Cprf presentation sydney 8 november_flew


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Presentation as ALRC Commissioner to Communications Policy and Research Forum, Sydney, 8 November 2011

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  • Inquiry Terms of Reference 20 years since last comprehensive review of Censorship and Classification, undertaken by ALRC (1991) Rapid pace of technological change and community uptake of new media technologies Community needs and expectations in an evolving technological environment Need to improve classification information available to the community and understanding of what content is regulated and why Desirability of strong Australian digital content and distribution industries, and need to reduce regulatory burden Impact of media on children and increased exposure of children to a wider range of media Size of industries that generate potentially classifiable content, and their potential for growth Convergence Review being undertaken through DBCDE (also to report in early 2012) Statutory review of Schedule 7 of Broadcasting Services Act 1992 – classification of online content
  • Cprf presentation sydney 8 november_flew

    1. 1. Reforming the Australian Media Classification Scheme Professor Terry Flew Australian Law Reform Commission Presentation to Communications Policy and Research Forum, Sydney, 8 November, 2011
    2. 2. The National Classification Scheme <ul><li>Classification Board : </li></ul><ul><li>films </li></ul><ul><li>computer games </li></ul><ul><li>publications (some) </li></ul><ul><li>Enforcement: </li></ul><ul><li>sale </li></ul><ul><li>distribution </li></ul><ul><li>advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Customs : </li></ul><ul><li>‘ objectionable material’ </li></ul><ul><li>ACMA : </li></ul><ul><li>broadcasting </li></ul><ul><li>online content </li></ul>
    3. 3. Challenges
    4. 4. Background <ul><li>ALRC review of Censorship and Classification (1991) </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid pace of technological change and community uptake of new media technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Community needs and expectations in an evolving technological environment </li></ul>
    5. 5. Other related inquiries <ul><li>Attorney-General’s Dept –R 18+ for computer games (SCAG agreement in Adelaide July 2011) </li></ul><ul><li>DBCDE accountability review for ISP filter (RC) </li></ul><ul><li>Senate Committee inquiry into film and literature classification scheme </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence Review – including sch 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act </li></ul>
    6. 6. The ALRC review announced Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Robert McClelland MP
    7. 7. The Hon R McClelland MP Attorney-General Terms of Reference <ul><li>Consider the extent to which </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 ; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State and Territory enforcement legislation; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedules 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 ; and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship and related laws </li></ul></ul><ul><li>continue to provide an effective framework for the classification of media content in Australia </li></ul>
    8. 8. The Inquiry begins Professor Terry Flew, QUT
    9. 9. Media policy, regulation and governance <ul><li>Media policy: goals and norms that inform and underpin relevant media legislation, and the intentions and instruments associated with shaping the structure and behaviour of actors in a media system; </li></ul><ul><li>Media regulation: operations and activities of specific agencies that have responsibility for overseeing the media policy instruments that have been developed to manage the media system; </li></ul><ul><li>Media governance: totality of institutions and instruments that shape and organise media systems – formal and informal, national and supranational, public and private, large-scale and smaller-scale. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Fragmentation in the current classification framework <ul><li>Between the Commonwealth, states and territories </li></ul><ul><li>Between departments and areas of legislation </li></ul><ul><li>ALRC Report (1991) promoted regulatory harmonisation but: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Failure to reach agreement on “X” classification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refusal of “R18+”classiifcation of computer games </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different legislative/regulatory bases for Classification Act and Broadcasting Services Act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act 1999 for Internet content </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Challenges of 21 st century media classification <ul><li>Increased access to high-speed broadband Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Digitisation </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence </li></ul><ul><li>Globalisation </li></ul><ul><li>Acceleration of innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of user-created content </li></ul><ul><li>Greater media user empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Blurring of public/private & age-based distinctions </li></ul>
    12. 12. A threshold question: incremental change or root-and-branch reform? &quot;Australia's media content regulation system is like a bowl of spaghetti that's been put to the back of the fridge and gets dragged out every five years, reheated with additional sauce, partly eaten and then put back in the fridge for later. It's complex, tangled and from a media user point of view its impossible to tell which bit of media content connects to which regulatory framework&quot;. Professor Catharine Lumby, statement at launch of “The Adaptive Moment: A Fresh Approach to Convergent Media in Australia”, K. Crawford and C. Lumby, Journalism and Media Research Centre, University of New South Wales, 5 May 2011.
    13. 13. Guiding Principles for Reform <ul><li>Safeguarding individual rights </li></ul><ul><li>Broadly reflecting community standards </li></ul><ul><li>Protection of children </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer information (incl. complaints) </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptive regulatory framework </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate competition and innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Clear regulatory purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on content – platform neutrality </li></ul>
    14. 14. Verticals and horizontals
    15. 15. Policy implications <ul><li>Convergence Review – regulatory parity </li></ul><ul><li>A logical extension of the ‘layered’ approach is that a policy framework can develop around a specific service regardless of its mode of delivery. ‘Regulatory parity’ is founded on ideas of fair competition and technology neutrality, which—at their broadest—suggest treating all content equally. The concept of regulatory parity has appeal for many stakeholders although stakeholders may differ on whether it is best achieved by deregulating services or by regulating services that currently have little or no regulation (DBCDE, 2011: 13). </li></ul><ul><li>Classification Review – platform neutrality </li></ul><ul><li>with the growing popularity of ‘smart televisions’ and other devices that enable seamless access to converged media content from a single platform, there is a need to focus classification on the content that is to be classified, rather than the platform from which it is being delivered (ALRC, 2011: 66). </li></ul>
    16. 16. Policy Instruments Policy Instrument Advantages Disadvantages Direct government regulation (‘command-and-control’ regulation) Legal certainty; enforcement provisions Knowledge gaps; costs; time; non-compliance Self-regulation, co-regulation and quasi-regulation Flexibility; industry knowledge; buy-in; scope to raise standards Risk of tokenism; govt. avoidance of issues; barriers to entry Voluntarism Motivated participation Difficult to target outcomes; interest over time Education and Information Low administrative burden; low cost Private/public interest tensions Economic instruments Behavioural influence; incentives; scope for innovation; flexibility Costs to govt.; inequitable impact; determining outcomes
    17. 17. Core elements of ALRC Discussion Paper proposals <ul><li>New Classification of Media Content Act </li></ul><ul><li>Platform neutrality </li></ul><ul><li>Consistent, age-based classifications (C, G, PG8+, T13+, MA15+, R18+, X18+, RC) </li></ul><ul><li>Co-regulatory approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Refocusing of role of Classification Board </li></ul><ul><li>Training and accreditation framework </li></ul><ul><li>Further research into community standards </li></ul><ul><li>Referral of classification powers to the Commonwealth </li></ul>