Robert Picard (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) gave the keynote to open the debates at the IIC’s Telecommunications and Media Forum (TMF) in Sydney. Noting that several rationales may underpin policymaking in communications, he compared the regulatory settings in Australia, the UK and the US. In all three countries, policies are driven by opportunities to develop industries and services, and by the desire to maintain dominant social arrangements. The main regulatory agencies are independent and funded through regulatory fees and spectrum auctions, with a high degree of involvement with the industry players. However, they differ in size (the FCC being the largest with 1,600 employees, followed by Ofcom in the UK with 800 and the Australian Communications and Media Authority, ACMA, in Australia with 400) and the geographies they preside over. Regulation is preferred to other policies, like incentives, or the promotion of good behaviour, which should receive much more attention. Greater connections across overlapping agencies (antitrust, industry development) is also increasingly important. Policymaking ought to be principles-based, and while technology is important, harnessing and directing technologies for the use of collective benefit has to be the primary objective.
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