Alston changes stream of consciousness

Streaming audio and video laws should not be restrictive and biased to the interests of other broadcasting technologies, Federal IT minister Richard Alston has said.

In a statement issued on Friday, the minister said "the government has decided that internet audio and video streaming should not be regarded as a broadcasting service".

"The government will now consider whether any further action is necessary to give effect to this position and to clarify any legal uncertainties under the (Broadcasting Services) Act," the statement read.

A spokesperson from Alston's office said the existing Broadcasting Services Act, drafted in 1991, did not account for possible competition between internet broadcasting services and their offline counterparts.

The spokesperson said that competition between existing broadcasting media and internet media was not anticipated in the drafting of that bill.

"It is not clear that video and audio streaming is in the clear," they said.

The statement follows a government review conducted last week after the minister met with four members of the Internet Industry Association (IIA) earlier last week.

IIA executive director Peter Coroneos said Alston's qualification of the law was "the first step in the right direction", but he said proposed amendments to the broadcasting laws would not be effective until laws themselves were altered.

"This is only an intention," he said.

He said that further restrictions still needed to be lifted to ensure digital information providers are able to productively operate.

"They must proceed with a complete overhaul," he said. "The datacasting train still lies wrecked across the tracks."

Datacasting is the digital transmission of audiovisual information via television sets.

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