Last week the Convergence Review Committee handed down its
interim report. The Committee, chaired by Glen Boreham, former IBM
Australia Managing Director, is tasked with reviewing the operation
of media and communications regulation in Australia. The Committee
has focused on encouraging innovation, removing unnecessary
regulation and ensuring that regulation is technology neutral.
The Committee made a number of recommendations, the most
significant of which are:
the introduction of the concept of Content Service Enterprises.
The Committee recommended that such enterprises be required to
support Australian content, either by committing a percentage of
total program expenditure to Australian content or by contributing
to a converged content production fund
a new communications regulator, independent of the government,
with the ability to regulate and sanction industry members and deal
with content related competition issues
the removal of content licences to enable free flowing
communication in the converged environment
the introduction of a public interest test for significant
media transactions. This would ensure a diversity of voices and
apply to all Consent Service Enterprises, unless granted a specific
The Committee's recommendations herald a shift away from the
traditional regulation of broadcasters, to a regulatory regime that
encompasses all content providers.
The effectiveness of regulating activities often driven by
overseas companies will be a significant challenge for any new
regulator. There has been a mixed response from industry bodies.
Both Telstra and the Australian Interactive Media Industry
Association are concerned about the prospect of new regulation, and
the potential for restricted growth in the industry. However, the
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Australian Writers'
Guild and the Screen Producers Association of Australia have
supported the interim report.
The Committee received more than 250 submissions for
its interim report, and responses to the interim report close on 10
February 2012. The Committee will submit its final report to the
Commonwealth Government in March 2012.
The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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