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13 Dec 2017 5:11
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  •   Home > News > Business

    Comms Minister delves into convergence

    Communications Minister Clare Curran has shelved work on the blurring lines between telecommunications and broadcasting to revisit the way content is regulated.

    7 December 2017

    Communications Minister Clare Curran has shelved existing work on the blurring lines between telecommunications and broadcasting - known as digital convergence - to revisit inconsistencies in the way online content is regulated.

    The government has put the draft Digital Convergence Bill on hold and will go back for another round of consultation to address what Ms Curran says were unaddressed inconsistencies in the previous administration's review.

    In a statement, she said the draft bill by her predecessor Amy Adams didn't adequately address differing views in the sector on how to deal with the likes of streaming video content.

    She wants more feedback before starting work next year.

    "It's essential to achieve consistency and certainty for the public on classification and standards and ensure fairness across the sector, so I'll be consulting with stakeholders to reach greater agreement on the bill," Ms Curran said.

    "This is particularly important for the grey area of classifying on-demand content, which falls through the gaps in the current system."

    Last year, then-minister Adams signalled plans to extend the reach of the Broadcasting Act to capture on-demand content while making explicit that the Film, Videos, and Publications Classification Act didn't apply.

    Those changes and others followed a wider review of the regulatory framework.

    In the lead-up to the review, the previous government was coming under increased pressure from internet service providers, online content creators, and traditional broadcasters to take the issue of digital convergence more seriously.

    Since then, pay-TV operator Sky Network Television has struggled to compete with on-demand rivals, Spark has entered the content business with Lightbox, and media groups NZME and Fairfax New Zealand have unsuccessfully tried to merge to shore up their ailing advertising revenue streams against the likes of digital giants Google and Facebook.

    Ms Curran said she expected to have more information before the end of the year on if and how consensus could be built, but that it would make a decision regardless.

    "It's vital to have a robust and flexible system in place that works for providers and consumers alike," she said.


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