放送・通信融合 新たなルール整備が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 27, 2009)
New regulatory system needed for airwaves
放送・通信融合 新たなルール整備が必要だ(8月27日付・読売社説)

Through technological innovations, new types of services that are not covered by existing regulations targeting broadcast and communications services have emerged. To make such new "buds" part of the industry's growth strategy, related rules and regulations need to be reviewed.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's advisory panel on information and communications services has compiled a proposal to drastically review regulations on broadcast and communications services.

The proposal calls for reviewing the current regulatory categorization of services based on the type of operation, such as wired or wireless services, and instead recategorizing the services based on function, such as program production and radio transmission.

There are as many as nine major laws governing information and communications services. The laws include a number of regulations that do not match the actual situation. It therefore is of great significance to remove barriers between broadcast and communications services, eyeing the integration of those services.


Function key under plan

Under the envisaged new regulatory framework, there would be no distinction between communications and broadcast services. Services would instead be categorized into three areas--program contents offered to viewers; transmission infrastructure such as communications networks and transmitting stations; and transmission services for conveying information to viewers.

The regulations on radio waves, which separately target broadcast and communications services, would be relaxed so that broadcast stations could distribute their programs on cell phones and broadcast their programs via cell phone antennas.

By reforming regulatory categories so they are based on functions, it would become easier for broadcasters to operate their program production and transmission services in separate corporate entities. Local broadcasters would be able to improve management efficiency by jointly using transmission equipment. It also would be possible for outside businesses to enter the broadcasting services field by renting other companies' equipment.

An invigorated business environment would result in expanded and cheaper communications and broadcasting services. The industry should strive to create new services by putting consumers' interests first.

Some observers have pointed out that under the new regulatory framework it would be easier for the government to intervene in the content of programs, a situation that would threaten the independence of broadcasters.

The proposal says there would be no new regulations imposed on information on the Internet, and that editorial freedom in respect of broadcast programs would be stipulated under the law. It is essential to give due consideration to freedom of expression during the process of drafting related bills.


Fix administrative structure

The Democratic Party of Japan, in its policy pledges for the upcoming House of Representatives election, suggested that administration of broadcast and communications services be taken out of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's jurisdiction to prevent the government from intervening in broadcast services.

The main opposition party called for the creation of an independent administrative commission, modeled after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, to which administrative power would be devolved from the ministry. The DPJ apparently intends not only to revise the current regulations, but to reform administrative structures as well.

But transplanting a U.S. model alone would not ensure the smooth operation of broadcast and communications administrative services. What is necessary first and foremost is to review the current administrative structure that involves the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and a cabinet member whose portfolio includes information technology policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2009)
(2009年8月27日01時30分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-27 09:19 | 英字新聞

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