ACMA review rejects PM’s preferred super-regulator model

A departmental review of the Australian Communications and Media Authority has recommended against the Prime Minister’s preferred UK-style super communications regulator, proposing a new commission agency and calling on the government to overhaul outdated communications regulation.

The review by the Department of Communications and the Arts recommends the end of the technology-specific approach, instead recommending a layered approach. This would give it a wide remit looking at applications, content, devices, carriage, infrastructure. The ACMA currently administers specific rules for broadcasters, telcos and wireless operators.

The review which is now open for public consultation till June 10 found the ACMA performs well and has been efficient in its operations. “However, its remit, responsibilities and functions lack clarity and cohesion, and its regulatory and performance objectives are unclear,” the review report says.

“There is a lack of clarity as to decisions which are best made by the regulator and those which are policy decisions for the government, particularly in areas that are increasingly contested such as spectrum allocation. These have made the ACMA’s job increasingly difficult in making regulatory judgements and the allocation of its resources, resulting in some frustration for the regulator and the industry.”

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