Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where is the BTCE when you need it?

I was grabbing a couple of volumes off my bookcase this morning. Both were reports by the former Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics. (One was report 64 - the cost of Telecom's Community Services Obligations, the other was report 89 - the communications futures report). What was originally just the bureau of Transport Economics morphed into BTCE with the Hawke Government mega-ministries.

Three things decimated research capability in communications. First was the split between comms and transport. (Transport still has the bureau in BITRE). Secondly the Howard Government centalised research into the Productivity Commission. Thirdly a few other research activities got outsourced (e.g ACMA and ACCC reports on the economic value of competition reforms).

For the record here is a list of BTCE reports on communications I found in the NLA catalogue;

Interconnection Pricing Principles
International telecommunications: an Australian perspective"
Communications Research Forum Papers
Communications Research Forum Papers 1994
Communications Research Forum Papers 1993
Australian commercial television 1986-95: structure and performance
Elements of broadcasting economics
Transport and Communications Indicators: Quarterly review of activity
Measuring community benefits of Australian TV programs
Management of radiocommunications frequency: an economic analysis
Demand projections for Australian telecommunications services and equipment to Asia by 2010
Short term forecasting of transport and communications activity
Telecommunications in Australia
Broadcasters and market behaviour
Economic effects of commercial TV aggregation on commercial radio in regional areas
The Australian telecommunications market; ewhen does dominance cease
Communications services in Australia
Cultural regulation of Australian TV programs
Research in Communications Economics in Australia
Elasticities of demand for telephone services
Valuation of commercial broadcasting licences
Australian content on Pay TV
Evaluation of the transitional period in Australian telecommunications
Interconnection pricing principles: a review of the economic literature
Residential demand for broadband services
Film and television co-production in Australia
Economic aspects of broadcasting regulation
Quality of service: conceptual issues and telecommunications case study
Demand projections for Australian telecommunications services and equipment to Asia by 2010: an update
Telecommunications Reform in Australia

That is an impressive array, more recent versions of which would help the convergence review.

Meanwhile one has to laugh that the Liberals who gutted the BTCE now want the PC to do a cost benefit analysis on the NBN. The old BTCE did one on the Costs and benefits of a single Australasian aviation market. But I can find no evidence that the PC has ever done one.

A CBA on Country of Origin Labelling was done for them by the CIE, other reports on medical technology, on pharmaceuticals, copyright, and the National Reform Agenda talk of costs and benefits but do not do a CBA.

The closest the PC ever comes is to lecture others on the need for CBAs.

If someone wants an economic advisory office on communications they need to build it first.

PS The PC did do reviews of each of Broadcasting, Radiocommunications and Telecommunications. Each review was more notable for the inaction by the coalition than anything else.

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