Meeting the digital challenge - the need to extend the parameters of reform

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    Unprecedented changes in technology, infrastructure and services within the broadcasting, telecommunications and information technology sectors are challenging the continuing efficacy of media laws. In November 2006, the Government passed legislation designed to address a variety of issues relating to digital broadcasting and ·to give effect to its longstanding policy of reform of media ownership laws. The article examines the November 2006 reforms in relation to digital media, and considers the extent to which they address the present weaknesses of the Australian regulatory framework. It considers the operation of the multi-channelling reforms, the HDTV requirements and anti-siphoning arrangements as well as the measures to transfer the power to allocate new commercial licences from the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA), to the Government. The analysis of the reforms is followed by an examination of certain compelling industry issues that have not been addressed by the reform package. The notion that sector-specific reforms are inherently unsuited to regulating increasingly converged telecommunications, broadcasting and information technology sectors is analysed. Finally, the law reform debate to date will be considered, and conclusions drawn as to required media law reform. It is submitted that, whilst the November 2006 reforms succeed in rectifying all the problems addressed, the package of laws is myopic in its scope and vision. What is required is a media industry wide analysis of the operation of the existing laws and the consideration of a new regulatory framework that regulates on the basis of the nature and characteristics of the service rather than on the basis of increasingly artificial sector-specific distinctions between 'broadcasting' and 'telecommunications' operations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)92-113
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of law and information science
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • broadcasting
    • digital television


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