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Research program

Our research provides evidence that informs our decisions. It helps us to better understand communications and media markets and the issues that matter to Australian consumers.

Purpose

The ACMA has statutory obligations to report to, and advise, the Minister for Communications, Cybersafety and the Arts, as well as to inform industry and the public in relation to telecommunications, radiocommunications, broadcasting and some online services. The ACMA’s research program assists in meeting our statutory obligations and supports making regulatory decisions informed by evidence.

This program provides the strategic context for our research activities for the 2020 to 2021 financial year and is aligned to the ACMA’s Corporate plan 2020–21. Updates to the program will occur as our research requirements evolve in accordance with changing external and organisational priorities.

Legislative basis for our research

This research focus assists us to fulfil the regulatory functions outlined in the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 (the ACMA Act) and legislation related to our telecommunications, radiocommunications, broadcasting and online content functions.

Strategic context for research

The ACMA Corporate plan 2020–21 Corporate Plan identifies the major changes we expect will shape our environment over the next four years. This includes:
 

  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the media and communications environment, which will see:
    • increased reliance on telecommunications service providers
    • increased reliance on digital platforms
    • ongoing environmental impacts that require us to remain responsive and adaptable when supporting industry and consumers
  • long-term structural changes to traditional media and communications industries in response to competition with digital platforms
  • changing consumer behaviour and expectations in response to increasing interconnectivity, mobility and data-sharing
  • the impact of digital platforms on the news industry
  • the spread of misinformation
  • breaches to the privacy of consumers
  • foreign interference via social media
  • demand for data-driven technologies redefining how individuals and businesses engage with each other
  • an increasing need for greater collaboration between international regulators
  • international trends driving demand for spectrum. This includes:
    • the appetite for wireless broadband, particularly 5G services
    • ongoing commercialisation of IoT applications
    • advances in broadcasting technology
    • rapid innovations in satellite technologies and services.

In this context, the ACMA research program considers how current and future developments in the communications and media landscape will impact public interest outcomes and our regulatory role.

Our research program ensures that we are well informed as a regulator, so we can assess whether and how to intervene when issues arise.

Research and data collection

The ACMA seeks to be trusted by the Australian community as an expert, independent and effective regulator operating in the public interest, with research and data used as an evidence base for decision making and to ensure we are up to date on market developments and consumer trends.

The ACMA commissions independent market research agencies to undertake consumer surveys on consumption of media and communication services, and other related topics as required. Data is also sourced through third-party data subscriptions to gain broader insights and for trend analysis.

The ACMA gathers intelligence and insights to understand the markets we regulate and industry characteristics. Information is gathered from a range of secondary sources with reference to current literature and the implementation of relevant regulation in other jurisdictions through reviews and audits. Analysis of data from third-party tools is also conducted.

The data gathered by the ACMA from statutory media and communications industry reporting and monitoring of industry compliance with obligations and rules is also used to report on matters relating to the communications industry, including performance.

As part of a multi-disciplinary approach to regulatory analysis, the ACMA also draws on economic, engineering and legal expertise.

 

Planned research projects

2020–21 research projects

What the project will deliver

Telecommunications consumer experience research

Report on consumer expectations and experience with use of telecommunications (voice and internet) services.

ACMA communications and media ‘data hub’

Series of digital reports that provide trend data from the Communications report* and the annual consumer survey.

Annual consumer survey

Quantitative consumer research that provides time-series tracking of patterns of consumer communications and media use. This research considers:

  • consumer behaviour

  • adoption of and attitudes towards media and communications services

  • emerging issues.

Research snapshots

Digital lives of Australians (older/younger).

Audience views/expectations surrounding classification in a multi-platform environment.

Additional research snapshot publications will be considered as part of the communications and media data hub project.

Unsolicited communications

A study of consumer experience of unsolicited communications (including scam activity over telco networks) and related harms. 

This project will update the unsolicited communications research conducted in early 2018, and explore some related issues. It will assist the ACMA to:

  • understand whether the regulatory settings for unsolicited communications reflect market and consumer expectations

  • measure the effectiveness of outcomes from its Scam Technology Project (including changes around consumer awareness and attitudes towards—or impacts of—scams).

*On 12 December 2019, the Telecommunications Act was amended by the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Act 2019. This removed the reporting requirement for most matters listed in section 105. Following this repeal, there is no longer a statutory obligation to prepare and table the Communications report in Parliament.

 

The ACMA also undertakes research that informs our internal planning and papers for public consultation. To understand how we have used research to inform our work and for your opportunity to contribute, please subscribe to our bulletin or follow us on social media.

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