Digital Convergence Bill put on hold

Clare Curran

Wellington, December 6, 2017

The Government has put on hold the Digital Convergence Bill to seek greater consensus and ensure the Bill is fit for purpose.

A draft Bill produced under the previous government was muddled because of inadequate consultation.

It appears that a meaningful digital convergence legislative and regulatory regime was never taken seriously by the previous government.

Unaddressed inconsistencies

The inconsistencies have not been properly addressed between the classification regimes for traditional broadcast content and online content through on-demand sites which are subject to the Broadcasting Act, the Film, Videos, and Publications Classification Act (FVPC Act), or not at all.

It is essential to achieve consistency and certainty for the public on classification and standards, and ensure fairness across the sector.

Gray areas of classification

I will therefore be consulting with stakeholders to reach greater agreement on the Bill.

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

The previous government started the update of the Broadcasting Act 1989 to bring on-demand content under the broadcasting standards regime and to partly remove restrictions on Sunday morning advertising on television.

Differing views

Differing views on these changes within the sector and in the community which have not been adequately considered in the current draft of the Bill.

I want to consider these before proceeding.

I expect to have more information by the end of the year on how consensus will be built with stakeholders and on canvassing the public, so that work can begin in earnest in 2018.

It is critical that a speedy but effective legislative remedy is found for the classification of on demand content. If consensus cannot be found, the government will have to proceed with a remedy that will not please all stakeholders.

Today’s media world offers many platforms and gives consumers more choice and accessibility; it’s vital to have a robust and flexible system in place that works for providers and consumers alike.

Clare Curran is Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister of New Zealand.

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