Exam date

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

Monday, 1 October 2012

Tele's arguments against statutory press reg

The arguments for statutory press regulation are easy to master and widely expressed. Even if you disagree, you need to present both sides of any argument in this exam (and within academic work generally!) before reasoning which you favour and why.

So, whilst the source (the right-wing broadsheet D.Telegraph) is clearly biased, their arguments cannot be dismissed. You can read the full article (with Roy Greenslade's commentary) here, or click read more below.

Telegraph to Leveson and Cameron: don't undermine press freedom

Today's lengthy Daily Telegraph editorial, The threat to our free press is grave and foolish, appears to betray an increasing nervousness about the coming Leveson inquiry report.
Its strapline, "The growing clamour for press regulation backed by statute threatens a priceless British freedom", either implies some kind of inside knowledge of Lord Justice Leveson's intentions or amounts to a shot across the judge's bows.

The paper seems convinced that Leveson will recommend a reformed system of regulation underpinned by statute. Most, if not all, national paper publishers and editors regard this as a no-no.
The Telegraph begins by asserting that the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, recommended Leveson to the prime minister as the right man to head an inquiry into press ethics because he - like Judge - passionately believed in a "free press." But, says the paper: "We worry that this is not the case."
It does not say why it holds that suspicion. Instead, the leader reiterates arguments for self-regulation advanced by its editor, Tony Gallagher, other editors and several of the industry's senior representatives during the inquiry hearings:
"There is a real danger that, because some newspapers allegedly behaved in a criminal manner, efforts will be made to reduce the whole press to an emasculated cipher of high-minded opinion...
Newspapers are not above the law – nor do they wish to be. It is widely accepted in the industry that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) needs to be reformed – more independent members should be recruited, it should have greater power of sanction, and contractual obligations should be placed upon newspapers. It is nevertheless essential that the press remains self-regulating."
Then the paper contends that "on several occasions" Leveson "has signalled that he believes the reformed regulatory body needs to be underpinned by statute, and it is apparent that this view is gaining currency in political circles."
In support of that argument, it points to a statement by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg during there week in which he said he would support "proportionate" state regulation of the press, an idea supported by Labour leaders. The leading article continues:
"Since the prime minister is compromised by his personal connections to News International, it is hard to see how he will be able to resist imposing a statutory system if one is recommended in the Leveson report. It is not at all clear that he will want to."

It says that "once a regulatory measure, however well intentioned, is on the statute book, MPs will seek to define the public interest in law, and governments will be tempted to use the legislation to choke off dissent." It goes on:

"Those who regard statutory regulation as an acceptable quid pro quo for state financial help do not have the interests of a free press at heart.
This includes pressure groups that talk blithely of public subventions for 'high-quality' journalism, but that are in reality attempting to constrain the influence and reach of right-of-centre and tabloid newspapers that have traditionally opposed Labour."
And, in conclusion, the paper says that "the most illuminating story of the conference season so far came not from a broadsheet investigation, nor from a TV interview, but from the disclosure in The Sun of Andrew Mitchell's foul-mouthed rant at police officers guarding the gates of Downing Street…
"We are sleepwalking into a world in which such ostensibly demotic stories – which actually reveal deeper truths and spark useful national debates – will be officially frowned upon.
"The growing clamour for press regulation backed by statute threatens a priceless British freedom. A Conservative prime minister should have no part of it."

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