20 Dec 2010

Convergence Review announced

by Kate Jordan, Mary Still, Jim FitzSimons, Toby Ryston-Pratt, Bruce Lloyd, John Fairbairn, Linda Evans, Sarah Godden

On 14 December, Senator Conroy released draft Terms of Reference for a comprehensive review of Australia's communications and media regulation in light of increasing convergence in media platforms (Convergence Review). The Government's stated intention is to fundamentally review the policy and regulatory frameworks that apply to the media and communications landscape.

The final Terms of Reference and the members of the Review Committee will be announced in the first quarter of 2011.

Comprehensive review of media and content regulation

The Convergence Review will focus on media and content regulation, rather than telephony services, and will involve a wide-ranging review of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) and the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth).

The review is expected to cover the following items and policy matters:

  • media ownership and diversity rules;
  • content regulation, including quotas, with the aim of preserving of Australian content, voices and citizens' rights, as well as children's content;
  • removal of competitive asymmetries caused by regulation;
  • examination of the underlying broadcasting and media policy objectives;
  • management of spectrum, including spectrum allocation;
  • classification, prohibited internet content and community standards;
  • enabling diversity in the media sector to maximise consumer choice;
  • consumer protection; and
  • the role of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The Government is explicitly excluding revisiting telecommunications regulations which have recently been, or are in the process of being, reformed as a consequence of the Government's roll-out of the National Broadband Network.

Submissions on the draft Terms of Reference are due by 28 January 2011.

The Minister expects the Committee to deliver its draft report in a year, so many industry participants will be preparing to place detailed submissions before the Committee. Please call one of our experts if we can assist you.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.