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BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (DIGITAL TELEVISION SWITCH-OVER) BILL 2008

A message from the House of Representatives was reported agreeing to the following bill with amendments:

 Message no. 233, dated 4 December 2008—Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television Switch-over) Bill 2008.

Ordered, on the motion of the Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law (Senator Sherry), that the message be considered in committee of the whole immediately.

In the committee

SCHEDULE OF THE AMENDMENTS

MADE BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 (1) Schedule 2, item 3A, page 4 (lines 14 to 17), omit the item.

 (2) Schedule 2, page 4 (before line 18), before item 4, insert:

 3B Clause 2 of Schedule 4

  Insert:

   quarter means a period of 3 months beginning on 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October of a year.

 (3) Schedule 2, item 4A, page 6 (line 1) to page 7 (line 12), omit the item.

 (4) Schedule 2, item 4B, page 7 (lines 13 to 28), omit the item.

 (5) Schedule 2, page 11 (after line 5), after item 12, insert:

 12A After clause 11 of Schedule 4

  Insert:

 

11A Quarterly reports

  (1) The commercial television conversion scheme must require the ACMA to:

 (a) prepare a report for each quarter about the following matters:


 (i) the extent to which the objective in paragraph 6(3)(f) is being met for each licence area to which that paragraph applies;

 (ii) if that objective is not being met for a particular licence area—the steps that holders of commercial television broadcasting licences are taking to ensure that the objective will be met; and

 (b) publish the report on the ACMA's website.

  (2) Subclause (1) does not apply to a quarter that begins after the end of the simulcast period for the licence area concerned.

 (6) Schedule 2, page 11 (after line 30), after item 17, insert:

 17A After clause 25 of Schedule 4

  Insert:

 

25A Quarterly reports

  (1) The national television conversion scheme must require the ACMA to:

 (a) prepare a report for each quarter about the following matters:

 (i) the extent to which the objective in paragraph 19(3)(f) is being met for each coverage area to which that paragraph applies;

 (ii) if that objective is not being met for a particular coverage area—the steps that the national broadcasters are taking to ensure that the objective will be met; and

 (b) publish the report on the ACMA's website.

  (2) Subclause (1) does not apply to a quarter that begins after the end of the simulcast period for the coverage area concerned.

 (7) Schedule 2, page 12 (after line 8), after item 20, insert:

 20A At the end of Schedule 4

  Add:

 

Part 12—Ministerial reports

 

65 Ministerial reports—self-help re-transmission services and blackspots

  (1) As soon as practicable after:

 (a) the 6-month period ending on 30 June 2009; and

 (b) each later 6-month period;

   the Minister must cause to be prepared a report about:

 (c) progress in converting self-help television re-transmission services from analog mode to digital mode; and

 (d) the identification and rectification of blackspots in relation to the reception of:

 (i) commercial television broadcasting services; and

 (ii) national television broadcasting services;

  in digital mode.

  (2) The Minister must consult the ACMA in relation to the preparation of a report under subclause (1).

  (3) The Minister must cause copies of a report under subclause (1) to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the completion of the report.


  (4) In this clause:

   self-help televisionre-transmission service means a television re-transmission service that:

 (a) is covered by subsection 212(1); and

 (b) is provided by a self-help provider (within the meaning of section 212A).

Senator Sherry moved—That the committee agree to the amendments made by the House of Representatives to the bill.

Debate ensued.

The question was divided—

Question—That the committee agrees to House amendments nos 1 and 3—put and passed.

Question—That the committee agrees to House amendments nos 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7—put.

The committee divided—

AYES,28


Senators—
BilykFarrellHutchinsMilne
Brown, BobFaulknerLudlamMoore
Brown, CarolFeeneyLudwigPratt
CameronForshawLundySiewert
CarrFurnerMarshallStephens
CollinsHanson-YoungMcEwen (Teller)Sterle
CrossinHurleyMcLucasWortley

NOES, 29


Senators—
BarnettFergusonKrogerRyan
BernardiFieldingMasonTroeth
BirminghamFierravanti-WellsMcGauranTrood
BrandisFifieldMinchinWilliams
BushbyFisherNashXenophon
CashHeffernanParry (Teller)
CoonanHumphriesPayne
EgglestonJohnstonRonaldson

Question negatived.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Minchin) moved the following consequential amendment:

 Schedule 2, page 7 (lines 16 and 17), omit "after the making of the first determination under subclause 5G(1),", substitute "from 1 April 2009".

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.

Resolution to be reported.


The President resumed the chair and the Chair of Committees (Senator Ferguson) reported that the committee had considered message no. 233 from the House of Representatives relating to the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television Switch-over) Bill 2008 and had agreed to amendments nos 1 and 3 made by the House, made a consequential amendment to the bill and had disagreed to amendments nos 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

On the motion of the Minister for Human Services (Senator Ludwig) the report from the committee was adopted.

Senator Minchin moved—That the Senate adopt the following statement of reasons for not agreeing to amendments made by the House:

 House of Representatives amendment nos 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

 Amendment no. 4 deletes a clause, inserted on the motion of the Opposition, which would require the Government to report to each House of the Parliament the action taken to identify and rectify digital transmission blackspots. The Senate considers that this is a necessary accountability measure which will aid in ensuring that adequate levels of coverage and reception quality are achieved in the switch-over to digital television broadcasting.

 The other government amendments seek to put in place alternative reporting arrangements. The regime inserted in the bill on the motion of the Coalition provides more accountability than the Government's alternative. It provides for more regular reports on digital blackspots; specifically identifies the regions and the numbers of households affected; and reinforces the objective of achieving an equivalent level of coverage to households after the switch-over to digital television.

 On this basis, the Senate does not accept these amendments.

Question put and passed.