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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2439

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (21:34): The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Dividend) Bill 2013 makes minor amendments to the datacasting licensing regime in the Broadcasting Services Act and the Radiocommunications Act. The digital dividend spectrum, which is scheduled to be auctioned in April 2013, will enable a range of advanced mobile broadband services to be provided into the future. In order to release this spectrum, broadcasting services currently occupying the relevant channels need to be cleared. The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy will then re-designate the spectrum from its current formal assignment as part of the broadcasting services bands. This re-designation is only expected to occur once all broadcasting services are relocated by the end of 2014. The datacasting licensing regime in the Broadcasting Services Act currently imposes a range of content requirements for providers of datacasting services in broadcasting services bands.

In absence of the changes introduced by this bill, these requirements would potentially apply where a new service commences in digital dividend spectrum in advance of its re-designation. However, the bill will not affect existing services which already operate as datacasting services in broadcasting spectrum. These will continue to be subject to the datacasting rules. The provision that is in the bill also includes a safety net to ensure that the proposed changes are not used to circumvent the intended purpose of the datacasting rules.

I would like to thank the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications for their work on the inquiry into this bill. I would also like to thank the opposition and the shadow minister for communications for his cooperation in agreeing to an amendment to this legislation that he will put forward, and the government will support that amendment in a cooperative manner. I thank members for their contributions to the debate. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.