Exam date

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

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Hackgate: is Murdoch next in the dock? PM Cameron too?

Rupert Murdoch has been officially informed by Scotland Yard that detectives want to interview him as a suspect as part of their inquiry into allegations of crime at his British newspapers. (source)
Rupert, and indeed James, Murdoch may have edged a step closer to facing criminal trial themselves, though there remain considerable barriers before such a remarkable event could come about.
The verdict on Coulson increases the possibility that Murdoch's UK company, News UK (formerly News International) could be charged as a corporation, which in turn could potentially lead to the prosecution of members of the UK company's former board of directors, potentially including Rupert and James Murdoch.

IPSO: Joan Smith's scathing verdict

The press is obviously awash with news of the Hackgate trial outcome, which I'll come to in time, but here's a very succinct (taking just the 1st paragraph quoted below) view on why IPSO is just yet another figleaf for press business as usual by veteran journalist Joan Smith:
The grandly named Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) is just the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in a new guise. We have been round this course many times, going back several decades, following a nearly identical trajectory: scandalous behaviour by sections of the press, public outrage, the announcement of an inquiry, followed by a new regulator which looks very much like the old.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

PCC Ineffective to the end: Mail flouts ruling

Roy Greenslade notes, in typically dry fashion*, that the Daily Mail continues to show just how much (ie, seemingly not a lot!) it respects the PCC. Both it and the Telegraph were found guilty of the same Clause 1 (Accuracy) breach, falsely accusing the BBC of extravagant hotel spending (they actually got a £59 rate, half the standard rate).

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Chris Morris: Brass Eye, Day Today, Four Lions

I'll come back to this, but just wanted to make sure there are easy to find links/materials on various Morris creations which are useful for showing up issues with both broadcast regulation (and the moral panic concept/process with the press) and film regulation.

Here's the controversial Brass Eye Special, "Paedogeddon", that got labelled filth and sick ("the sickest show ever") by a frothingly furious press, who of course demand freedom of the press from any government interference, but equally insist on government interference for the content (not the ownership!) of other media, in full so you can judge for yourselves.

REMEMBER, any celebrities or politicians seen pontificating in these shows aren't in on the joke; they consider their contribution to be worthy. Morris is deconstructing how the news media lazily rely on cliches and sensationalism to report on important issues, relegating accuracy, reflection or context to a lesser consideration.


TBC

THE CAKE EPISODE

...

Friday, 6 June 2014

IPSO press lapdog or watchdog? Steve Bell

Speaks for itself; the satirical view of Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell:
Find more Steve Bell cartoons here.

Comparing effectiveness of regulators

TBC
A bullet-pointed, abbreviated list; everything I refer to below is covered in more detail elsewhere in this blog and/or handouts (many of which are also embedded within posts).

THE PRESS
There are very few examples to convincingly argue that the press have been effectively regulated, but all of these points can be raised:
- the PCC consistently highlighted high 'satisfaction ratings' in their annual reviews
- despite all the contrary evidence, they did get fulsome praise from Tony Blair and David Cameron
- (and, when FINALLY responding to Calcutt's 1993 recommendation to replace the PCC with statutory regulation, the 1995 Tory gov praised the PCC)
- Prince William held a 'thankyou party' for the PCC and national editors (we'll consider this more later)
- by encouraging non-legal resolutions to disputes (ie, not the courts, expensive lawyers), they arguably made resolution more attainable for ordinary people
- a glib argument, rather hypocritically used by a press who leave to scream for state regulation of TV/film/ads/web, but still important: the press remains (notionally...) free from state/political interference; we have a 'free press' in the UK unlike many authoritarian nations (China etc)
- a linked point: it was/is self-funding: it costs the taxpayer nothing (ditto the BBFC), unlike OfCom (around £100m a year)
- the PCC argued that the numbers of cases 'resolved' itself indicated success, and that every correction or removal of article/picture proves their effectiveness
- three notable improvements from the PCC over the GCP and Press Council that preceded it: (1) lay membership become dominant; this wasn't just a press body judging the press, but also many non-press outsiders (2) it had a published 'Editor's Code' which set out the grounds on which complaints could be made and on which they would be judged [the PC did this in their final year, but essentially neither the GCP nor PC made the basis of judgements, or an open set of standards, known] (3) as is now accepted practice across the board for media regulators (the BBFC in particular highlights this, labelling their published information 'BBFC Insight' and specifically proclaiming this as a service for parents), the PCC publish their Code and judgements on a website, as well as detailed annual reports
There are few respectable sources who will offer up arguments for the PCC specifically, though there are more who will argue the wider point in favour of self-regulation; I recommend in particular looking for the 'Peter Preston' tag in the tagcloud. A former Guardian editor who also briefly served on the PCC, he continues to pen articles strongly advocating self-regulation, and even defending the record of the PCC. He insists that they do a better job than statutory regulators like OfCom. The PCC's website itself naturally contains useful material arguing that it is an effective regulator.

The counter-argument is overwelming, but you mustn't make the mistake of simply ignoring the points above. Its also worth stressing that the apparent failure of self-regulation isn't a direct argument for statutory regulation: it is simply a reflection that the form and nature of the self-regulation we have had has been ineffective. The GCP, PC and PCC have all been largely reactive bodies, mainly responding to complaints (as explicitly highlighted in the PCC's very name), although the PCC did occasionally intervene when contacted with pre-publication concerns by those who would be impacted by planned articles. It also remained too dominated by press figures, despite the numbers of lay people involved. If a tougher regime, with the power to fine (as Leveson recommended, but the press rejected, and IPSO won't have), to enforce corrections within a timescale and on a page/size of its choosing, or even, as had been discussed, inflicting tax on papers who repeatedly breached the agreed standards or, like Desmond, just refused to come under the regulatory system ... then self-regulation may very well be effective.
So, before going into the many reasons for and examples of ineffective press self-regulation, do remember that this is not necessarily proof that self-regulation doesn't work - just that the style and approach of a system that, for example, ignores issues around press ownership, is (and surely will be with the not-so-different IPSO?) ineffective, as can clearly be seen by the consistently poor standards of our national press.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

WIDER ISSUES: Privacy

This is a topic I've frequently blogged on - use the tag cloud to find previous posts.

There are two ways to view the issue of privacy as it applies to media law and regulation:

  1. There should be tougher, tighter restrictions on the media's ability to invade our privacy, as tabloid newspapers in particular persist in doing so on flimsy grounds
  2. We urgently need to liberalise privacy law in favour of the media, as it is becoming increasingly difficult for UK media to publish information about the rich and powerful (those with access to expensive lawyers)

As ever, there are overlapping issues with digitisation:

  • UK-only privacy regulation/law is made absurd by the easy access to global online resources
  • As most of us permit websites and apps to track huge amounts of personal information about us, we increasingly undermine the argument that we have a right to privacy

There are cases from the press, TV and film that we can consider, but there is a further point we swiftly encounter, for example through the Max Mosley case:

  • Media regulation of single industries makes no sense, and is ineffective, when there is so much cross-media ownership


Secret Terror Trial = end of Fourth Estate?

There are various terms used below: fourth estate, public sphere, superinjunction, statutory regulation, concentration of ownership, liberal pluralism, Marxist critique: (Chomsky's) propaganda model, hegemonic, free market, web 2.0.

The media are regulated because (a) they are seen as having profound influence on social psychology, values and attitudes and (b) because they are seen as a basic, fundamental part of a functioning democracy. Of course, the democratic function leads some to argue that we shouldn't regulate the media - or, more specifically, that the government shouldn't have a role in this; this is a key argument used against tougher, statutory regulation of the press.

June 2014 sees news emerging of a criminal trial which the media were originally banned from reporting on, including on its very existence. The very concept of a fourth estate (or free press, where press doesn't just mean newspapers) is based on the idea that the media will hold governments and big business to account, and expose any corruption, improper or antidemocratic practices.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Ads/ASA/Children: Rihanna perfume ad ban

Based on a single complaint, the ad for Rogue, a perfume line, featuring a naked Rihanna has been given a 'restricted placing' order by the ASA. It is only permitted to be placed anywhere where children are unlikely to encounter it.
You can judge for yourself (NB: deemed unsuitable for under-15s) by clicking read more below, or here to read the Guardian article on this.

Monday, 2 June 2014

FUTURE: no PSB, BBC, C4?

IN THIS POST:
  1. Link to a series of in-depth Guardian reports on BBC/PSB, history and future
  2. List of other posts on this blog on PSB/BBC
  3. Link to a helpful Word doc which in simple, plain language sets out the BBC/PSB issues, including commercial TV and its regulators over the years
  4. Define several key terms
  5. My take on PSB/BBC issues in several sub-sections, with further links, vids (Steve Coogan/Chris Morris), pics within each:
  • EARLY HISTORY + PASSIVE AUDIENCE ASSUMPTIONS 
  • REITHIAN VALUES: EDUCATE, ENTERTAIN, INFORM
  • STRICT REGULATION OF OWNERSHIP AND CONTENT
  • TROUBLES WITH NORTHERN IRELAND
  • OFF WITH THEIR HEAD: DODGY DOSSIERS + DEREGULATION 
  • A PATTEN EMERGES: COE IS ME
  • BYE BYE AUNTIE BEEB? FAREWELL PSB?
  • ANOTHER FUTURE: BBC WORLDWIDE + FREEVIEW CONNECT


NB: The Guardian has recently published in-depth reports on the BBC and PSB, including on the future of both.
Very useful! Access here.


I've blogged several times on PSB issues; see:
  • Greek PSB shutdown; comparison with Italy/Berlusconi
  • OfCom 2012 complaints overview: issues of child protection and watershed featured prominently - many detailed case studies you can use in this post, + wider analysis
  • Free market ideology/broadcast industry: a brief(ish) explanation of what we mean by 'free market', a key term/ideology used to argue for deregulation
  • OfCom research task: many useful links/bullet points within this
  • OfCom: some fundamentals. A detailed post which tells you much of what you need to know about the regulation of commercial TV, alongside some comparison with BBC regulation - and how the two overlap.
  • OfCom future: can't sanction ITV/C5? A new term entered the lexicon after ITV threatened to walk away from its PSB commitments entirely, arguing they cost too much while in a digital age the PSB benefits were gone: (license) handback. This post looks at the possibility of ITV/C5 simply ceasing to follow OfCom's PSB requirements.
  • Arguments against 'impartial' news/current affairs. Robert Fisk argues that the legal requirement for UK broadcast news/current affairs to be 'impartial' (similar to the 'fair and balanced' US doctrine ... though Fox News, with a blatant pro-Republican bias, faces no issues there [and OfCom granted it a license here, so long as it remains a US news station]) actually creates bias
There have been several important stories/events recently tied to PSB issues, so here's a summary of PSB, and how current events suggest a possible future direction.


You can also find a plain English Word doc which sums up PSB and gives a history of how this has changed with both the BBC and the commercial broadcasters (ITV etc) over the years at http://adamrobbins.edublogs.org/files/2007/06/what-is-public-service-broadcastin1.doc.

It dates back to 2007, but Adam Robbins' guide is helpful.




FIRST, SOME KEY TERMS:

PSB: Public Service Broadcasting. Sky, and the vast bulk of digital/cable channels are not legally considered as PSBs, it is only the BBC/ITV/C4/C5 that are PSB. These have a legal duty to reflect public needs for news and information; regional programming; and to ensure certain programme categories are included in their schedules (eg religious, children's). This reflects their privileged status: in the analogue era when you bought a TV these channels were automatically accessible, while in the digital era they are all free through Freeview and are still required to be listed at the top of EPGs (Electronic Programme Guide).