Exam date

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Met Police inventing regulation off the cuff?

Don't confuse the IPCC with the PCC, though the CC is the same its the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

This is an example of how the police and those who can afford lawyers and court cases can severely limit the freedom of the press, quite separate from any formal media regulator.

IPCC rejects appeal over harassment warning to newspaper reporter.
IN A NUTSHELL: A convicted fraudster managed to get UK police to ban a London newspaper (local, not national: Croydon Advertiser) from questioning them, with a legal anti-harassment banning order. This is Roy Greenslade's commentary - he is not happy...

Comment: This decision by the IPCC is a disgrace. Davies acted as any reporter worth his or her salt should have done. He approached a convicted person and, when rebuffed, he did no more than send a follow-up email. This was not harassment. It was journalism.  
I’ll tell you what harassment is. It occurs when a group of police officers raid a reporter’s house in the early hours of the morning because she is suspected of paying someone to obtain stories in the public interest and then place that journalist on police bail without charge for months on end. 
Gareth Davies received that notice for doing his job, just as the Sun’s Whitehall editor, Clodagh Hartley, was arrested, charged and declared innocent at trial for doing hers.  
IPCC? I wonder if that word “independent” before PCC really means anything at all.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Music Video regulation: collected articles

I'll use this post to draw together links on this topic - use the tag and you'll find earlier posts on this, and I will be separately blogging more on this. Its a useful case study as it brings to the fore so many issues:

  • Globalisation: UK regulation only to (compulsorily; likes of VEVO are volunteering theirs) apply to videos produced in UK?
  • Digitisation: with YouTube's weak controls as just one example, do we really think this block digital t(w)eens from accessing these videos?!
  • Politics and moral panic: this is a convenient, socially conservative issue on which the government can win favour from the right-wing press, just as was the case with the 80s 'video nasty' campaign
  • Gender: is there a risk of penalising and continuing to render taboo female sexuality? OR is this an important corrective to the pornification of culture?
  • Children: you can't decouple this from the digitisation and gender issues above. Should we be concerned that government gets to influence what is released/accessible in popular culture? Could such powers once granted spread beyond the initial, explicit intent? Is there research into effects to back up the need for this regulation?

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Press Recognition Panel tour reminder of statutory power as Leveson outcome

See http://pressrecognitionpanel.org.uk
This has been generally overlooked, but there was a partial statutory element to the Leveson settlement agreed in parliament. Publishers who do not sign up to a regulator passed as meeting the requirements for royal charter (28 criteria to fulfil) are open to 'exemplary damages' in court judgements.
From PRP homepage.

Those who do are at risk of much smaller penalties.

OfCom's power to levy multimillion fines and remove licenses (and the BBFC effectively has a 'licensing' power for distribution and exhibition) has been a sharp contrast to the toothless press regulators. This hitherto obscure legislation could change that - and could see the likes of the Guardian consider signing up to a Royal Chartered regulator.

Impress is seeking this recognition; IPSO has repeated that it is not.

YOU can attend public meetings on a UK 'tour' by the PRP; see Greenslade's article for details.

Press regulation’s tortured history since the Leveson report has reached a new phase with the launch of a consultation process by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP). 
Readers who have forgotten that the royal charter remains in force, despite the formation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), may need a reminder here: the PRP, which came into being in November 2014, is the body that will decide whether press regulators meet the recognition criteria recommended in the Leveson report. 
Ipso, which was set up by some of Britain’s leading newspaper and magazine publishers, has let it be known that it will not seek recognition. But the PRP is forging ahead, as required by the charter. There are major groups that have not signed up to Ipso - including the Guardian, Financial Times and the Independent titles - plus a plethora of smaller publishers. 
And it emerged at the first of several public consultation sessions, staged at the London School of Economics on Tuesday evening, that a nascent alternative press regulator, Impress, is likely to sign up several of those small publishers. 
It appears that under the terms of the crime and courts act many hyperlocal outfits would be deemed as “relevant publishers”. So the PRP’s chair, David Wolfe QC, believes they would benefit from joining a recognised regulator in order to protect them from the imposition by courts of exemplary damages and legal costs. 
To gain charter recognition, a regulator will need to fulfil all 28 criteria and Wolfe explained that his body is currently engaged in trying to define some of those criteria that “lack clarity”.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Press bias is reflected in readers voting ... except Indie

Some useful, clear evidence of the bias of the UK national newspapers, though linking this to impact on their readers isn't quite so simple, even if the data suggests this is strong. Research looked at how the readers of different papers voted, and the link to that paper's editorial line (made explicit in 2015 for the general election, with each paper writing an editorial on how they thought readers should vote), with the left-leaning Guardian having a majority of Labour voting readers, the opposite of the right-wing papers with majority Tory voters.

The Indie advised its readers to vote for the right-wing Tory/Lib Dem coalition, but its mainly left-wing readership unsurprisingly voted Labour.

See article.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

IPSO initial review, June 2015

IPSO was launched on September 8th, 2014, following lengthy disagreement amongst the (then) three major parties on how to implement the Leveson Inquiry's Report on Press Standards. Here's how the Wiki describes it - note the scepticism ('claims'):
IPSO claims to be an independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry, and exists to promote and uphold the highest professional standards of journalism in the UK, and to support members of the public in seeking redress where they believe that the Editor's Code of Practice been breached. The Editors' Code deals with issues such as accuracy, invasion of privacy, intrusion into grief or shock and harassment. IPSO is able to consider concerns about editorial content in newspapers and magazines, and about the conduct of journalists.IPSO handles complaints, and conducts its own investigations into editorial standards and compliance. It also undertakes monitoring work, including by requiring publications to submit annual compliance reports. IPSO has the power, where necessary, to require the publication of prominent corrections and critical adjudications, and may ultimately fine publications in cases where failings are particularly serious and systemic.


June 2015 Backdrop and current issues

[doing this on a tiny keyboard; apologies for typos...]
Bearing in mind that contemporary examples should be emphasised over the historic, whether as part of an Intro paragraph, or a second/penultimate paragraph, it will often be worth setting out general context. So here's some things to consider; these also tie into any (informed) speculation on the future for media regulation

WATERSHED: a staple of many Mail moral panics, this week saw OfCom receive 200 complaints about the too revealing costumes of the female presenters, allegedly unsuitable for children (they of course featured MANY pictures of this!!!)
BBC: set for downsizing by Tory gov? Really 'independent'?
PSB, C4: At least further dereg?
PRIVACY v GOVERNMENT POWER: Snooping laws to enable near-total 'snooping'? Contrast with US?
NEW BROADCASTING BAN? Theresa May to bring through a ban on showing Islamic 'extremists'?
BBFC: Another row over banning a film breaking out... Relevant in context of digitisation?
BBFC EXPANSION: Web content, mobile content and music video
IPSO: Contradictory rulings over discrimination, but showing teeth (v S*n)? Still several papers not signed up ... but Tories against stronger reg
LEBVEDEV/INDIE: The issue of private ownership and influence on editorial highlighted by the unexpected Indie backing of the Coalition - simply used to campaign against Labour tax policies?
DENIS O'BRIEN, SUPER-INJUNCTIONS: Thought to be in the past but there are applications in court now. In Ireland, the largest media owner has managed to overturn what appeared to be existing law, and actually gagged the media from reporting on statements made in the Irish parliament (about his tax policies)!

there are themes common to many of these:

  • protection of children remains the key argument for much of our media regulatory landscape
  • government-defined 'extremism' will once again become another key factor?
  • deregulation continues as the default stance on ownership, with higher market shares likely to be pushed through, and publicly owned BBC and C4 maybe moving towards eventual privatisations
  • the impact of private ownership is clear, but is unlikely to attract new regulation
  • however, alongside such economic liberalism (free market) there is also considerable social conservatism (authoritarianism?) with age ratings on videos (and more), the 'anti-extremism' measures, and the extension of government 'snooping' powers
  • the role of wider laws and the courts continues to be just as important as formal media regulators
  • political will is key: there was little (recently or historically) to follow through on press regulation reports, but there clearly is to undermine PSB ...
  • ... which faces (as does the watershed, anti-extyremism measures, anti-privacy laws and classification/ratings) fundamental challenges from digitisation

All parties complained about the BBC's election coverage: the DUP complained Northern Ireland was excluded from the TV debate; the Greens were unhappy at the limited coverage they got, as were the SNP; and there were accusations of bias from Labour, UKIP (even the BBC audience was biased!!) Lib Dems and Tories. The Tories, however, have long been hostile towards the BBC, with Thatcher attempting to pave the way to its privatisation by appointing Lord Peacock to report on its future ... only to be shocked when the 1985 Peacock report argued that regulation of TV (and 'PSB') was not suitable for free market consitions. He noted approvingly the (supposed: see Curran and Seaton's critique) way that deregulation had brought about a free press, with the 1851 repeal of stamp duty, but argued that for TV there would be a race to the bottom and tabloidisation would occur. He wrote this before L!ve TV offered up the News Bunny and Topless Darts on Ice, rather proving his point!

So, the organisation that Lord Tebbit famously dubbed the British Bolshevik Corporation

Monday, 1 June 2015

BBFC: YouTube resources

Rather than add yet another links list, I'll embed various vids I've been looking at here.
Naturally, as censorship is the subtext of many, you need to be aware that some will contain strong language and/or explicit imagery, so consider where you're viewing any of these, being mindful of younger students in particular.

I did a simple 'BBFC' search on YouTube; I've only looked at the first few results pages (so far) - if you come across any useful additions, please pass on the link as a comment.

Interview with a BBFC 'Examiner'/Censor
The BBFC's use of language is questionable, and Foucault/Fairclough would certainly recognise their attempts to control and define the discourse through changing the 'C' to classification from censorship, and re-naming censors 'examiners'.
Anyway, this is an interview with A BBFC 'examiner', Emily Fussell. Awful sound quality, and I suspect the nervous interviewer was kicking the table, thus the intermittent loud banging noise!

She uses the example of Rocket Man where a kid climbs into a washing machine; this was cut for potential 'harm': fear of copycat behaviour. Even when looking at adult material "we tend to look at things that might be harmful to children". PG roughly aimed at 8 and upwards. "We did consumer research and discovered people didn't understand the term 'mild peril', so we don't use that term anymore."
"Its very much about labelling things, not telling adults what they can and cannot watch. From 2001 we had published guidelines, and now explain our decisions. "There was no 12; Jaws these days would be a 12" (on Jaws as a PG; similarly with Temple of Doom).