Comms industry convergence drives regulatory merger

The federal government has introduced a Bill into parliament as the first legislative step towards merging its broadcasting and communications regulatory authorities.

The federal government has introduced a Bill into parliament as the first legislative step towards merging its broadcasting and communications regulatory authorities.

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, said the creation of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, (ACMA) resulting from the merger of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Communications Authority, was a response to convergence in the communications industry.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult for two separate regulators, one of which is primarily focussed on infrastructure and carriage issues and the other focussed chiefly on content issues, to provide a holistic response to convergence," Senator Coonan said.

The creation of the ACMA would enable a coordinated regulatory response to converging technologies and services, she added, with benefits including a reduction in duplication in the compliance process, more harmonised representation to international bodies such as the International Telecommunications Union and could allocate resources "to enable a timely response to periods of high demand for spectrum planning".

The ACMA is expected to start operations by mid-2005.

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