Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Australian Media Convergence Review

Senator Stephen Conroy , Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has announced draft Terms of Reference and Background paper for a Convergence Review of Australia’s communications and media regulation. By doing so the Minister has opened up a politically impossible regulatory issue. Different forms of regulation have evolved alongside separate media industries, for newspapers, book publishing, radio, TV, film, video games, mobile telephones, the Internet and the web. Each of these has its own vested interests. The digital technology now underpinning all of these is forcing convergence, where all are provided by the same equipment. The result of this will be a few winners and a large number of losers. The difficult issues faced in the competing interests with regulation of sports broadcasting, between free to air and pay TV represent only a tiny aspect of the issues.

Unfortunately the government is having difficulty with the scope of such a task, as illustrated by the
Background paper not being provided in a format suitable for online viewing, only as a facsimile of a traditional print publication.

The Convergence Review (the Review) will be undertaken by a committee of independent experts (the Committee), appointed by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and supported by a dedicated secretariat within the Minister's Department.

The Committee is to review the operation of media and communications regulation in Australia, and assess its effectiveness in achieving appropriate policy objectives for the convergent era.

In doing so, the Committee shall have regard to legislative measures, including but not limited to those contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and the Telecommunications Act 1997, particularly as they relate to the regulation of content and converging content delivery platforms.

The Committee shall also have regard to the structure of the broadcasting, media and communications industries in Australia, to the role of the regulator (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) and to the views and expectations of Australian citizens.

The first step in conducting the review is to seek the views of Australian consumers, audiences, industry, non-government organisations and other levels of government on issues relevant to the review.

To that end, the Government is seeking views on the proposed Terms of Reference that will guide the work of the Committee in conducting the Review.

Submissions addressing the draft Terms of Reference should be made in writing to the Convergence Review Secretariat using our online submissions form at www.dbcde.gov.au/convergence ...

From: Draft Terms of Reference for the Convergence Review, Document ID: 131752 DBCDE, Australian Government, 14 December 2010

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