hulu on the landscape of mass media companies was presented to a crowd of “(Federal Communications Commission) researchers and professors … all talking about policy,” Park said. “They would talk for longer than I did!”

This thesis had her aggregate and correlate revenue data, diversification models and business structures between the major forms of mass media (broadcast, cable, satellite, and now OTT media) to analyze the impact of streaming services on the internet.

Broadcast, cable and satellite media all required the installation of hardware and infrastructure to function. However, with the advent of OTT corporations that function based off existing infrastructure, the profit margins of the so-called “big three” have decreased.

Therefore, there’s growing tension between companies like Netflix and Comcast.

“If you have Hulu and Netflix and pay just $20 for both, why have cable?” she asked. “That’s why telecom companies push against Net Neutrality.”

Park mentioned how cable companies have lobbied for the removal of Net Neutrality—the concept that websites and users shouldn’t have to pay cable companies for access to certain pages—as a counterattack against these OTT corporations. With the new chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, she says the stance of the FCC on this issue has switched.

“They don’t know how to regulate it,” she said.

Her conclusion? “OTTs are the future,” she said. “Telecom companies are making the switch already.”

Story by Mason Albrechtson.