Telecommunications and Media
According to the Australian government, 37 percent (2.7 million) of all Australian households had Internet access in 2000, and 56 percent (4 million) of households had access to a computer at home. A 2004 survey by the Australian government found total Internet subscribers numbered more than 5.7 million, including 1.3 million broadband. Australia had 687 Internet service providers as of September 2004. In 2003, 14.3 million mobile phones and 10.8 million telephone main lines were in use in Australia. In 2004 Australians owned 7.3 million televisions; 99 percent of households owned at least one television set. Australian homes and vehicles also had 38 million radios.
Australia's mass media are independent of the government and enjoy freedom of the press. In an October 2003 survey, the international group Reporters without Borders rated Australia fiftieth in the world in terms of press freedom. On July 1, 2005, the Australian government's Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) assumed responsibility from predecessor organizations for regulating the mass media. ACMA is responsible for enforcing the Broadcasting Services Act of 1992, which prohibits the excessive concentration of media ownership and promotes community standards.
The Australian is the only national broadsheet newspaper. Other prominent newspapers include The Age, which is published in Melbourne, and the Sydney Morning Herald. Major national magazines include New Dawn and News Weekly. Several other publications, including the Australian Financial Review, focus on financial news and analysis. Australia has three national commercial television networks-Nine Network, Seven Network, and Network Ten-and two public television broadcasters: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). There are 50 regional or local commercial television stations, plus two major cable television networks. ABC and SBS also manage radio networks. Australia has 272 commercial radio stations.
Although the constitution does not explicitly provide for freedom of speech or of the press, the High Court has held that a right to freedom of expression is implied in the constitution, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of speech and of the press.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Internet access was widely available and widely used by citizens.
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