Alston flags convergence of airwave regulators

In a significant tactical move in the growing media consolidation debate, Communications minister Richard Alston has flagged the government's intention to merge communications regulatory bodies the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) and the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).

A statement issued late Monday afternoon by Alston's office said: "Convergence of communications technologies and markets is placing increasing pressure on existing institutional arrangements for sector regulators, and there is merit in considering the integration of the agencies.

"The current structure of the ABA and ACA has been an effective means of regulating the diverse communications industries. However, changes in industry structures and new technologies mean it is now appropriate to re-examine these arrangements."

The announcement signals a clear intention from the government that the media bargaining chips of datacasting, digital radio and associated data-broadcast services are now firmly back on the bargaining table, albeit with little specific detail as to what powers the new authority would or would not have.

At present the ABA covers radio and television broadcast regulation, while the ACA covers regulation of data and telephony and civilian RF spectrum.

A senior source within a television network told Computerworld the move could potentially represent an effort to ramp up the "persistently sagging" share price of Telstra prior to a sell off.

"There's no doubt that they are trying to rev-up this space at the moment. They probably expect industry to do all the thinking for them too. I'd want to see some real detail on it first though. There's a fair amount of downside risk here for a lot of players too."

If the merger is successful, the proposed authority would cover the entire gamut of digital and analogue telephony, data-casting, wireless, radio, television and internet.

An spokesman for Senator Alston said that a "definitive discussion paper" would be released imminently and that a decision was anticipated by the end of the year.

"There are two options. One is that we merge the authorities and the other is that we retain the status quo."

The spokesman refused to comment on speculation that any union between the ABA and the ACA would beget the ADA – the Australian Digital Authority.

The spokeman played down recent concerns raised by the Australian Defence Force about encroachment into military spectrum by commercial industry.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Julian Bajkowski

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?