Wednesday, 16 September 2020 00:45

ACMA research program focus on public interest impact of future developments in communications, media landscape


Australia’s telecommunications regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released its research program for the 2020 to 2021 financial year, with its primary focus on consideration of how current and future developments in the communications and media landscape will impact public interest outcomes and its regulatory role.

Releasing the program on Tuesday, the ACMA said the research program ensures that we it is well informed as a regulator, so it can assess “whether and how to intervene when issues arise”.

Outlining the strategic context for its research, the ACMA said its corporate plan 2020–2021 identifies the major changes it expects will shape the environment over the next four years, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the media and communications environment, which will see:

  • increased reliance on telecommunications service providers
  • increased reliance on digital platforms
  • ongoing environmental impacts that require us to remain responsive and adaptable when supporting industry and consumers
  • long-term structural changes to traditional media and communications industries in response to competition with digital platforms
  • changing consumer behaviour and expectations in response to increasing interconnectivity, mobility and data-sharing
  • the impact of digital platforms on the news industry
  • the spread of misinformation
  • breaches to the privacy of consumers
  • foreign via social media demand for data-driven technologies redefining how individuals and businesses engage with each other an increasing need for greater collaboration between international regulators
  • international trends driving demand for spectrum, including:
  • the appetite for wireless broadband, particularly services
  • ongoing commercialisation of IoT applications
  • advances in broadcasting technology
  • rapid innovations in satellite technologies and services.

On its research and data collection, the ACMA says it seeks to be “trusted by the Australian community as an expert, independent and effective regulator operating in the public interest, with research and data used as an evidence base for decision making and to ensure we are up to date on market developments and consumer trends.”

The ACMA notes that it commissions independent market research agencies to undertake consumer surveys on consumption of media and communication services, and other related topics as required - and data is also sourced through third-party data subscriptions to gain broader insights and for trend analysis.

“The ACMA gathers intelligence and insights to understand the markets we regulate and industry characteristics. Information is gathered from a range of secondary sources with reference to current literature and the implementation of relevant regulation in other jurisdictions through reviews and audits. Analysis of data from third-party tools is also conducted, the ACMA notes.

“The data gathered by the ACMA from statutory media and communications industry reporting and monitoring of industry compliance with obligations and rules is also used to report on matters relating to the communications industry, including performance.

“As part of a multi-disciplinary approach to regulatory analysis, the ACMA also draws on economic, engineering and legal expertise.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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