Interactive media group prepares for war over trade deal

Interactive media group prepares for war over trade deal

Summary: Australia's peak interactive media body says it is preparing to go to war against the Australian government over the proposed free trade agreement with the US, claiming the deal deeply threatens its constituents.

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TOPICS: Government
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Australia's peak interactive media body says it is preparing to go to war against the Australian government over the proposed free trade agreement with the US, claiming the deal deeply threatens its constituents.

The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) claims the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) not only jeopardises the country's cultural future but it also endangers its economic development, clouding the future prospects for Australian digital media creators, owners and producers.

Executive director of AIMIA, Louise van Rooyen, says the whole interactive media industry could face "serious consequences" if the AUSFTA is accepted, as she says the article that exempts interactive media from free trade is "vague" in expression.

"The crucial exception from open trade in services relating to interactive media is vaguely referred to as 'interactive audio and/or video services" said van Rooyen, adding: "It is the vagueness of this definition that most concerns the Australian interactive media industry."

She adds that not only does this description not provide adequate coverage of all the current areas in the complex industry, but "it won't cover them in the future because they'll all be digital."

Along with other members of the Australian Coalition of Cultural Diversity (ACCD), AIMIA plan to meet with the chief negotiator of the AUSFTA, Stephen Deady, this coming Thursday to express their "dissatisfaction".

Van Rooyen says that the lack of regulation over digital services in the AUSFTA will leave the Australian industry vulnerable to US domination.

"If the government agree to this they are potentially signing away Australia's economic future in the e-commerce industry. There's no clear protection or exemption for digital services in the agreement, it has been traded away under the commerce chapter," said van Rooyen.

van Rooyen says members of the ACCD agree the future of the cultural industry is heavily embedded in digital products, thus the coalition is prepared to fight for the technologies that they believe will "shape Australia's economic future".

"The Australian government has chosen to lock in its ability to regulate interactive media services in its trade with the US using vague terminology which overlooks the future for the development of information, communication and entertainment technologies," said van Rooyen.

Topic: Government

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