Rethinking regulatory design uws conference 7 november 2011


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Presentation as ALRC Commissioner to Knowledge/Culture/Social Change conference, University of Western Sydney, 7 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
  • Rethinking regulatory design uws conference 7 november 2011

    1. 1. Rethinking Regulatory Design: the Australian National Classification Scheme Review Professor Terry Flew Australian Law Reform Commission Digital humanities, digital media, digital society panel Knowledge/Culture/Social Change Conference, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, 7 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. Neo-liberalisation of media and cultural policy? Media and cultural policy pre-neo-liberalism Media and cultural policy post-neo-liberalism Nation-states Global markets State-subsidized cultural organizations Commercial convergent enterprises Policy as servicing citizen interests Policy as serving industry interests Commitment to the public good Commitment to ‘wealth creation’ Multi-disciplinary socio-cultural projects Primary focus on economics and market development objectives Cultural policy studies Creative industries
    5. 5. 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>
    6. 6. 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>
    7. 7. Other activities <ul><li>Attorney-General’s Dept – R 18+ for computer games – July 2011 SCAG </li></ul><ul><li>DBCDE accountability review for ISP filter (Refused Classification) </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence Review </li></ul><ul><ul><li>communications and media services that are available to Australians should reflect community standards and the views and expectations of the Australian public; and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Australians should have access to the broadest range of content across platforms and services as possible. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Leximancer analysis of all 2,452 submissions Games: 98% connectivity 49% relevance
    9. 11. Q1: a new framework? Games: 30% relevance
    10. 12. Q2: primary objectives of an NCS Games: 100% relevance R18: 36% relevance
    11. 13. Access to what content, if any, should be entirely prohibited online (Q24)? None: 13% connectivity No content; 19% relevance
    12. 14. Does the current scope of the Refused Classification (RC) category reflect the content that should be prohibited online (Q25)? Broad: 68% likelihood Scope: 47% likelihood Current: 42% likelihood Games: 44% likelihood No: 33% connectivity Ye: 2% connectivity
    13. 15. Wicked Problems <ul><li>Difficult to define </li></ul><ul><li>Disagreement about problem, as well as causes/solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Interdependencies and conflicting goals </li></ul><ul><li>Possible unforeseen consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Shifting evidence base </li></ul><ul><li>Absence of clear solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Problem is socially complex (complex systems theory) </li></ul><ul><li>Problem sits across multiple agencies/jurisdictions </li></ul><ul><li>Solutions may point towards behavioural change </li></ul><ul><li>Some wicked problems may be new (e.g. climate change) but others are not (e.g. indigenous disadvantage) </li></ul>
    14. 16. Smarter Policy 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
    15. 17. Broken Concepts <ul><li>“ Digitalisation has broken the nexus between the shape of content and the container which carries it … Legacy delivery arrangements followed service-specific networks and devices. Technological change in the form of digital transmission systems means that service delivery is now largely independent of network technologies. This can be conceived and depicted as a shift from the vertical, sector-specific approach to the horizontal, layered approach” (ACMA, 2011: 6). </li></ul>
    16. 18. Broken concepts in media classification <ul><li>Platform-based distinctions in treatment of content </li></ul><ul><li>“ Reasonable adult” test </li></ul><ul><li>Clear producer/consumer distinction – rise of user-created content </li></ul><ul><li>Scope and treatment of “higher-level” classifications (R18+, X18+, RC) </li></ul>
    17. 19. Verticals and horizontals
    18. 20. 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>