Tuesday, 16 June 2015 06:12

Turnbull announces ACMA shakeup Featured


Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a ‘review’ of the ACMA to ensure it remains ‘fit for purpose’ in an era of significant change.

Turnbull has issued a statement announcing his intention to revamp the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Australia’s telecommunications regulator.

The ACMA came into being almost exactly ten years ago, on 1 July 2005, with the merger of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Communications Authority. It is one of the few converged communications regulators globally – the UK’s Ofcom is another. It is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the Internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications

“The communications sector is experiencing rapid change,” said Turnbull. “In response the Government is pursuing significant reforms across the communications portfolio. We are working to accelerate the rollout of the NBN, ensure regulation is fit for the digital age, reform Australia Post, modernise Australia’s spectrum management framework and make our public broadcasters more efficient and accountable.

He announced a review of the ACMA to “ensure the regulator is able to effectively deal with challenges arising from a rapidly changing communications sector.”

Turnbull said the Australian communications environment has changed dramatically since the ACMA was established in 2005. “The rollout of the NBN, the introduction of digital multichannels, the widespread use of digital devices including smartphones, the growth of search engines like Google, and the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, are all combining to make communications services a more integral part of every Australian home and business.”

In the light of these changes, said Turnbull, the Government considers it “timely to review the ACMA to ensure it remains fit-for-purpose for the future communications regulatory environment.”

The review will consider the current communications sector and the evolving shape of the digital media and communications environment and how the role of the communications regulator should adapt to these over time. The review will make recommendations to the Minister for Communications on the future objectives, functions, structure, governance and resource base of the communications regulator.

Turnbull said the review will take into account broader regulatory reform programs being implemented by the Government, including its deregulation agenda t and the Regulatory Performance Framework to improve the way regulators administer regulation.

The review will be undertaken by the Department of Communications, supported by a reference group of Australian and international communications and regulatory experts. Turnbull did not announce who any of these will be.

“The Department will consult widely with regulated entities, consumers and their representatives and relevant organisations, including other regulators. The Department will call for submissions in the near future and will report to the Minister for Communications by the end of 2015.”

The terms of reference for the review are available here.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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