Oz watchdog taps Chapman topper

Aussie gov group gets new leader

After a seven-month search, government watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority has appointed Chris Chapman as its inaugural topper.

Chapman, who starts at ACMA on Feb. 27, presently heads specialist funds division Babcock & Brown and was previously topper of Film Australia and an exec at the Seven Network.

He faces a busy time with many tipping 2006 as the year that Federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan finally announces a wide-ranging shake-up of the Aussie cross-media ownership laws.

Current laws allow companies to own two of the three media — TV, radio and print — in each city market, but that law is expected to be loosened.

“We are pleased that the government has chosen someone with a strong broadcasting background as well as legal and telecommunications experience to lead the newly merged regulator,” said Julie Flynn, topper of commercial TV lobby group Free TV Australia.

Formed in July last year from the ashes of the old Australian Communications Authority and Australian Broadcasting Authority, ACMA has been headed by acting chair Lyn Maddock since it began. Maddock will continue as deputy chairman.

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