Exam date

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

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

OWNERSHIP POLITICS Maggie, Rupert: The Bare Truth

UPDATE: Graham Stewart, author of the volume of the History of the Times (which I've read, and has been used as a prop in an AS film this year!), has hit back at Evans' claims, strongly arguing that Murdoch's was the only credible bid, without which both Times papers might have gone bust (much as he argues in the book).

Not a new story, Leveson was quite withering on Murdoch's apparent inability to remember a meeting of questionable legality with Thatcher that seemed to ensure his Times bid wasn't sent to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. There are parallels with the Murdoch meetings with Conservative ministers decades later when his bid to buy up remaining BSkyB was suspiciously waved through, only for Hackgate to torpedo this, and ultimately lead to Leveson, part of his brief being to investigate improper relationships between press and politicians.

The news hook - aside from a left-wing paper seeking to raise a right-wing spectre at election time - is the revised 5th edition of Harold Evans' excellent book on the press, a great read for a wider view of the press, and a useful counterpoint to Curran and Seat on, given Evans was a Tory-supporting Sunday Times editor.

Monday, 27 April 2015

GLOBALISATION WEB 2.0 Brussels sprouts Amazonian muscle?

At the UK national level we're seeing 'sweetheart' deals for media multinationals widely accused of tax avoidance practices, but at the EU level there appears to be appetite for challenging these global giants. Using examples such as Amazon, the EU has opened an investigation into the possible monopoly of some, which could lead to significant new regulation.
EU warns of 'point of no return' if internet firms are not regulated soon.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

WEB 2.0 No vicTory for not so nice Shap(ps)

Fairly remarkable tale this. Stripping away any dis/like of the party or individual involved, it can be viewed as a powerful example of self-regulation.

2015 General Election: Media Policy

Rather than post a stack of posts reacting to policy announcements and eventual manifesto pledges, I'll gather links and points in this post.

Key (probable) issues:
  • Future of BBC, funding, downsizing?; form of BBC regulation (scrap Trust?)
  • Wider future of PSB requirements
  • Future/role of OfCom
  • Watershed in digital era
  • Extending ratings system to music video and other media content
  • Press regulation, Leveson response, IPSO
  • Privacy laws, protection of journalists' right to privacy
  • Film industry state funding
  • Pluralism, (concentration of) ownership, cross-media ownership limits
I've been saving a variety of links, but the Media Guardian has come to my rescue on this one!
Here's their helpfully pithy overview (written by Jasper Jackson):

Plans for the media industry may not be seen as a big vote winner this election, but the manifestos published over the past few days suggest that each party has a very different take on the industry.

Monday, 20 April 2015

IPSO Public opinion backs tougher regulation - YouGov poll

The numbers are open to interpretation it must be said. The Guardian uncritically reflects the reading of Hacked Off (who commissioned the poll) - remember, 'source strategy' is one key way to assess a paper - but there is scope to read the numbers as showing only lukewarm support, and quite a split.
The poll findings suggest very limited public confidence in IPSO. If Labour forms the next government after the upcoming election, its very likely that the whole issue of press regulation will be re-visited. If its another Tory-led government, this is much less likely.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

LIBEL LAW Sky's the limit as Scientology wins 2nd UK battle

IN A NUTSHELL: The Church of Scientology has successfully used libel law, reformed in England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland, to intimidate Sky, who opted to abandon a broadcast of a film critical of the 'church' rather than face expensive legal proceedings. They don't have the technical ability to separate the signal to ensure the film wouldn't be broadcast in Northern Ireland, so the 2013 libel reforms, designed to stop 'libel tourism' and abuses of super-injunctions by the likes of Trafigura, seem to have been rendered null.Another good example of why we need to look beyond the formal regulators to laws as well.

In its goal of preventing a broadcast of Going Clear in the UK, the church has an unlikely ally in Northern Ireland’s libel laws. The 2013 Defamation Act set out a new defence for public-interest journalism on the British mainland: that the plaintiff has to show “serious harm” has been done to it. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

DEREGULATION GLOBALISATION Robert Bork + why EU tackles Google monopoly when US doesn't

I was aware of Robert Bork, but couldn't have pinned down his relevance to the media (de)regulation issue before I'd read this excellent article by John Naughton, intriguing enough to interrupt a time out in the fading sunshine!

The news hook is that the EU have announced an investigation into Google's practices, giving them 10 weeks to respond to an accusation of monopolistic strategy. Naughton highlights the stark contrast with the US, where the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), faced with the same data as the EU's competition commissioner (the US actually passed it on!), decided not to take a case ... despite several staff apparently arguing they should.

This is where Naughton draws on the writings and influence of Robert Bork, one of the foremost theorists of the neoliberal, deregulatory ideology that has slowly gained hegemony since the New Right movements of Thatcherism and Reaganomics took hold in the early 1980s.

LEVESON, LAW Operation Elevden collapses, public interest defence wins

This is quite complex if you've not being following the fallout from the Leveson Commission. Aside from the recommendation for a new regulator with a Royal Charter status (and the vague threat of statutory regulation if this failed), which has essentially failed (IPSO doesn't really match up), Leveson was also tasked with investigating the relationships between press and politicians, plus press and police (and public bodies more widely).
In an explosive statement made to the Leveson inquiry in the middle of the police investigation, Sue Akers, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, gave details of the operation, claiming her officers had uncovered a “network of corrupted officials” and a “culture of illegal payments”
Operation Elevden was the (Met) Police response to this, a £20m investigation with 20 journalists charged. The press was quite uniformly condemnatory of this, likening it to McCarthyism and seeing it at least partially as organisations (the Met and CPS, Crown Prosecution Service) whose reputations were damaged by Leveson, playing politics with criminal prosecutions.

Elevden now lies in tatters after a none too impressed senior judge threw out most of the cases, forcing the CPS to withdraw several prosecutions.


Friday, 17 April 2015

WEB 2.0 Failing to tackle Twitter trolls? Report on football racist tweets

Can the web be effectively regulated? The case of the tweeter jailed for racist comments aimed at footballer Fabrice Muamba became a famous case which seemed to suggest that, yes, the wild wild web was tameable, and Lord MacAlpine's successful legal pursuit of the 100s who incorrectly named him as a paedophile on Twitter seemed to reinforce that view.

How does this square with the report into football-related tweets that exposes tens of thousands of racist ('hate speech' in legal terms) tweets against individual footballers such as Mario Balotelli? David Conn, quoted below, notes the difficulty in UK police taking action when US-hosted sites such as twitter refuse to co-operate, and US courts also refuse to assist:

Sunday, 12 April 2015

DIGITISATION OWNERSHIP Preston on online polls opposing non-dom owners

In short, [there] is no single, ideal model of press ownership anywhere in the world, particularly in an era of profound flux. Any prospective government policy is going to be out of date before it’s sealed: see the way Leveson couldn’t cope with online.
Preston raises an opinion poll that shows overwhelming support for tougher media regulation, specifically restricting the right of non-doms to own British media. Whilst acknowledging the principle behind this, he questions whether this sentiment has any meaning given the globalisation that digitisation has brought about.

He starts:

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

THEORY Fourth Estate, Public Sphere defined

Basic stuff, but useful - and indeed fundamental.

With clergy/religious institutions, nobility and 'commoners' the classic 'three estates of the realm', the media (originally the press of course) began being referred to as a fourth estate, independent from and tasked with ensuring a proper scrutiny (and flow of information to and on behalf of the public) of the three estates. Edmund Burke is widely credited with coining the term in 1787 during a debate in the House of Commons ... on the commencement of press reporting on parliament.
Here's Hearns-Branaman's (2011) summary:
The Fourth Estate encapsulates many of the important ideas of the Enlightenment,especially that democracies need to be fuelled by a well informed public whothemselves are the source for the power and legitimacy of the government.

DIGITISATION v DEMOCRACY? Is We Media/UGC death of 4th Estate?

IN A NUTSHELL: Greenslade argues that the brave new digital world of de-staffed media outlets is of grave concern, and profoundly anti-democratic:
This is not the collaborative journalism we sought, the citizen journalism that we have been so enthusiastic about since the dawn of the net. It is churnalism. It is the appearance of journalism, a bogus activity. [Democracy will die if professional journalists go to the wall]

Currently revising and rewriting a series of posts, and working towards consolidated, extended posts - more on this topic can be found in the post above.

By the way, if you still don't routinely read Greenslade's column, I urge you to do so - there is no greater way to gain a wide insight into all issues concerning the press (with wider media relevance too).

This column reacts to Michael Rosenblum's recent conference speech in which he argues that newspapers will end up stifles, citing the examples of Airbnb (hotels) and Uber (at a $30bn valuation, the world's biggest taxi form doesn't own any cabs!):
In the not too distant future, the world’s biggest and most powerful news and media company will not employ a single journalist.
Greendale argues he sidestepped the main issue:
We are, of course, headed in the direction indicated by Rosenblum. The question he does not ask, however, is whether it will be beneficial for journalism and, by extension, beneficial for the public. 
The supposed virtue of a journalism of the people by the people for the people is nothing more than a way of publishers maximising profit. Media companies are using the technology as a way of reducing labour costs rather than as a way of democratising, and thereby enhancing, editorial content. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

DIGITISATION GLOBALISATION AGE Cons pledge online porn age restrictions

Tories promise to enforce age limits on online pornography. (PA/Guardian)
NSPCC chief Peter Wanless said: “The easy availability to children of online pornography, much of it extreme, violent and profoundly degrading, is of deepening concern.“It can leave them feeling frightened, confused, depressed or upset. The number of ChildLine counselling sessions regarding porn more than doubled last year to over 1,100 with some young girls revealing they were being pressured to mimic scenes from adult films.
There's an interesting link to film censorship and the BBFC's rationale here. Whilst more recently publicly acknowledging the lack of clear evidence of harm, they continue to demand cuts or raise ratings if concerned about 'copycat' potential, for example banning the nunchuka scene from Bruce Lee's 1973 Enter the Dragon (18), or a knife scene from 12-rated Larar Croft: Tomb Raider. Media effects are easy to claim but incredibly difficult to prove - with such anecdotal evidence as that cited by the NSPCC perhaps the so-called 'pornification' of culture, especially youth culture, is an area where the case is more convincing?