Exam date

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

Monday, 21 September 2015

IPSO Mail corrects Muslim immigrant smear story - damage done?

Its not exactly a shock to see the Mail print an inaccurate, sensationalist story stoking up racial tension and fuelling anti-immigrant sentiment ... but for once the press regulator has stepped in to insist they correct the false, misleading story.

Thats a definite point in IPSO's favour compared to the weak PCC.

BUT ... still the issue remains: is a correction enough? Will it REALLY undo the damage of the original story? Should ALL corrections be prominently featured on the front page to motivate papers to try harder to adhere to the Editor's Code?

Note too that this is another example of IPSO accepting and ruling on a third party complaint, something the PCC routinely refused to do.

Management consultant Miqdaad Versi complained to the Mail on Sunday, which responded with a letter saying it had “intended no disrespect to the Muslim religion”, but did not correct its story. Versi then took his complaint to Ipso, saying the article was based on conjecture and the religion of the gang was not relevant to the story. 
Following the complaint, the Mail on Sunday agreed to rewrite the story to remove the references to Muslims and carry a correction both in the paper and online. 
The correction said: “An article on July 26 said a gang of Muslim youths was responsible for damaging Home Office immigration enforcement vehicles in Shadwell, east London, in the week the prime minister appealed to Muslims to help combat extremism. Muslim readers have asked to point out that the youths’ religion was unclear and, in any case, irrelevant to the story. We apologise for any offence caused.” 
Versi, who is assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain but brought the complaint in a personal capacity, welcomed the correction. “The coverage of Muslims in mainstream media continues to be very negative and there are too many sensationalist headlines that generalise about Muslims. This story in particular was both inaccurate and referred to Muslims when it was irrelevant to the story,” he told the Guardian.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

OWNERSHIP Russia limits foreign ownership to 20%

In very stark contrast to British (de)regulation and laissez faire media market, dominated by foreign ownership and with the one major British success story (the Beeb) under intense threat, Russia has introduced strict ownership limits.

Jeremy Corbyn has hinted at a policy of forcing media conglomerates to break up, divest subsidiaries (with Murdoch's empire thought to be a key target) - one reason why he faces such incessant flak (yes, Chomsky's concept, filter, once more) from a hostile press.

Vladimir Putin had responded to his own dislike of media criticism by effectively forcing a series of high profile, influential western media outlets to be sold to Russian companies, reducing the likelihood of media scrutiny.

In the land of the free (market) this has not gone down well, but, although its limits have been steadily diluted, the US's main federal regulator, the FCC, also enforces limits on non-US ownership of media. Murdoch took on US citizenship to be able to expand his American holdings. He faced no such issues in the UK when buying the Sun and Times newspapers, nor when buying out BSkyB shares ... at least until the phone-hacking scandal saw public outrage trump the complicity of a friendly free market government.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

OFCOM C4 seek to fight political attack

Here's a new twist on media regulation: C4 have responded to a strongly worded attack from parliamentary authorities, condemning its exposé of senior politicians' alleged corruption as an unwarranted, unethical invasion of privacy, by calling in OfCom themselves.

C4's move is clearly intended to rebut the political attack, a novel approach.

Both the BBC and C4 appear to be under threat of privatisation from a Tory government (and right-wing press) that perceives both these PSBs as leftie, liberal outfits biased against the Tories, social conservative values, free market ideals etc

Channel 4 has asked the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to investigate a cash-for-access sting on two former foreign secretaries after criticism over its reporting of the allegations.
The parliamentary commissioner for standards cleared Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, and said the damage done to the former MPs could have been avoided if Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported the exchanges they had filmed.

The broadcaster has issued a defiant statement defending its journalism and took the unprecedented step of asking Ofcom to look at the case.
The move will put Channel 4 on a collision course with Straw, Rifkind and the parliamentary authorities, who have been quick to claim that the programme was the result of shoddy journalism.

David Cameron issued a statement through Downing Street welcoming the fact that “Sir Malcolm, and his family, can now put this distressing episode behind them”.
Insiders at Channel 4 maintain that it is in the public interest to expose politicians who are happy to use their positions for private gain.

Daniel Pearl, editor of Dispatches, said: “This programme raised important questions which concern voters about how senior politicians are able to use their public office for personal financial gain. This is a matter of public interest and was a legitimate journalistic investigation.
“We’re confident in our journalism and have decided to take the unprecedented step of inviting our statutory regulator Ofcom to investigate the report.”

Peter Preston has since written an interesting opinion piece on this for The Observer.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation has its own rules about stings. You can’t just trawl around for dirt without reasonable cause for specific suspicion. (That’s why those same rules against trawling stung the Telegraph when Vince Cable was a victim a few years ago). And Ofcom - a statutory regulator, remember - has different rules again, which Channel 4 traditionally applies with added rigour. There has to be evidence-gathering in initial investigations: no trawling. Two exhaustive stages of form-filling - first for filming, then to secure permission to broadcast - must be completed through the production process. Two lawyers sit on top of it throughout. This isn’t the wild west, or an excuse to run wild around Westminster. 
So here’s the rub. You can quite see why Rifkind and (especially) Straw felt themselves hard done by. You can understand why the MPs’ committee Hudson reports to clambered onto a high horse. But you can’t quite see why the film shown and the offers made weren’t assessed as multimedia, not just as print transcripts. Nor is it easy to understand a process where the ombudsman meets in person with aggrieved parliamentarians, but doesn’t seek personal appearances from the journalists involved. Seven years after the Telegraph’s revelations about MPs’ expenses, and 27 years after “Cash for Questions”, parliament is still doing its own regulatory thing. Channel 4 is right and feisty to take its case to Ofcom. Ipso, anxious to set standards as well as hear complaints, might prod the Telegraph to do likewise.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

FUTURE Could Corbyn reintroduce ownership limits?

It is abundantly clear that a right-wing government able to rely on generally favourable coverage from a UK press which is also largely right-wing, and which has undermined the BBC's finances so radically, will have no desire to regulate on media ownership.

Quite the opposite: should we expect Murdoch to resurrect the buyout of the 60% of BSkyB shares his conglomerate doesn't own - so inconveniently halted by public outrage over his paper's phone hacking of Milly Dowler? Probably, yes; despite the protests of the Culture Select Committee and others, the Tory Culture Secretary was set to wave it through pre-Leveson.

Now we have a left-wing Labour leader, will there be a sharp end to the consensus over free market, laissez faire media regulation? Again, probably.

Corbyn has said little on this yet, but his one utterance directly attacked concentration of ownership and many perceive Murdoch's empire as a target.

Let's not forget that Tom Watson, who doggedly pursued News International and the phone hacking story even when directly threatened by the Murdoch press, and at the cost of his marriage, is now deputy leader.

The Blairite right-wing Labour MPs will doubtless argue that Labour needs to court the likes of the Mail and the S*n - after all, Tony himself flew out to Australia to genuflect before the great man in advance if the 1997 election.

Such arguments will surely now be rejected, and we can expect to see a sustained, vicious barrage of flak to shoot down this counter-hegemonic force.

The largely hostile coverage in the Guardian suggests that there might be friendly fire too, even if Greenslade thinks the paper will be neutral.

Greenslade also states that Corbyn has to become PM to change media policy, but that isn't necessarily so. We saw under the coalition government that the backbench Select Committee undertook the scrutiny that the responsible government minister, Jeremy Hunt, appeared reluctant to, including Watson famously describing James Murdoch as a Mafia boss.

With some cross-bench support (ie, Labour, Tory and others) its recommendations could still be enacted, though whether it will put forward any radical changes, other than eviscerating the BBC, does seem unlikely.

We have also seen plenty of examples of backbench bills getting close enough to passing to force government to act.

Whatever now happens, the cosy consensus and hegemony of deregulation will at least be up for debate, marking a distinct shift in 36 years of both major parties cutting media regulation.
The current Tory Culture Secretary could face charges for leaking anti-BBC briefings to the Sunday Times: John Whittingdale accused of misleading parliament over BBC story in Sunday Times.

Friday, 4 September 2015

IPSO Unfair says Blair as Mail complaint rejected

Tony Blair, alongside his attack dog Alistair Campbell, was seen as a master manipulator of the media, winning Murdoch's support and that of The S*n after he notoriously flew out to Australia to privately meet with Murdoch and strike a deal.

Now a former PM, he complained about a Daily Mail story on his refusal to follow Parliament's demands to submit to questions over 'comfort letters' sent to IRA men, a form of legal guarantee against prosecution.

IPSO rejected his complaint and the argument that the Mail had breached Clause 1: Accuracy.

Okay, he's a Labour ex-PM, but this still shows IPSO standing up to very powerful forces.

Tony Blair attacks 'major failure' at Ipso after Daily Mail complaint rejected.