The Australian Communications and Media Authority could be in charge of regulating streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify, ABC iView and even YouTube if changes from a review into the government agency are enacted.
The government announced a review of the ACMA last year to determine whether the agency could keep up with the massive changes taking place in the communications and media sectors in recent years.
A draft report of this review was released on Friday, with many changes suggested, including the regulation of streaming services.
Streaming services will fall under the “applications and content layer” of the agencies new horizontal “stack” of services.
“A fundamental issue with the current regulatory regime is the distinction which is sought to be maintained in a number of areas between broadcasting, telecommunications and internet services, at a time when the boundaries between these industries are increasingly difficult to define,” the report says.
“With the recent take-up of applications such as Spotify and Netflix, subjecting traditional broadcasters to regulatory treatment on the basis of the broadcast technologies they employ has become difficult to justify.”
The report brings up regulatory gaps such as the FreeTV code of practice which applies to TV networks that deliver content via traditional means, but does not apply to streaming services, including catch up services run by free-to-air networks.
“The ability for one service provider to deliver the same content to different devices over different networks has led to inconsistent regulatory treatment,” the report says.
It also brings up the degree of influence these services can hold in relation to traditional TV networks, broadcasting and newspapers.
“In the media sector, ownership and control rules for broadcasting, datacasting and newspapers are designed to limit the degree of influence of any one media proprietor,” it says.
“However, the current concept of influence does not consider new forms and suppliers of communications and media content, nor new patterns of consumer behaviour.”
The ACMA concluded that a combination of these issues lead it to believe that, “current media and communications legislation and regulation in Australia are under strain, increasingly ‘unfit for purpose’, and often unsuited to the goal of promoting the public interest”