Exam date

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

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

OfCom + press flak

Whilst the PCC has had it fairly easy (at least until Hackgate blew up and their assurances that all was okay looked absurd) from their brothers in arms of the press, OfCom has been an object of bitter attack by Fleet Street's finest.
Why might this be?
While the PCC essentially let the press off with murder, with any wrist-slapping carried out with a feather, OfCom has frequently frustrated the cross-media ambitions of media magnates and conglomerates, looking for synergies, or horizontal/vertical integration, through expansion into TV, radio and web. Its OfCom that holds the power to refer proposed purchases of one media company/outlet by another for legal scrutiny, and much of the press bitterly restrict this - even though this OfCom has been hugely reduced with the deregulation/pro-free market reforms that started under Thatcher in the 80s, carried on under New Labour and threatened to be completed by the coalition government until Hackgate made the News Corp buyout of Sky (which the Tory minister has okayed) a huge scandal.
Papers like the Daily Mail take a typically hypocritical line here: constantly attacking OfCom for being too powerful and interfering in the free market whilst constantly demanding OfCom uses more power to stop sex, violence and all those bad things you never read about (with helpful pictures) in the Mail...
This highlights a real dichotomy in the debates over media regulation: issues over ownership and the debated need for regulation of a free market on the one hand, and debates over media content and freedom to/restrictions on publishing on the other.
The right-wing press (ie, most of it!) constantly bemoan the interference in a free market of media ownership ... but attack the perceived failure to interfere enough on media content (especially if, like Sachsgate, the naughty party happens to be the BBC, loathed by free marketeers who see it as diminishing their potential for profit). The left-wing press (all two of them!!!), whilst also nervous and antagonistic about any prospect of a new licensing regime, tend to report more favourably on criticisms of the concentration of ownership, and barriers to new entrants (basically, you need to be a billionaire), whilst being pro-BBC and much less likely to froth at the mouth at the latest saucy C4 drama.

THEORY TIP: Hopefully that description rang a few bells ... the way the right-wing press cover OfCom is akin to flak, one of the five filters Chomsky argues shoots down media messages which go against the interests of the most wealthy and powerful.

Here's one recent example of the Mail firing flak at OfCom - and note the typically mealy-mouthed, low-profile 'apology' (hardly a ringing endorsement of the PCC that this sort of daily propaganda is seen as acceptable in the UK; in a paper such as the New York Times this might cause a fair degree of uproar at the lapse in journalistic standards):

'A production error'

From today's corrections column in the Daily Mail:

An article on Saturday about children dialling up pornography on mobile phones suggested that Ofcom could not explain why filters to block adult material on BlackBerrys would not be available for at least six months.

We are happy to clarify that Ofcom’s response, that the ‘project is highly technical and software filters need to be developed from scratch’ was omitted from the article due to a production error.

The blog this is taken from - Tabloid Watch - is written in a very caustic manner but is nonetheless an absolute goldmine as regards your exam preparation; it has a huge archive of stories on such inaccuracies which you can use to bolster your notes on the PCC (and its failings) in particular.

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