Government announces review of the ACMA

Thursday, 18 June 2015 11:45am

The Department of Communications is undertaking a comprehensive review of Australia’s communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), to ensure that the organisation is equipped to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing media landscape.

Silhoutte of a man pointing a remote control towards multiple screens

Under its terms of reference, the review will look at “the objectives, functions, structure, governance and resource base of the ACMA to ensure that regulatory and operating arrangements are efficient, effective and fit for purpose in the current and future communications and media environment”.

It will be the first review of the ACMA to be undertaken since the regulator was established in 2005. Members of the review panel will include Diane Cornell from the USA’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Richard Hooper CBE, the former deputy chairman of the UK communications regulator Ofcom.

The ACMA’s functions include overseeing the captioning regulations contained in the Broadcasting Services Act. It investigates complaints from the public about poor caption quality or missing captions, and issues annual reports on caption compliance by free-to-air and subscription television broadcasters. The most recent of these reports, covering 2013-2014, was released earlier this month.

“It is really good to see that the review panel includes people from both Ofcom and the FCC,” said Alex Varley, CEO of Media Access Australia. “Those regulators have really driven world’s best practice in terms of how to deal with access regulations in practical, real-world ways. I think the ACMA as an organisation can benefit strongly from that input, especially with a review of the captioning regulations scheduled for next year.”

The review is scheduled to make its recommendations to the Minister for Communications by the end of 2015.

A media release about the review, and its terms of reference, can be downloaded from the ACMA Review page on the Department of Communications’ website.

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