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Holding Redlich is a leading provider of innovative, high quality and responsive legal advice and solutions to the Australian communications sector


The communications sector, encompassing telecommunications, media and digital technologies, is constantly evolving and changing.  In Australia, reflecting global trends, changes in the communications sector include the rapid merging of content and communications technologies, the emergence of online platforms opening up a global marketplace and the ever increasing availability of over-the-top (OTT) services. Australians have embraced these changes with enthusiasm, with the average Australian spending an increasing amount of time online, using social media, reading the news and sending emails, amongst other activities.  Australians also have an ever increasing number of interconnected devices, with estimates that most Australian homes now have 8 or 9 interconnected devices.  And we are only at the beginning of the evolution that will be created by the Internet of Things, the advent of 5G and the emergence of, amongst other technologies, virtual reality and bots. 

This evolution creates exciting opportunities to innovate business models, provide differentiated products, access new markets and enhance customer service.  But it also brings with it risks.  Businesses need knowledgeable and commercially astute lawyers to work with them to stay ahead in this complex environment and to assist them in overcoming obstacles – providing cutting edge advice, guidance and solutions across a broad range of areas, including regulatory and competition law advice, M&A, JV and strategic partnership structuring and negotiations, data protection, privacy and cybersecurity advice, protection of intellectual property and dispute resolution.  At Holding Redlich, our highly experienced lawyers combine our knowledge of the law with our experience of the Australian regulatory environment, our relationships with Government agencies and regulators and our commercial acumen to assist our clients to achieve their outcomes.  We are experienced in advising all types of businesses in the communications sector, from start-ups to well established companies, recognising the different needs of each business.   

Our demonstrated history of achieving successful outcomes for clients in this sector reflects our expertise in the following areas:

Broadcasting and content

Broadcasting and content delivery (across films, free-to-air television, subscription television and all types of online content) is heavily regulated in Australia with, to date, limited regulatory change to reflect changing business models and consumer behaviour. 

We have expertise in working with the two regulators, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).  We have successfully handled interactions with these regulators on behalf of our clients, including in obtaining approvals and consents required for the operation of their businesses.  We are also able to work with you to resolve regulatory disputes in a measured and appropriate way. 

In addition to our regulatory expertise and experience in advising on compliance with relevant laws, regulations and codes, Holding Redlich has extensive transactional experience, including in advising on structuring and negotiating M&A transactions and strategic alliances and content arrangements.

Anticipated changes to Australia’s media control and ownership laws, as contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), may bring increased M&A activity in this area.  We can assist you in structuring transactions and navigating any required competition law issues and approvals, including with respect to the soon to be updated ACCC Media Merger Guidelines.

Although we are able to assist in minimising the likelihood of litigation, we have also successfully acted for our clients in this area in legal proceedings at all levels of the Australian court systems.

We also provide expert advice to publishers, advertising agencies and advertisers on the issues relevant to the communication of content to the public, including consumer law, copyright, defamation and the advertising industry codes.  Our clients include some of Australia’s largest and most successful advertising agencies and marketing consultancies and our services for them include providing training for their staff and establishing compliance programs.

Consumer protection

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is the cornerstone of Australia’s consumer protection regulation, including in the areas of advertising and marketing law.  The ACL also has extensive application to general commercial dealings and transactions.  The Telecommunications Act also imposes consumer protection obligations on telecommunications retail service providers, including through the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, which is in place under Part 6 of that Act.

Holding Redlich regularly advises on consumer protection laws, including in establishing compliance regimes and providing structuring and contractual advice.  We have in-depth experience in handling consumer law disputes, navigating the misleading and deceptive conduct provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act and in dealing with the primary Australian consumer law regulator, the ACCC.

Data, privacy and cybersecurity

The effective collection, protection and use of data is critical in the communications sector.  Australia has a complex regulatory regime in this area, which continues to change.  Regulation is contained not only in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), but also in the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth), the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth) and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) as well as other legislation, regulations and codes.

Holding Redlich has extensive experience enabling it to assist clients in putting in place compliance processes and systems to collect, protect and use data (both personal data and broader categories of business related information) in compliance with these laws and to mitigate the broader risks in this area.  We are able to undertake audits to ensure that your systems comply with all relevant regulations and best practice.  We provide solutions that optimise commercial outcomes for you, including in structuring contractual regimes for the transfer, licensing and analysis of data and other information.  We are able to work seamlessly with your other technical experts. 

We can assist you to implement strategies to minimise adverse outcomes if things do go wrong, including to manage reputational issues, protect your confidential information and to help you navigate regulatory requirements, including the new mandatory data breach notification scheme to be implemented under the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 (Cth).

We will proactively work with you in dealing with relevant regulators, including the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Defamation

Defamation in Australia is governed by substantially uniform legislation in each State and Territory as well as the common law.  Holding Redlich is experienced in advising publishers and broadcasters on defamation issues and in acting for plaintiffs and defendants in defamation proceedings.

Information technology

Our IT clients include vendors and purchasers across a broad range of industries, e-tailers, Government departments and agencies and technology users of all types and sizes. 

We are experts in drafting and advising on agreements for IT services (including cloud-based services) and for the licensing, maintenance and support of software, including the provision of online applications and hosting services.  Our lawyers apply their extensive legal and industry knowledge to ensure that contractual arrangements and structures protect our clients and achieve their desired commercial outcomes.  Our transaction experience includes large and complex system implementation and integration structuring arrangements. 

We also provide strategic advice to clients regarding IT and project-related disputes and we are experienced in resolving disputes as efficiently as possible through negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation.

 

Screen production, distribution and finance

Our list of production credits on major local and international film and television projects is extensive and impressive.  We have acted for and advised a significant proportion of Australia’s screen producers, broadcasters and government agencies, including Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Film Victoria, Screen Queensland, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Australian Film Television and Radio School and the National Film and Sound Archive.

Telecommunications services

Telecommunications infrastructure encompasses not only physical networks but – for mobile and wireless networks - spectrum, a key enabler of communications services.  We can help you navigate the complex, and changing, regulatory regime for operation and access to networks and licensing of spectrum.

We can assist you to obtain any necessary licences required for your business and to comply, in the delivery of retail telecommunications services, with the requirements of the Telecommunications Act and the numerous codes and regulations under that legislation.

Our experts are able to structure and negotiate relevant contractual arrangements, including for peering, data and call centres and colocation agreements.

 

Recent experience

  • Acting for Southern Cross Austereo in the Today FM royal "prank" call case, including in regulatory investigations in Australia and the UK and in Federal Court and High Court proceedings against ACMA.  This highly complex and sensitive matter involved the provision of strategic advice on legal and regulatory issues as well as crisis management.
  • Acting for a major digital music distribution company, including in establishing a joint venture, the creation of a music streaming service, the supply of digital audio programming, preparing content licences and customer terms and conditions, the development of digital apps and, ultimately, advising on the sale of the company.
  • Providing advice to international clients on Australian regulation governing the collection and use of data, including in the creation of derivative statistical and risk assessment products.
  • Acting for Fairfax Media in successfully defending Federal Court proceedings brought by a rival publisher alleging misuse of market power and anti-competitive conduct.
  • Advising a private equity fund in the divestment of the magazine publishing group nextmedia to a German-based media conglomerate.
  • Acting for the shareholders of an Australian advertising agency in respect of its acquisition by a US communications group.
  • Acting for Southern Cross Austereo in the divestiture of two regional Queensland radio stations, including the preparation of all commercial documentation and dealings with ACMA.
  • Providing competition law advice to a global manufacturer and distributor of physical media products relating to proposed acquisitions, including obtaining necessary merger approvals from the ACCC.
  • Acting for the Privacy Commissioner in high-profile merits review proceedings in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal regarding a determination that a global crowdsourcing marketplace operator had breached the Privacy Act.
  • Providing advice to a producer and distributor of educational video content and supplier of a cloud-based educational content platform on various issues, including international licensing and distribution arrangements and intellectual property protection.
  • Advising a major retail centre manager in an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner regarding use of closed circuit television cameras at its managed facilities and assisting that client to upgrade its privacy policies and procedures.
  • Providing privacy law advice to a statutory regulator and defending appeals concerning alleged breach of privacy laws.
  • Acting for a television network in connection with a strategic partnership with an international media company for the licensing of content and co-branding of television and online channels.
  • Advising on compliance with the credit reporting provisions of the Privacy Act and the development of product and data sharing agreements to comply with the Privacy Act.
  • Acting for Systems Advisers Group, a global provider of IT business support systems, in various matters arising from the appointment of voluntary administrators to its Australian subsidiary, including advising on IT contracts and the establishment of a new business entity and defending claims alleging breach of contract.
  • Acting for Fremantle Media Australia in NSW court proceedings commenced by a high-profile performer alleging breach of contract and misleading or deceptive conduct.
  • Acting for a number of clients in defamation proceedings, including where the defamatory imputations have been published on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.
  • Providing advertising clearance advice for a number of Australian advertising agencies, including advising on the changes necessary to global product advertising for a multinational technology company.
  • Advising a retail franchisor on privacy law compliance issues for its franchisees, including in respect of its communication strategy and end user loyalty program documentation and processes.
  • Acting for all levels of Government (local, State and Federal) in preparing privacy, right to information and data security contractual provisions.
  • Advising an insurer on various privacy issues around the use of cloud providers for the storage of sensitive information and preparing appropriate contractual provisions to protect the insurer.
  • Acting for the producers of Mad Max Fury Road, Happy Feet 2, Knowing, Sanctum, Deepsea Challenge, Oranges and Sunshine, The Sapphires and Cleverman.

 

Key People

Dan Pearce | Melbourne
Kathryn Howard | Melbourne
Ian Robertson | Sydney
Greg Wrobel | Sydney
Angela Flannery | Sydney
Paul Venus | Brisbane
Trent Taylor | Brisbane


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