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The Communications and the Arts portfolio is responsible for implementing government policy and programs with respect to digital technologies, communications services and public access to art and culture.
Read an overview of the Communication and the Arts portfolio including details of key activities, expenses and staffing levels. The audit focus section outlines the influences on the ANAO’s allocation of financial audit resources and the selection of performance audit topics and other activities. Also included is a list of material and non-material entities within the portfolio with their corresponding risk profile and key risks. Any risks that are considered key audit matters (KAMs) by the ANAO are separately identified.
This audit would examine the governance arrangements for the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS).
As Australia’s multicultural and multilingual national public broadcaster, SBS is responsible for contributing to a more cohesive, equitable and harmonious Australia through its television, radio and digital media services.
SBS is accountable to the Parliament through annual reports, corporate plans, financial and performance audits, and appearances before parliamentary committees. The SBS Board of Directors is responsible for deciding the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by SBS in performing its functions in a proper, efficient and economical manner. The board is guided by the SBS Charter, editorial policies and codes of practice.
This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Communications and the Arts and the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA’s) management of spectrum for 5G services. This may involve an assessment of the department’s management of the spectrum auction and ACMA’s framework to manage the ongoing licensing process.
The electromagnetic spectrum is a limited resource that needs to be managed effectively and efficiently for public and industry use. Most electronic devices, including smartphones, satellites, tablets, televisions, radio and radars rely on spectrum frequencies to carry information. Spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band is highly valuable, being recognised internationally as a key band for the rollout of 5G services.
The Australian Government is the largest holder of spectrum in Australia. The Government’s roles include regulation (by the ACMA), policy (the department) and use of spectrum — in February 2017, 36 Australian Government agencies were licensed to access spectrum across Australia.
This audit would examine the Department of Communications and the Arts and NBN Co Limited’s management of the migration of existing fixed-line telephone services to the national broadband network.
As the national broadband network is rolled out, there is an 18-month migration window that starts when NBN Co Limited declares a region ‘ready for service’. During the migration window, all voice, broadband and other services that operate on Telstra’s local access networks are to be migrated to services provided by NBN Co Limited. At the end of the migration window, the network service provider is required to disconnect all services on its local access networks. In 2017, there was an increase in complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman regarding national broadband network migration issues and connection speeds. This potential audit is one of a series of audits of NBN Co Limited and forms part of a performance audit strategy to be delivered over several years. As the migration process is substantial in scale and timeframes, the exact scope of this audit would be clarified closer to the point of commencement.
NBN Co Limited is a government business enterprise. The ANAO can conduct performance audits of government business enterprises where requested by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.
This audit would examine the design and implementation of assessment processes for Round 3 of the Mobile Black Spot Program by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
The Government has committed $220 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program to invest in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes, in small communities, and in a number of identified priority locations. The Government’s commitment is supported by co-contributions from state and local governments, mobile network operators (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone), businesses and local communities. Rounds 1 and 2 of the program have been completed and Round 3 (the priority round) commenced in 2017.
Auditor-General Report No. 10 of 2016–17, Award of Funding under the Mobile Black Spot Program, examined rounds 1 and 2 of the program and made three recommendations, which were accepted by the department. Round 3 (conducted in 2017) adopted a different assessment and evaluation process to the previous rounds, and the department has indicated that this new process may be used for future rounds of the program.