Executive Government and Media Independence
This project investigates the current distribution of official powers over communications services in Australia. It includes audiovisual services such as broadcasting, Internet, mobile, IPTV and other platforms. These are the areas where the powers of executive government are the most sensitive; but there are related issues in the fields of spectrum allocation, licensing and planning. One issue is how much of the usual processes of government regulation is appropriate to services which involve freedom of communication. To what extent should media be treated as industries like any other? How different should their treatment be in view of free speech issues, and of the need to protect children from obscenity?
The project examines the trend over the last 20 years to increase the range of matters which government Ministers can control. It also looks at the roles of bodies such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Classification Board, so far as they affect communications. It asks about the significance of enforcement, standard-setting, planning, and public consultation; as well as accountability to the public, the parliament and the executive government. The independence of the ABC and SBS are included.
There is a comparative element in this study, encouraged by some research the Institute provided for the Hamburg-based Hans Bredow Institut on independence of regulators in Europe.
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