Federal communications minister Stephen Conroy has told technology industry representatives the new broadband network will spell an end for many media laws and require the creation of new policy.
Conroy was holding meetings with industry stakeholders discussing the switch from analogue to digital free-to-air transmission and the fast-tracking of the $43 billion national broadband network.
Were very conscious that the existing regulatory framework that exists – particularly in the media sector – is going to struggle to survive in a truly digitised world, Conroy said. “Convergence has happened. The broadband network is going to radically reshape the media sector.”
Conroy said he was particularly concerned that internet television services would render rules governing audience-reach null. Previously, federal law prevented broadcasters reaching more than 75% of the population. Such laws are showing their age, with commercial free-to-air stations already reaching beyond this restriction through their web offerings.
Director of the Communications Law Centre at the University of Technology Sydney, professor Michael Fraser said the government faced a difficult balancing act between diversity and media industry survival.
Some people would argue that all the blogs and other sources of opinion give you sufficient diversity. I dont agree with that, he said. I dont think that they are of the same standard, and people will look for those brands as a marker of quality, that there are professional standards and journalistic ethics being applied.”