The creation of the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the next necessary step forward

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    As a result of recent technological developments, identical services can now be transmitted using telecommunication infrastructure and broadcast using the radio frequency spectrum. Traditional broadcasting and telecommunications services have evolved beyond that which was envisaged by the legislators of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) and the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth). Further, new hybrid services have emerged which do not comfortably fit within the existing regulatory framework. The July 2005 merger of the former Australian Broadcasting Authority (the “ABA”) and Australian Communications Authority (the “ACA”) to form the new Australian Communications and Media Authority (the “ACMA”) is a powerful acknowledgment of the convergence of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors. The ABA, formerly limited to the governance of the broadcasting sector, and the ACA, formerly limited to the governance of the telecommunications sector, have now been replaced by the ACMA which has been entrusted with the responsibility of regulating both these industries. In light of this merger of institutional governance, the purpose of this article is to consider whether the next necessary step is the replacement of the present sector-specific broadcasting and telecommunications laws with a common regulatory framework applicable to both industries. In this regard, the new scheme for the regulation of ‘electronic communications’ introduced in the European Union in 2003 provides some useful insights. The framework largely replaces sector-specific legislation with a system of general authorisations which applies both to the telecommunications and broadcasting. The purpose of the article is to: (1) Outline the present sector-specific regulatory framework applying to the Australian broadcasting and telecommunications industries; (2) Consider the regulatory problems associated with convergence; (3) Analyse the operation of the new European Union regulatory framework; (4) Analyse the Australian law reform discourse to date with respect to the effects of the convergence of the broadcasting and telecommunications industries; and (5) Consider the extent to which the European Union model offers insights on addressing the remaining identified problems flowing from the convergence of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)271-297
    Number of pages27
    JournalAdelaide law review
    Volume26
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

    Keywords

    • telecommunications
    • broadcasting
    • Australian Communications and Media Authority
    • electronic communications

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