Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (accan) Future Consumer Emerging Consumer Issues in Telecommunications and Convergent Communications and Media

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Australian Communications
Consumer Action Network


Future Consumer

Emerging Consumer Issues in Telecommunications and Convergent Communications and Media

Ryan Sengara, Sal Humphreys, Jock Given, Marion McCutcheon and Claire Milne

Published in 2009

© 2009 Australian Communications Consumer Action Network

All rights reserved. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a maximum of 10 per cent of the report to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network

Unit 2 524-532 Parramatta Road, Petersham, NSW 2049

Telephone: +612 957 26007



ISBN 978 0 9806659 0 1

Produced by Susan Jarvis, Quest Publishing Services, Brisbane

Printed by CS Digital Print, Unit 1/1472 Boundary Road, Wacol, Qld 4076

This project was funded by the Commonwealth government through the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) as part of its support for the establishment of ACCAN.



1. About the report 1

1.1. A scoping study 1

1.2. About the researchers 1

1.3. Acknowledgments 2

1.4. Key findings 2

2. Introduction 5

2.1. The growing importance of information and communications technology 5

2.2. Internet-based, mobile and interactive: The technology horizon 6

2.3. A window of opportunity for consumer advocacy 8

2.4. References 9

3. Telecommunications and mobiles case study 11

3.1. Summary 11

3.2. Consumer protection and policy arrangements 14

3.3. Information provision and decision-making 20

3.4. Availability of high-quality communications services 25

3.5. Accessibility of communications and media technologies 30

3.6. Inclusion and integration to lifestyle 34

3.7. Relationships with service providers 39

3.8. Security and privacy 43

3.9. Consuming, creating and using content 46

3.10. ICTs and the environment 50

3.11. References 52

3.12. Appendixes 57

4. Internet case study 62

4.1. Convergence and the productive consumer 62

4.2. Copyright and intellectual property 64

4.3. Privacy 67

4.4. Trust, risk management and transactions 72

4.5. Contracts 73

4.6. Social and cultural capital: Access and rights 74

4.7. Content regulation 76

4.8. Global environments 80

4.9. Internet consumer organisations 81

4.10. Conclusion 87

4.11. References 89

5. Broadcasting case study 91

5.1. Executive Summary 92

5.2. Broadcasting now 95

5.3. Emerging consumer issues 103

5.4. What can ACCAN do? 125

5.5. References 126

5.6. Appendixes 130

6. Affordability case study 144

6.1. Introduction 144

6.2. Overview of trends 144

6.3. Foundations 145

6.4. International bodies 148

6.5. The European Union 158

6.6. The United States 161

6.7. South Africa 163

6.8. The United Kingdom 165

6.9. References 168

6.10. Appendixes 171

7. Conclusions: Converging consumer advocacy 178

8. Acronyms 180

1.About the report

1.1.A scoping study

This report was commissioned by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) as part of its mandate to conduct research on matters related to Australian communications consumers. Future Consumer is a scoping study which aims to inform ACCAN’s strategic direction and the wider policy arena by:

  • identifying key emerging issues for consumers in telecommunications and the converging communications and media environment;

  • analysing current or future policy models and service options to address these issues, including possible partnerships and advocacy strategies;

The report consists of four case studies: Telecommunications and Mobiles; The Internet; Broadcasting; and Affordability. Though the breadth of the report is wide, there is great value in the originality of pulling together and beginning to cross-reference consumer issues and expertise across areas of converging communications and media that traditionally have been segmented.

In their approach to the studies, the researchers conducted literature reviews of policy and best practice in Australia and internationally, conducted stakeholder and expert interviews, and conducted a half-day consumer workshop in Sydney on 21 May 2009. The research team was counselled by a committee consisting of members of the ACCAN board, government, academia and industry. A notable constraint of this project was an abbreviated timeline that prompted a focus on identifying top-level issues. Comprehensive research is recommended across the issue areas prioritised by ACCAN.

1.2.About the researchers

Ryan Sengara is an independent researcher who previously has worked at the Consumers’ Telecommunications Network, the former peak communications consumer body. Ryan has also worked in research in the University of Sydney’s Media and Communications Department and in the private sector. He holds a Master of Arts (Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney) and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University in Canada. Ryan is lead researcher and the author of the Telecommunications and Mobiles study.

Sal Humphreys works as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Adelaide. Her main research interests lie in the areas of digital media, social networking sites and online games. She has worked for three years as an ARC Post-doctoral Fellow on a community media and the Internet project and has an abiding interest in the organisation of the rights of users in online environments. Sal is the author of the Internet study.

Jock Given is Professor of Media and Communications at Swinburne University’s Institute for Social Research and author of Turning Off the Television: Broadcasting’s Uncertain Future (UNSW Press, 2003). He was previously Director of the Communications Law Centre and Policy Adviser at the Australian Film Commission. In 1996–97, he chaired a review of universal service arrangements in Australia. Jock is a co-author of the Broadcasting study.

Marion McCutcheon is a communications economist and policy analyst who has worked for the Australian Broadcasting Authority, the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and the Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics. Marion is a co-author of the Broadcasting study.

Claire Milne is an independent consultant based in London who has worked for many years at the interface of consumer affairs and telecommunications policy. She is also a Visiting Fellow at media@LSE and Chair of Ofcom’s Consumer Forum for Communications. Along with other aspects of universal service and universal access, affordability of telecommunications (in both developing and developed countries) has been a long-standing special interest. Claire is the author of the Affordability study.

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