15 March 2002
New digital datacasting licences for Seven Network
The Australian Broadcasting Authority has allocated datacasting licences to Seven Network television services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Queensland.
The licences were allocated to Channel Seven Sydney Pty Ltd, Channel Seven Melbourne Pty Ltd, Channel Seven Brisbane Pty Ltd, Channel Seven Adelaide Pty Ltd, Channel Seven Perth Pty Ltd and Channel Seven Queensland Pty Ltd.
Seven has described the nature and content of the proposed datacasting services as 'matter falling outside the definition of digital program enhancement content, as defined in Schedule 4 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.'
"The proposed services will add value to the digital television services provided by the Seven Network in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Queensland," said Professor David Flint, ABA Chairman.
Datacasting services can include electronic program guides, Internet content, electronic mail, information services, educational programs, interactive computer games, text or still images, and advertising or sponsorship material.
"The ABA expects that the appeal and value of digital television services generally will be further enhanced as new datacasting services start to become available over the next year or so through digital television receivers and set-top-boxes," Professor Flint said.
To contact the Seven Network, please call Ms Bridget Godwin, Manager Regulatory and Business Affairs, on (02) 9877 7527.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ABA Manager Media and PR, on (02) 9334 7980.
A datacasting service is broadly defined as a service that delivers content in the form of text, data, speech, music or other sounds or visual images (or in any form or combination of forms) to persons with appropriate reception equipment, when the delivery of the service uses the broadcasting services bands.
Similar services delivered outside the broadcasting services bands are not regulated as datacasting services.
The definition of datacasting is wide enough to include the delivery of radio and television programs. However, datacasters face restrictions on providing the kinds, or 'genres', of programs and audio content commonly regarded as traditional television or radio programming.
Any person wishing to provide a datacasting service, including commercial and national broadcasters, must hold a datacasting licence.
Only Australian companies, the national broadcasters, Government bodies or a body corporate established under Australian law for a public purpose may hold a datacasting licence.
Datacasting licence conditions
Datacasters are subject to television program genre restrictions and audio content restrictions that are designed to encourage them to provide a range of services that are different from traditional broadcasting services.
The types of programs caught by the genre conditions include, drama, sports, music, infotainment or lifestyle, documentary and 'reality television'. These are called Category A programs. There are also restrictions on Category B programs. These include news or current affairs programs, financial, market or business information bulletins and weather bulletins. However, there are some qualifications to the genre restrictions that allow datacasters to provide short extracts of Category A and B programs.
The audio content conditions are intended to prevent datacasters from transmitting matter that would be regarded as a traditional radio program.
Internet carriage services and ordinary electronic mail are not subject to the genre or audio conditions, although provisions have been included to prevent the use of Internet carriage services to avoid the genre or audio conditions. There are also provisions for exempting certain content copied from the Internet from the genre or audio conditions.
Datacasters will be able to provide some services without any restrictions. These include:
- information-only programs (including those enabling people to carry out transactions)
- educational programs
- interactive computer games
- Internet content
- electronic mail
- Parliamentary broadcasts
- content in the form of text or still images
- electronic program guides, and
- advertising or sponsorship material.
Other general conditions relating to content on datacasting services also apply. These can be found in clause 24 of Schedule 6 to the Broadcasting Services Act.
Other characteristics of datacasting licences
Datacasting licences have the following characteristics:
- they are issued without any entitlement to a transmitter licence
- they have no expiry date, ie they are issued in perpetuity
- there is no specified licence area within which the service has to be provided
- there are no foreign ownership restrictions or other restrictions on ownership and control of the licences
Datacasting transmitter licences
A datacasting transmitter licence allows the transmission of licensed datacasting services. Datacasting transmitter licences are a new form of apparatus licence issued under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and are allocated by the Australian Communications Authority through a price-based system. Datacasting transmitter licences will have a term of 10 years with the expectation of a single renewal of five years only. They cannot be controlled by a commercial television broadcaster or a national broadcaster. The datacasting licence and the datacasting transmitter licence may be held by different people.
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