Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Monday, 14 May 2018

IPSO damages payments scheme

TBC, but clearly a big step up for IPSO, undermining a key argument against it...
Press Gazette.


on the TBC list, but for now (+ use the privacy tag):

Thomas Markle is the latest victim of the abusive relationship between press and palace


Privacy laws can be used by the rich + powerful to maintain secrecy over actions that may well be in the public interest to expose (though the red top approach that whatever the public is interested in is automatically in the public interest has commercial but not legal or ethical logic, and is clearly rejected by the Editors' Code, which limits the public interest defence to a few of its clauses).

Superinjunctions, to avoid even reporting on legal cases, such as that used by footballers Ryan Giggs and David Beckham (both rendered meaningless by widespread social media sharing) to try to hide news of affairs they have had, and in the Trafigura case to try and prevent The Guardian from reporting on pollution and the devestating social and health impact of this, are one level of this.

The most famous recent case, Max Moseley being reported as engaging in a Nazi-themed 'sex party' with escorts, with the Murdoch tabloids offering up free undercover video footage, was to found to lack any public interest in the courts - where the powerful are most likely to go, rather than PCC or IPSO. Injunctions seek to stop reporting before it happens (or the further repeating of already reported stories), the PCC/IPSO focus on POST-publication scrutiny (does an article breach the Editors' Code?).

Moseley's case is very well known, but he won damages at the high court for the breach of privacy. His position as a leader of autosports did not make his private antics a democratic issue! The reportage was simply to sell papers, not to make any meaningful contribution to public discourse.

The courts, especially with Tory government slashing of legal aid, are only really an option for the rich, however. The 2018 case of the Finsbury Park mosque leader who went to the courts AFTER going through the IPSO complaints process, and won £30,000 damages (libel, not privacy case) again indicates a higher level of protection available to those able to afford expensive legal fees.

****The newly announced IPSO arbitration scheme, which includes possible damages payments up to £60,000 and a capped complainant cost of just £100, is at the very least an attempt to address such concerns. See post.****

Moseley continues to get his revenge by funding Hacked Off and Impress.

The issue does often overlap with clauses on protecting children, notably the Toploader guitarist/celebrity wife case (Express, which had left the PCC...). Clause 6 is intended to specifically protect children's right to privacy, and IPSO's 1st ever case, raised as a 3rd part complaint by an MP (Sarah Wollaston) on the 'devil child' story (see http://mediareg.blogspot.lu/2017/05/ipso-children-rulings.html).

We have seen the rich and powerful protected by IPSO, as in the Harry on the beach case:
See the 'royal family' tag.

BUT - IPSO have also backed a member of the public in a case which led to calls for changes in the writing of the privacy and children's clauses (see Press Gazette article; IPSO said this was not necessary), to state that social media accounts should not be assumed to be public (their ruling here):
Privacy is 1 of the most complained-about clauses (numbers, from IPSO's website, accurate on 14.5.18):


Thursday, 10 May 2018


There are 2 key points from this:
It's a great example of Chomskian flak AND anti-left-wing (anti-communism when the Manufacturing Consent book was originally published)
The legal case was taken up only after IPSO had ruled on the complaint. The IPSO response was deemed unsatisfactory.

Sunday Telegraph pays damages to mosque chief over Corbyn article https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/may/09/sunday-telegraph-pays-substantial-damages-to-london-mosque-chief?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

CHINA BANS PEPPA PIG Children's media censorship

Think it's funny that China is cracking down on Peppa Pig? Think again https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/07/china-cracking-down-on-peppa-pig?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

FILM Church controlled US cinema for 40 years

An excellent video guide to the extraordinary story of how the US Catholic church gained control over US cinema content. They were able to block any item from scripts or costume design deemed morally unacceptable. Any studio (in the 1930s a big five controlled production and cinema through to a 1948 Supreme Court antitrust ruling) who dared defy the papal censor's pen and get a C rating (A for Acceptable, B for some morally dubious content, C for Condemned) faced a mass boycott. Millions of Catholics swore an oath not to view any C movies upon pain of losing their immortal soul!!!!


The answer is the same reasons why the UK film industry set up the BBFC a century ago:
- fear of national governmental regulation
- trying to sidestep the many LOCAL censorship codes that were making distribution complex and expensive

The early years of UK TV regulation saw a similar level of pre-broadcast censorship, with shows details scrutinised before filming, and schedules also subject to tight control by the regulator.

The press ditched such controls several centuries ago!


Monday, 30 April 2018

POLICE CHOMSKIAN censorship of journalists

I've read about this story, a UK journalist secretly labelled a left-wing extremist by police + barred from attending major events to do his job, on various alternative news sites. It's somewhat reassuring to see it covered in the Grauniad too.

By taking legal action against the police, who refuse to detail or justify their decision and whose allegedly arbitrary profiling may be illegal, the wider institutional ideology of anti-left-wing (reflecting 1 of the propoganda model's 5 filters), linking police and secret services and seen in employment blacklists and actions such as the extraordinary demand that The Guardian physically destroy computers used for reporting the Edward Snowden leaks, may be exposed to unexpected scrutiny. If reported by the rest of the press and mainstream media that is, as opposed to firing flak at the journalist who has brought the case, seeking to undermine his reputation and image.

A free press? I’m a UK journalist, but the police labelled me an extremist https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/30/free-press-uk-journalist-police-extremist-legal-action?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, 29 April 2018


This is another example of why a narrow focus on content alone is clearly not capable of producing effective newspaper regulation.

Wider law, the Competition and Mergers Authority, might step in, but a lack of competition in newspaper distribution and the poor quality service, with delivery times by freelance drivers making customer delivery difficult, is leading to some newsagents to just give up.

Newsagents are suffering in a sorry game of monopoly https://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2018/apr/22/newspaper-wholesaler-delivery-corner-shop-closures?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, 27 April 2018

BBFC Red Sparrow gets favourable 15

(placeholder for now, TBC)

$69m IP/star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence (based on hit novel optioned + adapted by Fox).
The BBFC judged the original cut an 18, but advised on a specific cut (to a garroting scene) to get a 15.

The marketing for the film caused another controversy over JL's low cut dress. (IndieWire)

IMDB Parents Guide. Note the 12 rating in France.
Official site.
MelonFarmers (be aware of dubious links on this site)

Reviews: Guardian (Observer); Ebert; TheAtlantic;

Perhaps surprisingly, The Daily Mail didn't manage to get outraged by the movie:


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

YOUTUBE Are Google kidding with parental control?

Google to improve YouTube Kids app to let parents control what children watch https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/25/google-youtube-kids-app-parent-control-what-children-watch?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Monday, 23 April 2018

FACEBOOK DEFAMATION if proven as publisher

Another front opens up on the growing backlash against the American social media behemoths...

The electioneering and data gathering scandal, EU data privacy laws (GDPR), the UK government apparently seeking tougher child protection, the press campaign to have Facebook (and Google) treated like publishers with the regulations that brings and to pay for their content...

Now comes an attack on their revenues, a defamation case brought by a businessman whose name was used in fake ads despite his attempts to get Facebook to take them down. The ad regulator, ASA, has no real sway here, it is once again Facebook self-regulating itself as it sees fit. There is a clear parallel with the recent Google scandal over its placing of racist, extreme right-wing ads.

The pressure grows to act on GAFA's protected status as American companies (the US safe haven laws) not governed by national regulation (never mind taxation!) in the many territories it operates in.

Martin Lewis sues Facebook over fake ads with his name https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/22/martin-lewis-sues-facebook-over-fake-ads-with-his-name?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, 22 April 2018

SOCIAL MEDIA CHILDREN regulation disgrace says UK gov

Coming from the party that never objected over the topless page 3 pics in the non-age restricted tabloids (Sun, Star, Mirror, and formerly Sport; a social media campaign successfully harassed Murdoch into ditching it from the sun); is tough on ... calls for tough press regulation and refused to hold Leveson2; historically allowed cable and satellite TV channels to enjoy minimal content regulation (and accepted Murdoch's claims for Sky as a Luxembourg-centred operation thus beyond even much of that minimal restriction) leading to the likes of L!ve TV's Topless Darts On Ice, a degree of scepticism may be exercised over former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pushed out as his extraordinary links with Murdoch were exposed while he was in position to rule on his BSkyB bid - which only failed after the NoTW phone hacking scandal hit...

Now an extremely unpopular Health Secretary he has suggested that social media need tougher regulation to safeguard children from excessive screen time, cyber bullying, psychological distress from body shaming content, etc. He says their age rating and restriction systems are inadequate, which few would argue with.

It would be somewhat surprising for such a laissez-faire free market party to bring in legislation (statutory regulation) rather than seek a voluntary code, but then this is the party of music video age ratings (voluntary) and the 1980s broadcast ban, blocking the voice of 'terrorist sympathisers' (including MPs from Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland), plus the scrapping of the IBA and replacing with the ITC when the commercial (non-BBC) regulator refused Thatcher's demand to ban the Death on the Rock documentary which exposed state-sanctioned murder (coincidentally, the only ITV company to lose its franchise in the ITC auction system was Thames TV, producer of the doc)...

Governments from both major UK parties have shown a willingness to go beyond democratic norms in restricting the 'free press' (in the wider sense of media). Blair's Labour eviscerated the BBC for its coverage of Blair's 'dodgy dossier' used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and Blair oversaw a Communications Act that included what was generally referred to as the Murdoch Clause (deregulation of restrictions of ownership of TV companies).

With the Brexit shambles, funding crisis across government, notably health, the Windrush scandal and the PM's role in this, a spot of Daily Mail-friendly pro-censorship, traditional values campaigning is a good strategic move.

Given the habit of the press to breach it's Editors' Code guidelines on children (and the rest), it is curious that this sudden interest in social media isn't reflected in a similar interest in print media. That wouldn't be so Daily Mail-friendly.

Whatever the motivation, this is a sign of the pressure building to enhance the currently lax, minimal regulation of the social media giants, a disparity that is arguably unfair to the film distributors, press publishers and broadcast companies that all labour under more restrictive regulation and/or the economic challenges of the digital disruptors not just sucking up their advertising revenue but also profiting from their content with very low levels of compensation for this.

Safeguards for social media ‘inadequate’, says Jeremy Hunt https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/22/jeremy-hunt-social-media-firms-failing-safeguard-children-online?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, 14 April 2018

CHOMSKY SYRIA propaganda model in effect

28 and 7 years ago, with the 8-year Gulf War 2 starting in between 15 years ago, we got classic case studies of the propaganda model in full effect. From the neutral-by-law BBC to the 'centre-left' Guardian in the UK, and across the US media (and every one of Murdoch's huge global empire of newspapers) government military action in the middle east, launched without UN legal approval, received supportive coverage. Huge public anti-war demonstrations received minimal mainstream coverage.

Chomsky himself has spoken at length on how the (then threatened) attack against Syria fitted his model (easy enough to find from a simple search). The alternative news media paints a very different picture from the mainstream, mass media of the UK, US, French and Israeli bombings.

Here's two contrasting examples, one unpicking the rhetoric of coverage in major US and UK media, the other a piece from The Guardian, whose centre-left readership will be broadly hostile to military action abroad (but seen as persuadable if it's for 'humanitarian' causes), and certainly hostile to the Tory PM who is uncritically quoted at length (source strategies) until the end of the lengthy article when Corbyn's objections are mentioned.

'No alternative': Theresa May sends British jets to join air strikes on Syria https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/14/theresa-may-britain-air-strikes-syria-chemical-weapons-raf?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger


Sunday, 8 April 2018

DAILY MAIL in RACISM row IPSO third party rejection

From Zelo-Street blog
Tad sardonic there, but whether Quentin Letts' direct question (was actor cast because he's black [is it cos he's black to paraphrase Ali G, a no more preposterous voice one could argue]) is racist or not what is also noteworthy is that ...

... Once again there's no mention (yet, at least) of IPSO, this is largely a Twitter-based row.
Guardian: Daily Mail's Quentin Letts accused of 'racist attitude' in theatre review.


IPSO reject third party complaint
Daily Mail columnist accused the RSC of politically correct tokenism for casting a black actor in a Shakespearean role. This quickly led to a Twitter-based argument, and in turn to an IPSO complaint. Somewhat surprisingly (to me anyway), IPSO rejected the complaint (of breaching editors’ Code Clause 12: Discrimination) as it did not come from the actor highlighted by Letts.

My surprise comes from IPSO’s apparent resolve to do better than its predecessor the PCC with third party complaints (ie, someone other than the subject of press content complaining), which had been repeatedly and specifically highlighted by the Culture Select Committee as a key failing of the PCC. That issue was also highlighted over the Stephen Gateley/Jan Moir case (also Daily Mail, generally the most-complained about paper).

The 'Zelo-Street' blog (rather angrily) covered this in detail.

IPSO's seeming backtracking on this does not suggest it is likely to evolve into an especially effective regulator. It is one thing for it still to focus only on retrospective consideration of published contents and ignore all structural aspects of the press (such as the lack of pluralism, concentration of ownership), but to continue wilfully ignoring possible breaches of their Code if the article subject doesn't complain is not encouraging.

The negative publicity the tweets brought could be seen as therefore at least contributing to some censure of the Mail while its regulator refuses to consider whether or not it has been guilty of breaching Clause 12 Discrimination.

Here's a few samples of the tweets (NB: one contains strong language)...

From Letts' own Twitter feed

Monday, 26 March 2018

ANTITRUST REGULATION Should new media giants be broken up?

Google, Facebook not playing by the rules, News Corp tells ACCC


TERMINOLOGY - very useful neologism/mnemonic below: GAFA...
The Murdoch press enjoys a dominant market position in the UK with no hint of any regulatory action (unless left-wing Labour leader wins the next election) from government or the self-'regulator' IPSO. Yet his corporation's handling of sport rights once more sees clear evidence of the tough regulatory environment for broadcast media compared to 'print' media.
Guardian: 21st Century Fox's London office raided in market abuse inquiry.

A useful primer, including a quote from Adam Smith, on the history of and current clamour for enforcement of antitrust laws.

In a nutshell these exist to combat market dominance by single companies (or colluding cartels), seen as to the detriment of customers.

Elliot, the Guardian Economics editor, references historical cases of oil, and 1980s action on AT+T (US equivalent of BT in the UK or Post in Luxembourg), but he could also have referenced action against a forerunner of the modern cinema big six, forced to vertically DE-integrate before gradual deregulation allowed this dominance to return.

Microsoft were desperate for Apple to survive during its 90s crises, as it helped put off antitrust action against them.

Elliot cites the GAFA crew, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, but Comcast and Disney also are worthy of such consideration as they clamber above even global media barons such as Murdoch, who faces Disney buying his film empire and Comcast his prized TV empire.

(See Guardian article, Is it time to break up the tech giants such as Facebook?, for more on this)

The argument goes like this. Data is as vital to the modern digital economy as oil was a century ago. The tech giants have the same sort of monopoly power that Standard Oil once had (Google and Facebook accounted for two-thirds of online advertising spending in the US last year and Amazon was responsible for 75% of online book sales). Mark Zuckerberg might wear chinos rather than the top hat sported by Rockefeller but a robber baron is a robber baron. It is time for anti-trust legislation to be used to break up Facebook, Google and Amazon.
The charge sheet is a long one: the tech giants are exploiting their monopoly power to stifle competition; they are spreading fake news; their fantastically rich owners portray themselves as right-on yet go to a great deal of trouble to minimise their corporate tax bills; they are ripping the heart out of communities through the closure of bricks-and-mortar retailers. To the list can now be added (in Facebook’s case) the harvesting of the personal data of 50 million Americans and its use for political purposes. 
No question, Big Tech is more vulnerable to a backlash from Washington than it has ever been. Companies have outgrown management systems that were not designed for systemically important businesses and have used their market power to gobble up rivals. It is this charge – that the disruptive startup companies of yesteryear are today’s anti-capitalists – that creates the biggest risk of anti-trust action.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

HACKING ex-PM Brown wants Times prosecution

Interesting to see if anything happens over this. A 'confession' of criminal activity is now in the public domain, though The Times' last statement on this illegal 'blagging' of Brown's financial details, from 2011, denies culpability.

Leveson2 might have unpicked and exposed systematic, anti-democratic abuse of power like this, but has been blocked by a government supported by Murdoch's papers.

The parties are different, but the interference in the democratic process has parallels to the Sun's destruction of Culture (then 'Heritage') Secretary David Mellor's career by publishing a classic 'sex scandal' that forced his resignation and killed his career.

Mellor's' crime'? He infamously pronounced the press was "drinking in the last chance saloon" - but after his sacking his Tory government refused to engage with Lord Calcutt's review (recommending statutory regulation). A familiar story.

Gordon Brown calls for police inquiry into Sunday Times story https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/mar/22/gordon-brown-calls-for-police-inquiry-into-sunday-times-story?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger