Commission consults on content regulation and digital radio

Published On:Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Communications Commission is inviting written responses to its proposals for regulating broadcast content and a strategy for digital radio on the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man’s high-quality communications networks and services remain key to the Island’s competitive edge and economic growth. With the undertaking of a strategic review of communications, the Communications Commission is seeking to bring the regulation of these networks and services up to date, and to make it fit for current and future technological developments.

As part of this strategic review, a report was commissioned to assess the future needs for radio and TV (audiovisual) content regulation on the Island, as well as the possible options – and the Island’s best choice from these – in establishing a policy on digital radio. This report, published today together with the consultation, makes the following conclusions about radio and TV content and its regulation on the Isle of Man:

  • With the coming of recent technological advances (such as the growing availability of quality audio and audiovisual material over the internet) the regulatory framework needs to be re-structured to deal with the issues brought up by this ongoing and inevitable shift.
  • In addition, with the development of digital radio services in neighbouring and other nations, the Island needs to decide on a strategic position with regard to digital radio, taking into account the lessons that may be learned from experiences elsewhere.

With these in mind, the report made the following recommendations, which are being consulted upon by the Commission: 

  • The Commission should be given specific powers to renew existing radio licences at the end of their term. A specific licence renewal process would provide more certainty for the industry, balancing the desire for listener choice with the necessity of maintaining the sector’s commercial viability.
  • While, Manx Radio is recognised as the Island’s public service broadcaster, and has public service obligations in its licence, more clarity on these responsibilities would help maintain value for money and the quality of public service content.
  • The introduction of a licensing or authorisation process for new TV services (such as on demand services available over the internet) tailored to the nature and demands of these emerging media
  • With the huge expansion of audiovisual (TV like) content available over the internet, it is no longer possible to regulate services using this technology in the traditional way. The Isle of Man therefore needs to develop a code-based system of self-regulation that consumers can have faith in, with the Commission retaining ultimate powers of supervision and intervention.
  • With the experiences of neighbouring countries with digital radio varying significantly, and the substantial financial commitment of developing such a network, a working group, involving Government, Broadcasters and the Commission should be set up to further monitor developments elsewhere before deciding on an appropriate strategy for the Isle of Man.

The Communications Commission is seeking comments from all interested parties on whether these are the right proposals for the future regulation of audio and audiovisual services on the Island.

Responses to the consultation will inform the development of the Island’s content regulation and audiovisual services.

This consultation can be viewed online. Following the closing date, all responses will be considered. This will help inform the more detailed drafting of new legislation, which will be subject to a further consultation.