The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has labelled the current media legislative framework as “broken” and “under significant pressure”.

The media regulator said the majority of 55 legislative concepts it analysed were no longer functioning in a digital environment, with consumers now receiving media content across multiple platforms.

“The constructs for communications and media that worked 20 years ago no longer fit present day circumstances, let alone the next 20 years,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement.

“As Australia’s converged regulator for broadcasting, telecommunications, radio communications and online content, the ACMA deals on a daily basis with the rapidly changing communications and media environment. Its current responsibilities cover 26 Acts and more than five hundred pieces of subordinate legislation. And yet the majority of the legislation the ACMA administers was made before the internet was even in use in Australia.”

The media regulator’s full analysis is contained in a paper titled Broken Concepts – The Australian Communications Legislative Landscape. It also published a paper titled Converged Legislative Frameworks: International Approaches, examining new approaches undertaken by overseas jurisdictions.

Both papers have been submitted to the government’s convergence review, which is due to report on a potential new regulatory media framework by March 2012.

TV broadcasters remain concerned about ongoing mandatory Australian content quotas as new broadcast mediums, such as Internet TV, operate with no such requirements.

However, Screen Australia last week released an analysis showing that the hours of foreign content on free-to-air (FTA) television increased 154 per cent since 2008, compared to Australian content growth of just 59 per cent. The decline was largely due to audiences watching more content on FTA digital multi-channels, which have no Australian content requirements.

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