Chapter 1 - Background to the inquiry
The Senate referred this inquiry to the Committee on 8 December 2004 for report by 10 March 2005. The approach of the
bills from which this inquiry has arisen is to make only minimal change to the
existing regulatory frameworks that apply to telecommunications and
broadcasting, in order to provide for the merger of the ACA and the ABA
into a new body, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). In
accordance with the terms of reference, set out on page (v) above, the
Committee was asked to examine not only the provisions of the bills but also
whether ACMA's powers would be sufficient to deal with emerging market and
technical issues, and to consider world best practice in competition and
Conduct of the inquiry
In accordance with its usual practice, the Committee
advertised the inquiry in the national
media in December 2004. The Committee also wrote directly to a range of organisations
and individuals to invite submissions, and received 24 written submissions, as
listed at Appendix 1.
In order to explore the issues in more detail, the
Committee held two public hearings in Canberra
on 10 and 11 February 2005.
A list of individuals and organisations who gave evidence at these hearings is at
Appendix 2. While further public hearings in other States and Territories would
have been desirable, the urgency with which the Government sought to have the
bills debated limited the time available to canvass issues more widely.
Outline of the report
In Chapter 2 the Committee provides a broad overview of
the current regulatory arrangements in Australia's
telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. This chapter also gives the
history of the proposed ABA and ACA
merger and briefly reviews other reports which have canvassed this proposal.
Chapter 3 discusses the provisions of the Australian Communications and Media
Authority Bill 2004 (the main Bill) which
establishes ACMA and gives it certain powers and functions, and the provisions
of the Australian Communications and
Media Authority Bill 2004. The other eight bills that contain consequential
amendments are also briefly outlined.
Chapter 4 addresses term of reference (c) to examine a
range of international communications regulatory models. An overview of
communications regulation in the United Kingdom (UK), the United
States of America and the European Union is
provided, with particular attention to OFCOM, the UK
In Chapter 5 the Committee considers whether the powers
of ACMA and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be sufficient
to deal with emerging market and technical issues in the telecommunications,
media and broadcasting sectors. The Committee's conclusions and recommendations
are in that chapter.
The Committee wishes to express its appreciation for
the cooperation of all witnesses to its inquiry, whether by making submissions,
by personal attendance at a hearing or, as in many cases, by giving both oral
and written evidence. It stresses that
all evidence has been taken into account in the preparation of this report,
while noting that it was not possible to cite all evidence in the report.
Note on references in this report
References in this report are to individual submissions
as received by the Committee rather than a bound volume of submissions.
References to Committee Hansard are
to the proof Hansard: page numbers may vary between the proof and the official