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Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
Unit 2 524-532 Parramatta Road, Petersham, NSW 2049
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.
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.