On December 5, 1997 the Council of Ministers has indicated Mr. Ezio Cheli as first President of the new Communications Authority in Italy. His name has been proposed by the Prime Minister, Mr. Romano Prodi, under advise of the Minister of Communications, Mr. Antonio Maccanico. It has also been decided that the new Authority will be based in Naples.
The new Authority set up by the Law no 249 of July 31 1997 (the so-called "Maccanico Law") consists of a President, a Commission for Infrastructures and Networks and a Commission for Services and Products. The Council of the Authority consists of the President and all of its 8 members. All members of the Authority are appointed by Parliament, while the President is appointed by a Presidential Decree, upon advise of the Prime Minister and the Communications Minister.
The principal tasks facing the new Authority are:
1. The issuance by the Council, within 3 months from the setting up of the Authority, of all relevant regulations regarding the organization and implementation of such Authority;
2. The approval, within January 30, 1998, of the new national Plan for the assignment of communications and broadcasting frequencies, which will have to be issued by Minister Decree;
3. Prior to April 30, 1998, the issuance of a new regulation on television concessions and authorizations, which will be granted by the Communications Ministry;
4. Prior to April 30, 1998, the analysis on dominant positions in the communication market and definition of the regulation affecting the transitional period of frequency limitation for digital programs, cable and satellite providers and limits for radio networks.
The new Authority will have an important position within the authorizing procedure of radio and television networks' take-overs and acquisitions.
The Commission for Networks and Infrastructures will have to:
1. Study and propose a new national Plan for communications frequency use, to be issued with Minister's Decree;
2. Determine the new standards for decoders: new standards will have to be consistent with the EU and national regulations;
3. Define the criteria for access and interconnection to network infrastructure;
4. Settle controversies on access and interconnection to fixed networks;
5. Determine the criteria of the National Numbering Plan, with particular regard also to the applicable EU regulations on number portability;
6. Supervise the collateral effects on human health of radio frequencies, and the respect of the limits set forth by the Commission upon advise of the Minister of Public Health, the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Communication.
On its part, the new "Commission for Services and Products" will specifically be responsible for:
1. the issuance of directives on product quality and the supervision of the relevant compliance by operators;
2. the implementation of the service description detailed list of rights and duties of customers, indicating also the quality and performance standards related to such services;
3. the supervision of services and products distribution, including advertisement;
4. the issuance of measures concerning the introduction, licensing and use of audiovisual works;
5. the setting up safety and content protection measures for minors and from abusive services.
Given the above responsibilities, the Maccanico Law provides also for the investigative and sanctionatory powers of the Authority, inclusive the revocation or suspension of the issued licenses and authorizations to communications operators.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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