Datacasting rules review

The Federal Government will commence a review of the current datacasting rules in early 2002, and has released an issues paper and called for submissions to the Review of the Operation of Schedule 6 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Datacasting Services).

"The purpose of the review is to ensure that the legislative framework for datacasting services provides the maximum scope for development of new and innovative digital services while maintaining the moratorium on new commercial television licences," reads a statement from the office of the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston.

Datacasting is a category of service that, according to content restrictions, must differ from traditional broadcasting to protect the interests of free-to-air television networks making the transition to digital.

In May, the Government was forced to cancel the datacasting spectrum auction when only three companies remained interested; ntl, Gresham Partners' subsidiary Barwix, and Perth-based Australian Datacasting Corporation. Only one bidder, ntl, was interested in licences in all eight metropolitan areas. Major industry players, such as Telstra and Fairfax, dropped out of the auction citing reasons such as prohibitive costs and heavy restrictions. When withdrawing from the auction, Fairfax called on the Government to scrap datacasting altogether.

Submissions from interested parties on matters raised in the issues paper should be provided by January 25.

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