In a speech made to ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) this morning, and leaked to the Fin Review, Communications Minister Helen Coonan had two main driving points according to one Crikey witness.

Firstly, she spoke of an intention to curtail the previous powers of ACMA’s predecessor, the ABA
(Australian Broadcasting Authority), making reference to the cash for comment inquiry
in 2000. Coonan said the way in which the ABA wielded its authority in this case was
heavily criticised – hence the need to pull back these powers.

Coonan’s message was clear: the government doesn’t want another cash for comment style inquiry incurred.

Coonan’s second major priority is switching off analogue systems as
soon as possible in Australia. The government is getting impatient at
how the market is responding (or not responding as the case may be) to
the digital revolution. So, rather than rely on market-driven forces, the
government will introduce proposals to encourage consumers to take up
digital.

Encouraged by the German example, Coonan indicated that she’d like
to see a region-by-region switch off of analogue, starting with Sydney in
2010. The government’s original switch off date of 2008 has been
abandoned. The government will now act to stimulate the uptake of set-top boxes and integrated digital technology.