CRA welcomes Government response to Spectrum Review

Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) has flagged that price of spectrum will be an important issue as the recommendations are implemented.

The Government today announced it has considered and agreed to implement the recommendations of the Spectrum Review undertaken by the Department of Communications, in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Spectrum is a critical enabler of Australia’s current and future communications infrastructure. However, the legislative framework for managing spectrum in Australia is outdated.

Implementing the review’s recommendations will reduce the regulatory burden on spectrum users by making interactions with the framework, including allocation processes, simpler and faster.

Commercial Radio Australia has welcomed the Government’s response to the Spectrum Review.

Joan Warner, CRA’s chief executive said today: “A simpler and more flexible framework will allow for a more efficient and responsive system”.

“It will however be important to consider the pricing of spectrum licences for commercial free-to-air radio broadcasters in the broader context of heavy regulation, local and Australian music content requirements, advertising restrictions and mandatory tags required of radio broadcasters, as well as the key role of radio in emergency situations.” 

“The final outcome must ensure there is no increase in pricing for commercial radio broadcasters’ spectrum licences. In addition, the pricing should be considered in the wider context of total licence fees paid by radio broadcasters for the use of spectrum, which are very high compared to our global counterparts.”

“We look forward to engaging fully with the Department of Communications and with ACMA to streamline and make more efficient spectrum licensing arrangements, and to make sure that the unique role that commercial broadcast radio plays in providing robust, reliable free-to-air programming to all Australians, particularly in times of emergency, is recognised and preserved.”

The aim of the reforms will be to put in place arrangements that can meet the future demands of spectrum users. They will work towards making framework simpler, more efficient, flexible and sustainable to support new and innovative technologies and services while providing certainty of spectrum access rights for users. 

The Government will implement the three main recommendations of the review: 

    1.    Replace the current legislative arrangements with new legislation that removes prescriptive process and streamlines licensing, for a simpler and more flexible framework. 

    2.    Better integrate the management of public sector and broadcasting spectrum to improve the consistency and integrity of the framework. 

    3.    Review spectrum pricing to ensure consistent and transparent arrangements to support the efficient use of spectrum and secondary markets.

The Government expects the new framework to commence from mid-2017. The Spectrum Review Report is available on the Department of Communications’ website. 

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