The Convergence Review is released

Convergence_Review_Final_Report
Government releases Convergence Review final report

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has today released the final report of the independent Convergence Review Committee.

“The Convergence Review’s final report sets out the Committee’s recommendations for the future of the media and communications industry,” Senator Conroy said.

“In preparing their recommendations the Convergence Review engaged in a comprehensive nationwide consultation program with stakeholders and the Australian public, including three separate written submission processes.”

“The Gillard Government decided to undertake the Convergence Review in recognition that our media and communications regulatory framework needs refreshing at a time of significant change,” Senator Conroy said.

“The Government’s approach to regulatory reform builds on our substantial communications reform agenda, which includes the delivery of the NBN and digital television switchover.”

“The release of the report provides an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the Committee’s recommendations. I expect the recommendations will generate robust public debate,” Senator Conroy said.

“The government will respond to the report in due course.”

“I want to thank the Convergence Review Committee, led by Glen Boreham, for its analysis of the media and communications regulatory framework and its future direction. The report is an important contribution to the ongoing public and policy debate for the industry.” Senator Conroy said.

The Convergence Review Final Report can be found at: www.dbcde.gov.au/convergence

The Convergence Review is 177 pages and covers a wide range of issues facing the media.

Here is a short summary of some of the report’s main recommendations:

-Recommendation for establishment of two separate regulatory bodies: one a statutory body and the other self regulated.

-The Statutory Regulator is to replace the Australian Communications and Media Authority; incorporate Classification Board and make rules on Australian content.

-The industry led body will cover TV, radio, online and print and will review news and commentary standards. It will replace the existing Australian Press Council.

– ABC and SBS are not required to participate in the industry-led body but must develop their own codes that take into account the new body’s standards

– ABC and SBS Charters to be updated with a requirement that 55 per cent quota apply to Australian content on the ABC and half that for SBS

– Rejects Finkelstein report recommendation for outlets which distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news site with a minimum of 15 000 hits per year on the grounds that it is “far too low” and very “resource-intensive”

– The licensing of broadcasting services to cease Commercial free-to-air broadcasters licence fees, calculated as a percentage of revenues, would be abolished in favour of a market-based approach to pricing broadcasting spectrum.

– Regulation of media ownership, media content standards and Australian and local content to continue

– Major media outlets to be classified ‘content service enterprises’ (CSE) and regulated based on their size and scope, rather than how they deliver their content

– A CSE is defined by: the professional content they deliver; large number of Australian users of that content; high level of revenue

– All CSEs contribute to a “uniform content scheme” for the production of Australian content.

– Review recommends threshold levels for CSE initially should be around $50 million a year of Australian-sourced content service revenue and audience/users of 500 000 per month, thus potentially excluding Google, Apple and Telstra

– Major international online and media enterprises, such as potentially YouTube, would be required to contribute to producing local content

– A ‘minimum number of owners’ rule and a ‘public interest test ‘ replace the current ‘75 per cent audience reach’ rule, the ‘2 out of 3’ rule, the ‘two-to-a-market’ rule and the ‘one-to-a-market’ rules of media ownership.

– Convergence Review findings to be implemented three stages

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