ABA Board Loses Another Member

The term of the only full time member of the ABA Board has expired.

Michael Gordon-Smith, finished up yesterday.

Since the departure of David Flint, the ABA Board has faced further upheaval, with almost half the members’ terms expiring and the prospect of being merged with the ACA within the next 12 months.

First to go was part time member, Ian Robertson, whose four year term expired about six weeks ago. He is Managing Partner of the Sydney office of law, firm, Holding Redlich, and an advisory board member of the Media and Telecommunications Policy Group at RMIT.

After his departure, as a short term measure, the Authority’s General Manager, Giles Tanner, was appointed as an acting member.

The ABA and Australian Communications Authority will be merged to become the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) by 1 July 2005.

The merger follows similar agency restructures in the UK and US and is supported by both the ABA and ACA. ACMA will be responsible for regulating telecommunications, broadcasting, radiocommunications and online content. Its creation ‘recognises the changing nature of the communications environment’.

New digital technologies are allowing previously distinct sectors to compete across increasingly convergent markets, using a range of different delivery platforms, which requires a more flexible regulator to be able to deal with convergence across traditional industry segment lines.

“In this environment, maintaining two separate regulators, both dealing with similar issues but focusing on different sectors of the communications industry, is neither practical nor effective,” says the Government.

The establishment of the ACMA will enable “a coordinated regulatory response to converging technologies and services and to the long term management of spectrum”.

As a single regulatory body, the ACMA will also be “better placed to respond to the outcomes of the statutory reviews of the digital television framework required in 2004 and 2005 under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992”

The establishment of the ACMA will not be accompanied by changes to the existing regulatory and spectrum planning frameworks for telecommunications and broadcasting.

The ACMA will maintain the existing offices of the ABA and ACA throughout Australia, although, over time, some functions might co-locate where practical.

The structure and functions of the new authority will be similar to the existing regulators, but will give the new entity the ability to regulate across convergent technologies.