AbstractThis editorial introduces the August 2012 issue of TJA, and celebrates the achievements of the late Dick Butler AM, former Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, amongst others.
The 2012 Charles Todd Oration
Chris Chapman, Chairman and CEO of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), will deliver the TSA's 2012 Charles Todd Oration in Sydney at lunchtime on Thursday 30 August.
The ACS Telecommunications Society of Australia has been holding the Charles Todd Oration, named after the magnificent organiser of the Australian Overland Telegraph project of 1870-2, as the TSA's major annual industry networking event since the 1980s, to provide a platform for the industry's leading 'movers and shakers'. Recent Charles Todd Orators have been Mike Quigley, head of NBN Co, in 2010 and David Thodey, head of Telstra, in 2011.
Those of us who remember Mike Quigley's brilliant Oration on the NBN project, three days before the crucial 2010 federal election that decided the NBN's fate, are confidently expecting that Chris Chapman will be prepared to publicly respond to the Final Report of the Convergence Review, one of whose controversial recommendations calls for the creation of a new regulator for the media and communications industries ? which of course include telecommunications and broadcasting as well as the print media amongst their converging strands.
Richard Edmund (Dick) Butler AM
While a sad occasion for Dick Butler?s family and friends, his death in Melbourne on 23 June 2012 at age 86 provides an occasion for the telecommunications industry to celebrate the life and career of this remarkable man. Dick was the first Australian to head a United Nations agency, in this case the International Telecommunications Union from 1983 to 1989. Such high level appointments have been rare for Australians: Francis Gurry's appointment to head the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2008 is one of the few other examples. Dick had in fact been the highest ranking Australian on the UN staff since 1968, when he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the ITU, until his retirement in 1989. He made a point of personally welcoming many of the Australians who were sent to the technical standards-developing meetings of the ITU, the CCITT Study Group meetings, in Geneva.
The position of Secretary-General of the ITU is elected by the ITU's member nations, and it is known that a key factor in Dick's election to the top job in 1983 was his known commitment as Deputy Secretary (1968-83) to championing extending the benefits of affordable telecommunciations infrastructure to Third World countries. In 1988 he was voted the world's most influential telecommunications leader by the global industry. As his son Brendan said at Dick's funeral, this was a remarkable feat for a former telegram delivery boy ? that being his first job, in 1941, with the Australian Postmaster General?s Department.
After the war, he returned to work at the PMG and completed a public administration diploma at night at the Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT University). He progressed through the ranks of the PMG to Chief Industrial Officer and from there by 1968 to Assistant Director General, before being seconded to the ITU.
After his retirement at age 63 from the ITU, Dick became involved in several initiatives aimed at extending satellite-based communications across South East Asia, and was an advisor to several governments, international agencies and corporations, as well as being appointed Chairman of two entrepreneurial companies in this sector, Airspace and Sky Station Australia. His colleagues have quoted him as having a particular interest in using low orbiting satellites and low cost receivers as a platform for education, health, capacity and community building in underdeveloped and remote communities, as well as supporting early warning and response systems for threats like tsunamis and the Ebola virus.
A much more comprehensive obituary for Dick Butler, contributed by his son Gerard Butler and son-in-law Mark Hoven, was published on 16 July in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Interview with Malcolm Long
The interview in this August edition of the TJA follows on from the previous special June edition of the journal, focussed on the recommendations of the Australian Government's Convergence Review, for which Malcolm Long was a member of the three-person Committee.
Malcolm Long has a distinguished history of participation in the broadcasting industry. In this interview, Liz Fell asks important questions, including the implications of the review for the telecommunications industry. The interview will be of great interest to all those who care about the future of media regulation, including the possible adoption of a 'public interest' test for media ownership, and what that might mean for media diversity in practice. The interview also includes interesting comments relating to the necessary 'restacking' of spectrum in the broadcasting services bands resulting from the digital transition.
While the Australian Greens have introduced a broadcasting bill into Parliament that incorporates a public interest test for new media licences, at the time of writing this editorial, the government's response to the Convergence Review remains 'opaque'. Much policy work still obviously needs to be done in this area before the Government and the Opposition develop viable media and communications policies to take to the next election.
This special issue of TJA on ISP liability
The TJA Editorial Board is grateful to Associate Professor David Lindsay from Monash Law School for his role as Guest Editor of this issue, in sourcing and helping manage the independent reviewing of such a comprehensive set of expert articles ? including his own contribution ? dealing with the implications of the Australian iiNet and Optus TV Now judicial decisions for ISPs and popular content providers; and with related issues concerning the liabilities of other Internet 'intermediaries' ? such as banks and domain name registries ? as a consequence of potential legislation in the USA and elsewhere.
We congratulate Dr Lindsay ? and TJA author Dr Kimberlee Weatherall, Associate Professor at the Sydney Law School ? in being recently appointed as expert advisors on copyright reform to the Australian Law Reform Commission.
iiNet becomes major sponsor of the TSA
And speaking of ISPs ? and of the winner in this year's historical legal battle between the 'content industry' and the Internet Service Providers, fought all the way to to the High Court ? TJA is delighted to announce that iiNet, Australia's third largest ISP (by customer numbers), has become a Silver Sponsor of the ACS Telecommunications Society of Australia, and hence a most welcome financial supporter of this Journal.
iiNet joins the other leading 'corporate citizens' of the Australian telecomunications industry ? leading service providers Telstra and Optus, equipment vendors NEC and Alcatel-Lucent, and national research organisations CSIRO and NICTA ? in supporting the industry-wide 'learned society' and networking activities of the TSA and its journal TJA.
Cite this article as: Gerrand, Peter. 2012. 'Some people to celebrate'. Telecommunications Journal of Australia 62 (4): 50.1-50.3. Available from: http://tsa.org.au.