High or standard definition choice for primary TV service

On 19 August the Government introduced the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Primary Television Broadcasting Service) Bill 2015.  The Bill proposes to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) so that commercial and national free-to-air broadcasters can choose to provide their primary service in standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD). 

The Bill also proposes consequential amendments to the anti-siphoning regime under Schedule 4 of the BSA and to provisions under section 41CA and Schedule 2 of the BSA regarding services provided using a satellite which require commercial television broadcasting licences allocated under section 38C. 

The First reading of the Bill and its Explanatory Memorandum can be found here.  

Expansion of "low impact facilities" definition

The Telecommunications Amendment (Designated Overhead Lines) Regulation 2015 (the Amending Regulation) has amended the Telecommunications Regulations 2001 (the Principal Regulations) to allow the Minister to specify overhead lines with an external cross section not exceeding 48 millimetres (mm) as "low-impact facilities" in the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 1997.  Previously the maximum size was 30mm.  Low-impact facilities can be installed with the benefit of the carrier powers and immunities set out in Schedule 3 to the Telecommunications Act 1997.

These changes came into effect on 25 August 2015 and are said to support multi-technology rollouts of high-speed broadband (in particular rollout by NBN Co).

 The Government's media release with links to the legislation can be found here.

Government announces Spectrum Review recommendations to be implemented

As reported in our May alert, the Department of Communications released a report it prepared in conjunction with the ACMA on how to improve Australia's spectrum management framework. The Government has now announced that it will implement this report's 3 main recommendations, which include streamlining legislation, improving the integration of the management of the public sector and broadcasting spectrum and reviewing spectrum pricing for transparency and consistency.  The Government has stated that it expects the new framework to commence from mid 2017.

The Minister for Communications' media release, which includes a link to the implementation timeline and transitional arrangements for stakeholders, can be found here.

Data retention regime starts 13 October

A reminder that the new data retention regime for telecommunications providers starts 13 October 2015. A link to material provided by the Attorney-General's Department to assist with implementing the new regime can be found here.

ACMA issues Radiocommunications 1.5 GHz Frequency Band Plan 2015

ACMA has made the Radiocommunications 1.5 GHz Frequency Band Plan 2015 (the Plan) to preserve the effect of the 1.5 GHz Band Plan (the 1996 Instrument), which was operating well but due to be automatically repealed on 1 October 2015 pursuant to Part 6 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.

The Plan and Explanatory Statement can be found here.