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Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill 2000

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1998 - 1999 - 2000
























Amendments to be moved on behalf of the Government













(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Richard Alston)




Amendments to be moved on behalf of the Government





The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill 2000 (the Bill) amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA), the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the RA) and the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (the AD(JR) Act) to provide a scheme for the regulation of international broadcasting services that are transmitted from Australia. 


These proposed amendments to the Bill relate to earlier amendments made to the BSA and the RA by the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Digital Television and Datacasting Act) 2000 (the Digital Television Act).  The Digital Television Act makes changes to the arrangements for the introduction of digital television in Australia, and implements a new regulatory regime for the provision of datacasting services.  It will commence operation early in 2001. 


The proposed amendments would amend the BSA and the RA to allow the provision of designated teletext services from commencement of digital television services in each area.  The amendments would also exempt designated teletext services from having to be licensed as datacasting services. 





The proposed amendments are not expected to have a significant impact on Commonwealth expenditure or revenue.





Amendments (1) and (2) - Clause 2 (commencement)


Amendments (1) and (2) amend clause 2 of the Bill (the commencement provision), to reflect the insertion of new Schedule 2 to the Bill (designated teletext services) by Amendment (4) below.  Existing clause 2 becomes subclause 2(1), and a new subclause 2(2) is inserted. 


The effect of subclause 2(1) will be that the formal provisions of the Bill (clauses 1 to 3) and Schedule 1 to the Bill will commence on Royal Assent. 


New subclause 2(2) provides that Schedule 2 to the Bill commences immediately after the commencement of item 140 of Schedule 1 to the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Digital Television and Datacasting) Act 2000 (the Digital Television Act).  Item 140 inserts new Schedule 6 into the BSA (dealing with datacasting services).  Item 140 is among those provisions which will commence operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation, subject to automatic commencement six months after the Digital Television Act received Royal Assent. 


Amendment (3) - Clause 3 (Schedule(s))


Clause 3 of the Bill provides that the Acts specified in the Schedule(s) to the Bill are amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule has effect according to its terms. 


Amendment (3) makes clause 3 of the Bill subject to clause 2 of the Bill.  This amendment is necessary to ensure that the different commencement provisions for Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 to the Bill operate as intended. 


Amendment (4)


Amendment (4) inserts new Schedule 2 (designated teletext services) into the Bill. 



Schedule 2 - Designated teletext services



Broadcasting Services Act 1992


Item 1:       Paragraph 6(3)(k) of Schedule 4


Subclause 6(3) of Schedule 4 to the BSA sets out a number of policy objectives for Part A of the commercial television conversion scheme (applying to non-remote licence areas).  One of those objectives (paragraph 6(3)(k)) is that commercial television broadcasting licensees (commercial broadcasters) be permitted to use spare transmission capacity on their digital channels for transmitting datacasting services. 


Item 1 amends paragraph 6(3)(k) to recognise that commercial broadcasters who are currently providing “designated teletext services” should also be permitted to use their spare digital transmission capacity for transmitting those services.  A “designated teletext service” is defined in clause 2 of Schedule 4 to the BSA as:


a teletext service provided by a commercial television broadcasting licensee, where:


(a)   the licensee provided the service throughout the 2-year period ending immediately before commencement of Schedule 6; and


(b)   the service remains substantially the same as the service provided throughout that 2-year period.


Items 2 to 5:   Notes to clauses 49 and 50 of Schedule 6


Clause 49 is the offence of providing a datacasting service without a licence.  A note to clause 49 refers to the exemption in clause 51 for licensed broadcasting services. 


Clause 50 allows the Australian Broadcasting Authority (the ABA) to direct a person, by written notice, to cease providing a datacasting service without a datacasting licence.  Failure to comply with the notice is an offence.  A note to clause 50 refers to the exemption in clause 51 for licensed broadcasting services. 


Items 2 to 5 have the effect of numbering the existing notes to clauses 49 and 50, and inserting a new note for each clause.  The new notes refer to the additional exemption in new clause 51A (inserted by item 6 below). 


Item 6:       New clause 51A of Schedule 6


Item 6 inserts new clause 51A into Schedule 6.  Clause 51A provides that clauses 49 and 50 do not apply to the provision of a designated teletext service (within the meaning of Schedule 4 to the BSA).  Thus a designated teletext service may be provided by a commercial broadcaster without holding a datacasting licence. 



Radiocommunications Act 1992


Item 7:       Section 5 new definition of “designated teletext service”


Item 7 inserts a new definition of “designated teletext service” into section 5 of the RA.  The term has the same meaning as in Schedule 4 to the BSA (see the notes to item 1 above). 


Items 8 and 9:            Subsections 102(5) and (6)


Under subsection 102(1) of the RA, the Australian Communications Authority (the ACA) must, on application, issue a transmitter licence to a person who holds a commercial television broadcasting licence issued under Part 6 of the BSA.  If that transmitter licence authorises transmission of the broadcasting service in digital mode, then under subsection 102(3) the licence also authorises transmission of digital datacasting services. 


However, the authorisation of datacasting transmission is subject to two conditions.  First, under subsection 102(5), the authorisation has effect only if the licensee also holds a datacasting licence issued under the BSA.


Item 8 amends subsection 102(5) so that the authorisation also has effect if the service is a designated teletext service. 


Second, under subsection 102(6), there is a moratorium on the commencement of datacasting transmission by commercial broadcasters.  A commercial broadcaster is not authorised to commence datacasting transmission in a licence area until either 12 months after the broadcaster was authorised to commence digital television broadcasting in that area, or another person commences a datacasting service in that area, whichever occurs first. 


However, the subsection 102(6) moratorium does not apply to a datacasting test transmission.  Item 9 amends subsection 102(6) so that the moratorium also does not apply to a transmission of a designated teletext service. 


Items 10 and 11:        Subsections 102A(5) and (6)


Section 102A mirrors section 102, for transmitter licences issued by the ACA under the commercial television conversion scheme. 


The amendments made to section 102A by items 10 and 11 correspond to the amendments made to section 102 by items 8 and 9.