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Wednesday, 27 June 2001
Page: 28661


Mr McGAURAN (Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation) (11:38 AM) —by leave—I present a supplementary explanatory memorandum to the bill, and I move government amendments Nos 1 to 14, as circulated last night:

(1) Schedule 1, item 7, page 5 (line 33) to page 6 (line 4), omit the item.

(2) Schedule 1, item 8, page 6 (lines 12 to 14), omit paragraph (a), substitute:

(a) if a relevant determination is in force under subclause (2)—ignore HDTV demonstration programs, so long as the licensee complies with such conditions (if any) as are specified in the determination; and

(3) Schedule 1, item 8, page 6 (line 20), omit “specified television programs”, substitute “HDTV demonstration programs”.

(4) Schedule 1, item 8, page 7 (lines 4 to 16), omit subclause (6).

(5) Schedule 1, item 8, page 7 (lines 17 to 28), omit subclause (7), substitute:

20 hour HDTV quota

(7) In determining, after the end of the 2-year period referred to in paragraph 37E(2)(b) of this Schedule, whether a commercial television broadcasting licensee has met the HDTV 20 hour requirement for a week, ignore any HDTV demonstration programs transmitted by the licensee during the week.

(6) Schedule 1, item 8, page 8 (after line 10), after the definition of HDTV 20 hour requirement, insert:

HDTV demonstration program means a television program that is:

(a) not longer than 60 minutes; and

(b) transmitted in HDTV digital mode on the HDTV version of a commercial television broadcasting service; and

(c) produced for the sole purpose of allowing the benefits of transmission in HDTV digital mode to be demonstrated to potential purchasers of equipment capable of receiving television programs in HDTV digital mode.

(7) Schedule 1, item 8, page 8 (lines 13 and 14), omit the definition of qualifying program.

(8) Schedule 1, item 9, page 8 (lines 22 to 24), omit paragraph (a), substitute:

(a) if a relevant determination is in force under subclause (2)—ignore HDTV demonstration programs, so long as the national broadcaster complies with such conditions (if any) as are specified in the determination; and

(9) Schedule 1, item 9, page 8 (line 31), omit “specified television programs”, substitute “HDTV demonstration programs”.

(10) Schedule 1, item 9, page 9 (lines 15 to 27), omit subclause (6).

(11) Schedule 1, item 9, page 9 (line 28) to page 10 (line 3), omit subclause (7), substitute:

20 hour HDTV quota

(7) In determining, after the end of the 2-year period referred to in paragraph 37F(2)(b) of this Schedule, whether a national broadcaster has met the HDTV 20 hour requirement for a week, ignore any HDTV demonstration programs transmitted by the national broadcaster during the week.

(12) Schedule 1, item 9, page 10 (after line 17), after the definition of HDTV 20 hour requirement, insert:

HDTV demonstration program means a television program that is:

(a) not longer than 60 minutes; and

(b) transmitted in HDTV digital mode on the HDTV version of a national television broadcasting service; and

(c) produced for the sole purpose of allowing the benefits of transmission in HDTV digital mode to be demonstrated to potential purchasers of equipment capable of receiving television programs in HDTV digital mode.

(13) Schedule 1, item 9, page 10 (lines 20 and 21), omit the definition of qualifying program.

(14) Schedule 1, item 12, page 11 (lines 13 to 16), omit the item.

The amendments limit the range of HDTV programs for which the Australian Broadcasting Authority, the ABA, can issue a determination granting exemptions from the simulcast provisions of the legislation. The government had proposed in the bill to allow the ABA to determine that specified programs on the HDTV version of a television broadcasting service may be time shifted: that is, they may be shown at a different time to the transmission of those programs on the SDTV version of the service.

In the light of the evidence given in the Senate committee hearings and of the reports of the committee members, the government has decided to revise these provisions, in keeping with the best traditions of the operations of the legislature. The amendments will enable the ABA to determine that HDTV demonstration programs can be different from the SDTV version. The HDTV demonstration programs are to be defined as television programs that are: no longer than 60 minutes; transmitted in the HDTV digital mode on the HDTV version of the service; and produced for the sole purpose of allowing the benefits of transmission in HDTV digital mode to be demonstrated to potential purchasers of equipment.

These are sensible and, in our view, necessary amendments and reforms to the government's groundbreaking legislation. The ABA will be able to specify the broadcasters and the period to which this determination applies and will be able to attach conditions to this exemption. Such conditions might, for example, relate to matters such as the time of day during which demonstration programs may be transmitted, the maximum number of hours per day and/or per week of demonstration programs and the maximum number of times demonstration programs may be repeated during a week or a day. Under the amendments, the broadcasters will no longer be required to retransmit the exempt HDTV program in SDTV mode within seven days of transmission in HDTV. The amendments also mean that these HDTV demonstration programs will not be able to be counted towards a broadcaster's HDTV quota.

In summary, these amendments will enable the benefits of HDTV to be demonstrated to potential customers. At the same time, by strictly limiting the types of programming which can be different from SDTV, the amendments will retain the integrity of the simulcast provisions and not enable backdoor multichannelling on an HDTV program stream. As with the bill, I commend the amendments to the House.