Con­ver­gence Review: Update

On 30 April 2012, the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­men­t’s report on its Con­ver­gence Review was released. The report aims to devel­op tech­no­log­i­cal­ly neu­tral leg­is­la­tion and pol­i­cy to meet trends and rapid changes in tech­nol­o­gy in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions and broad­cast­ing sec­tors such as social media, and tele­vi­sion and radio ser­vices deliv­ered over the internet.

The Report rec­om­mends prin­ci­ple-based reg­u­la­tion that pro­vides high-lev­el guid­ance to busi­ness­es and indi­vid­u­als on com­pli­ance, but is flex­i­ble enough to change with tech­no­log­i­cal advancements.

In par­tic­u­lar, three dis­tinct areas of change are recommended:

  1. Short term changes, includ­ing amend­ments to polices, pro­grams and leg­is­la­tion, such as a pub­lic inter­est’ test that will apply to changes in con­trol of con­tent ser­vice enter­pris­es and media oper­a­tors that have sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence in par­tic­u­lar local mar­kets. The pub­lic inter­est test aims to main­tain diver­si­ty at a nation­al lev­el and is intend­ed to com­ple­ment rather than dupli­cate the cur­rent pow­ers of the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion in rela­tion to merg­ers and acquisitions.
  2. New con­tent ser­vices leg­is­la­tion to replace the Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Act 1992 (Cth) as well as key areas of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Act and to pro­vide a new clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that reg­u­lates con­tent across dif­fer­ent media and reflects com­mu­ni­ty standards.
  3. Reform of com­mu­ni­ca­tions leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide for a tech­nol­o­gy-neu­tral frame­work that would apply to com­mu­ni­ca­tions infra­struc­ture, plat­forms, devices and ser­vices offered to the Aus­tralia public.

The Report pro­pos­es that a new com­mu­ni­ca­tions reg­u­la­tor be estab­lished to imple­ment the first stage of the rec­om­men­da­tions. It is not yet known when this will take place.

We will keep you updat­ed with the progress in the imple­men­ta­tion of the out­comes of the Con­ver­gence Review. In the mean­time, if you have any ques­tions, please con­tact Swaab Attorneys.