Exam date

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

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Select Committee role: the 2011 Murdoch hearing

As well as the formal media regulators we have to consider the role of Parliament in overseeing media regulation. Governments can set up one-off investigations at times of scandal over media (usually press) behaviour, as happened with the 1970 Younger Committee, 1989 Calcutt Committee, and the Leveson Inquiry (July 2011, reported November 2012, with a 2nd part to come following the end of criminal trials). The 1985 Peacock Committee was set up with the aim of getting support for privatising the BBC or at least applying free market principles to the TV sector rather than any scandal.

When issues are seen as too sensitive for one party/government to deal with, the major parties can agree to set up a Royal Commission, as has happened three times on the press.

Its easy to overlook the important role of backbench MPs here.

Through the Culture, Media, Sport Select Committee they can investigate any area of the media, and have been holding regular hearings into press standards, privacy and libel, with some particularly famous hearings including appearances by the Murdochs. You can watch the entire July 2011 hearing at which Rupert Murdoch, having declared this was the "most humble day in my life", was attacked with a shaving foam pie and rescued by his much younger wife (who would divorce him in 2014). James Murdoch also took considerable umbrage at Labour MP Tom Watson's description of News Corp as a "mafia-like organisation".

Some useful links:
Wiki: DCMS
2010 guide to junior Culture ministers
Wiki: Culture Secretary
Shadow Culture Secretary (2013: Harriet Harman)
Mail report on the July 2011 hearing
NY Times on the same

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