Transmission using the internet

19.31 In the Discussion Paper, the ALRC proposed that a range of broadcast exceptions should also apply to the transmission of television or radio programs using the internet. The ALRC also asked how such amendments should be framed. [31]

19.32 A number of stakeholders agreed, in principle, that the scope of some broadcast exceptions should extend to transmission on the internet, as well as to broadcasts as currently defined.[32]

19.33 The Internet Industry Association observed that the current situation is anomalous because the streaming of ‘live or pre-programmed’ material over the internet is effectively the same as broadcasting.[33] Ericsson Australia noted that

consumers are often not aware (nor do they care) if content they watch is broadcast, multicast to a selected group, or unicast to an individual. Further, with the recent introduction of Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HBBTV) into Europe and planned introduction into the Australian market, any distinctions between delivery platforms will be increasingly obscure to the end consumer.[34]

19.34 Ericsson suggested that exceptions should extend to any delivery platform and ‘be framed without technology specificity, in order to future-proof and support on-going technological innovation’.

19.35 The ABC submitted that exceptions should be reframed to extend to transmissions using the internet, including on demand programs, but only where content is made available by a broadcaster.[35] CRA stated that it was seeking a new ministerial determination to ensure that internet simulcasts (by broadcasting services) are treated as broadcasts. This position, CRA said, would ‘properly reflect the current use of technology by media consumers and the trend towards platform neutrality’.[36]

19.36 In contrast, the PPCA stated that voluntary licensing arrangements make it unnecessary to extend the existing broadcast exceptions to the delivery of television and radio programs using the internet. The PPCA has licensed ‘a range of new internet services as well as offering internet rights to traditional broadcasters’.[37] Similarly, the ACC referred to voluntary licensing frameworks already in place and supporting the ‘large number of internet radio and television services already operating in the Australian market’.[38]

19.37 Other stakeholders also opposed any extension of the broadcast exceptions.[39] Nightlife, a provider of music to commercial venues, expressed concern that extending the broadcast exceptions would ‘further reduce the ability of creators to leverage an income, while commercial companies turnover billions of dollars on the use of their works’.[40]

19.38 COMPPS expressed concern that including internet transmissions would extend the broadcast exceptions from ‘applying only to a limited and identifiable category of persons to potentially anyone in the world’, with significant communications law and policy consequences. If the exceptions were extended, however, COMPPS and other sporting bodies considered they should apply only to ‘internet transmission by licensed broadcasters of a linear feed of the programming broadcast by that broadcaster’.[41]

19.39 The following section examines particular categories of broadcast exceptions and considers the possible extension of these exceptions to internet transmissions or other forms of communication to the public.