A suggestion in the Australian today that the Convergence Review is pretty much dead in the water:
After more than two years of work, discussion and politicking, the federal government’s Convergence Review appears all but dead.
After Communication Minister Stephen Conroy’s suicide bombing of his media reform package last month, Media understands the Coalition is unlikely to adopt any of the review’s recommendations as policy platforms before the September 14 election or if in government.
In many ways, this is a shame, as I wrote here. The IPA has been arguing for more than a decade that technological necessitated a radical rethink of media regulation and law. There is simply no way that the old regulations – minimum Australian content requirements, for instance – could be imposed on the fluid and global internet.
Certainly, the Convergence Review itself failed to fully deal with these challenges, and got hopelessly distracted by the government’s regulate-the-newspapers zeitgeist. But despite this, the concept of convergence was, and still is, the main game.
In the Sunday Age yesterday I argued that technological change doesn’t merely destroy industries, it destroys legal and regulatory constructs. I wrote that while economies can adapt to change, laws are more inflexible:
One of the advantages of a free market is how it is able to adapt. Absolutely, those adaptations aren’t always pretty. The shift from a manufacturing to a service economy has been traumatic for some. When we can make custom industrial products in our own home, what happens to all the companies and workers doing that now? Yet we’ve been through this sort of rapid industrial change many times. And we always end up more prosperous.
Legal systems are not as flexible as the market. Politicians are backward-looking. Only this year was the classification system fixed to properly account for video games. Our laws haven’t caught up with the internet. Legislators have no idea what to do about music and movie piracy – our copyright laws are routinely ignored.
(At Catallaxy the IPA’s Julie Novak has some further thoughts.)
The examples I used in the column were Bitcoin and 3D printing, but the failure of the Convergence Review – surely one of the most ambitious government inquiries in recent years – demonstrates the point well.
The Australian government hasn’t even faced up to the challenges of the internet yet. How will they be able to deal with the bigger, more disruptive innovations around the corner?