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The internet has given rise to new modes of communication. Services such as Netflix, Facebook and Google pose significant challenges for traditional models of communications regulation. At present, traditional media are arguably among the most heavily regulated sectors of the Australian economy, yet new media services go largely unregulated. This subject examines the conflict between traditional regulation of old and new media. Australia’s current regulatory arrangements arose in the 1990s and reflect the structure of the electronic communications industries at that time – focusing on the separate and highly prescriptive regulation of broadcasting and telecommunications. The current regulatory framework is fragmented and complex, and covers not only technical issues but also sector-specific competition, content and ownership rules. Since the 1990s, however, the communications environment in Australia has undergone a period of rapid and profound change. The emergence and ubiquitous adoption of the internet as a mass communications system has provided new opportunities for Australian publishers and audiences by dismantling traditional technological, economic and regulatory barriers to entry. From national security to sport, this revolution in communications has profound policy issues for national regulation in a global communications environment.
Principal topics include:
- What is communications law? (including different regulatory approaches)
- Regulation of communications services, including radio and television services
- Australian content rules
- Control and ownership of broadcasting and communications enterprises
- Digital broadcasting law and regulation
- Pay TV and the anti-siphoning regime
- Competition in telecommunications (including regulation of anti-competitive practices, NBNCo and the structural separation of Telstra)
- Interconnection law and policy
- Spectrum allocation (including licensing and spectrum auctions)
- Consumer protection issues
- Regulation of internet content and filtering
- Multi-channelling of free-to-air TV services
- Regulation of new services and technologies, including convergence of media and Australian content requirements.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of key principles of communications law in Australia and comparable jurisdictions
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal principles
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to communications law
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field of communications law
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving law reform in the field of communications law
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding communications law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of communications law.
Last updated: 9 October 2020