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Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill 2001

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1998 -1999-2000-2001

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2000

 

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

Amendments to be moved on behalf of the Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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



BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2000

 

 

OUTLINE

 

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill (the Bill) amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA), the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 (the ABC Act), and the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 (the SBS Act):

(a)                 to transfer provisions giving the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS) the specific function of datacasting from the BSA to their respective enabling legislation; and

(b)                to make a number of minor amendments to the provisions of the BSA inserted by the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Digital Television and Datacasting) Act 2000 (the Digital Act).

 

The proposed Government amendments make further fine tuning amendments to codes of practice and complaints handling procedures in relation to ABC and SBS datacasting. In particular, the proposed amendments would:

·         modify section 8(1)(e) of the ABC Act and section 10(1)(j) of the SBS Act to ensure that the respective Boards of the ABC and SBS have the power to develop codes of practice for their datacasting services (Amendments (4) and (6));

·         amend Part 4 and clause 37 of Schedule 6 of the BSA to exempt ABC and SBS datacasting services from provisions relating to codes of practice and ABA investigation of complaints under codes of practice (Amendment (2));

·         ensure the code of practice complaints handling provisions in Division 2 of Part 11 of the BSA apply to both national broadcasting services and datacasting services provided by the ABC and SBS (Amendment (1)); and

·         make a minor technical change to clarify that the ABC and SBS datacasting functions are not mandatory (Amendments (3) and (5)).

 

The amendments will assist the development and operation of codes by the ABC and SBS by removing a requirement that they be subject to codes of practice developed by the commercial datacasting industry that may not suit the kinds of datacasting services provided by the ABC and SBS. At the same time, the ABC and SBS will remain subject to ABA licensing procedures and ABA oversight in relation to breaches of licence conditions. This ensures that any datacasting service provided by the ABC and SBS will remain within the general regulatory framework for datacasting.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

It is expected that the proposed amendments will not have any significant financial impact on Commonwealth expenditure or revenue.



BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2000

 

 

NOTES ON AMENDMENTS

 

AMENDMENT (1)

 

Division 2 of Part 11 of the BSA establishes a complaints handling procedure in relation to complaints made about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation on the ground that that national broadcasting service has acted contrary to a code of practice developed by that national broadcasting service and notified to the ABA.

 

Amendment (1) extends the existing complaint handling procedure to apply to complaints made about datacasting services provided by the ABC or SBS on the ground that the ABC or SBS has acted contrary to a code of practice developed by that Corporation and notified to the ABA.

 

AMENDMENT (2)

 

Part 4 of Schedule 6 deals with codes of practice for datacasting licensees. Clause 28 of the Schedule provides that a group that the ABA is satisfied represents datacasting licensees should develop a code of practice for the datacasting industry, in consultation with ABA and taking account of any relevant ABA research. Under clause 37 of Schedule 6, the ABA has the power to investigate complaints made in respect of codes of practice developed under Part 4.

 

Amendment (2) inserts new items 4A and 4B in Schedule 1 of the Bill.  Item 4A inserts a new clause 35A in Schedule 6 of the BSA to exempt the ABC and SBS from the standard codes of practice clauses applying to datacasting licensees in general.  Item 4B inserts a new subclause 37(3) in Schedule 6 to ensure that the standard provision for dealing with complaints about compliance with datacasting codes of practice does not apply to the ABC and SBS.

AMENDMENT (3)

 

Proposed section 6A of the ABC Act provides that where the ABC applies for and receives a datacasting licence then, in addition to the ABC Charter functions contained in section 6 of the ABC Act, the ABC has the function of providing a datacasting service under, and in accordance with the conditions of, the licence.

 

Amendment (3) inserts a new subsection 6A(2) which provides that subsection 6A(1) is not intended to impose any obligation on the corporation in relation to the provision of a datacasting licence, beyond the obligations imposed on the ABC by the datacasting licence. It is intended that this subsection will prevent the ABC being compelled by court proceedings to carry out datacasting functions without affecting the ability to take enforcement action under the BSA in relation to licensing requirements.

 

 

 

AMENDMENT (4)

 

Section 8 of the ABC Act sets out the duties of the ABC Board. Paragraph 8(1)(e) provides that it is a duty of the Board to develop codes of practice relating to programming matters and to notify those codes to the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

 

Amendment (4) replaces current paragraph 8(1)(e) with a new paragraph which provides that it is a duty of the Board to develop codes of practice in relation to both programming matters, and in relation to a datacasting service where the ABC has the function of providing a datacasting service under section 6A. The ABC will be required to notify those codes to the Australian Broadcasting Authority, and a breach of a datacasting code of practice by the ABC would be subject to the complaints mechanism in Division 2 of Part 11 of the BSA Act, as proposed to be amended under Amendment (1).

 

AMENDMENT (5)

 

Proposed section 6A of the SBS Act provides that where the SBS applies for and receives a datacasting licence then, in addition to the SBS Charter functions contained in section 6 of the SBS Act, the SBS has the function of providing a datacasting service under, and in accordance with the conditions of, the licence.

 

Amendment (3) inserts a new subsection 6A(2) which provides that subsection 6A(1) is not intended to impose any obligation on the corporation in relation to the provision of a datacasting licence, beyond the obligations imposed on the SBS by the datacasting licence. It is intended that this subsection will prevent the SBS being compelled by court proceedings to carry out datacasting functions without affecting the ability to take enforcement action under the BSA in relation to licensing requirements.

 

 

AMENDMENT (6)

 

Section 10 of the SBS Act sets out the duties of the SBS Board. Paragraph 10(1)(j) provides that it is a duty of the Board to develop codes of practice relating to programming matters and to notify those codes to the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

 

Amendment (6) replaces current paragraph 10(1)(j) with a new paragraph which provides that it is a duty of the Board to develop codes of practice in relation to both programming matters, and in relation to a datacasting service where the SBS has the function of providing a datacasting service under section 6A. The SBS will be required to notify those codes to the Australian Broadcasting Authority, and a breach of a datacasting code of practice by the SBS would be subject to the complaints mechanism contained Division 2 of Part 11 of the BSA Act, as proposed to be amended under Amendment (1).