Thursday, 16 April 2020 11:29

ACMA still responding to telecoms industry need for 'regulatory relief' due to COVID 19 Featured


The telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) says it is continuing to respond to industry requests for regulatory relief and other actions due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

According to the ACMA recent actions in response to requests have included for mobile providers, where COVID-19 has dramatically reduced international travel, while placing increased domestic demands on the providers.

“Accordingly, new obligations to enhance customer notifications and expenditure caps for mobile services will be temporarily delayed,” says ACMA.

“All mobile providers will be given regulatory relief until 31 December 2020 from the new notification and expenditure cap obligations introduced under the International Mobile Roaming Determination and revised Mobile Premium Services Code.

For Narrowcasters, ACMA says high and low power open narrowcasting markets are currently experiencing disrupted conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to assist it has:

  • Stopped the processes for issuing the Gosford and Hobart high power open narrowcasting (HPON) licences. We will provide more information on HPON processes in the future.
  • Cancelled the May 2020 allocation round of low power open narrowcasting (LPON) licences. The conduct of the allocation round scheduled for August 2020 will be assessed in July.

And for commercial television broadcasters, the ACMA says it recognises that the television production sector has been particularly hard hit by physical distancing rules required to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is having dramatic flow-on effects for commercial free-to-air and subscription television broadcasters as their production pipelines have effectively shut down,” the ACMA says.

“In response, the ACMA has agreed to provide temporary relief for:

  • Australian drama, Australian documentary, and Children’s and Preschool program quota obligations on commercial television licensees; and minimum levels of expenditure by subscription television broadcasting services on new eligible drama programs.

The ACMA also says it will “exercise forbearance” by not taking enforcement action for non-compliance with the following obligations for the period up until and including 31 December 2020:

  • Parts 6 through 9 of the Broadcasting Services (Australian Content) Standard 2016 (ACS) and CTS8(1), CTS8(3), CTS13, CTS 14 and CTS18 of the Children’s Television Standard 2009 (CTS) by commercial television licensees; and
  • Division 2A of Part 7 (except for Subdivisions H and J) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 by subscription television licensees.

“We encourage licensees to continue to broadcast Australian and children’s content that has already been produced, noting the protections set out in Part 3 of the CTS will continue to apply to any children’s programming (and associated advertising) that is broadcast,” the ACMA said.

“Any need to extend this forbearance period and how this forbearance may impact triennial content obligations will be considered by the Authority, in consultation with industry, over the coming months.”

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