Bills Digest No. 179  1997-98 Datacasting Charge (Imposition) Bill 1998

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This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.


Passage History
Main Provisions
Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Passage History

Datacasting Charge (Imposition) Bill 1998

Date Introduced: 8 April 1998

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts

Commencement: Royal Assent


To impose charges on the providers of datacasting services.


This Bill is a revenue measure associated with the Television Broadcasting Service (Digital Conversion) Bill 1998 (Digital Conversion Bill), which amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to provide for the introduction of digital television.

Datacasting services are those involving the transmission of a digital signal (which could be in the form of data, text, image or sound) and which utilise the spare capacity of the spectrum allocated to the ABC, SBS and commercial television broadcasters for the conversion to digital television.

The charge is being imposed to prevent the television broadcasters using their free spectrum to compete unfairly against service providers who were required to pay for spectrum use.

It is an objective of the Digital Conversion Bill that the national (ABC, SBS) and commercial television broadcasters be permitted to use any spare digital transmission capacity to provide datacasting services [proposed new sections 5(2)(l) and 17(2)(l) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992]. Proposed new section 48 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 provides that a datacasting charge is due and payable in accordance with a written determination by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA). The ABA also makes determinations with regard to the standards to be observed by datacasters.

Note that datacasting services do not include commercial radio services, subscription broadcasting or narrowcasting services, and open narrowcasting services. The national and commercial broadcasters are prohibited from transmitting these services under clauses 10 and 33 of the Digital Conversion Bill.

Readers should consult the Digest of the Television Broadcasting Service (Digital Conversion) Bill 1998 for more detailed information on the digital television issue and the role of the ABA.

Main Provisions

Clause 6 imposes a charge on the national and commercial television broadcasters if they use their transmitters to transmit datacasting services.

Clause 7 provides that the amount of the charge is in accordance with a written determination of the Australian Communications Authority (ACA). The determination is a disallowable instrument.

Note that under proposed new section 50 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 the ACA is first required to report to the Minister on the competitive neutrality principles it employs in developing its proposals for datacasting charges. This report must be tabled.


Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Kim Jackson
20 April 1998
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

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ISSN 1328-8091
Commonwealth of Australia 1998

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998.

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