Exam date

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

Friday, 23 October 2015

BBC Savage book shows gov used licence fee threat over NI Troubles

The link is to a lengthy article - a great overview of what is a very useful case study to get into how media regulation works, both through formal regulators and media laws and informal power: private meetings, threats, controlling appointments and budgets.

It's a point I've made repeatedly in this blog: the notion of the BBC's independence is undermined by the government setting the license fee. Robert Savage's new book, and Greenslade's piece on this, highlights the very direct, explicit use of this threat by multiple governments to try and muzzle the Beeb's coverage of 'The Troubles'*.

(*That's a propaganda label which has achieved hegemonic status, successfully branding the violent conflict with aspects of a civil war as a mild outbreak of civil unrest.)

The wider parallel with the apparent assault on the BBC by the current incumbents is clear enough.
Greenslade's article is a great summary by the way of a complex but key case study in how media regulation works - including the informal, non-codified/statutory system of political pressure and influence.

Intriguing enough for me to order the book straight away! 

[3am but did just that ... only to see its £70, one of these cynically priced books designed to milk library budgets. What a shame, sounds like a great read.]

Put me in mind of that great Day Today (Chris Morris) satire of the Broadcasting Ban an enraged Thatcher brought in when both ITV and the BBC defied her over coverage of the so-called Troubles:

Thursday, 22 October 2015

LEVESON Will press be forced to pay legal costs win or lose?

The history of press regulation has been one of government fear over press reprisal, thus the 60 year record of blatantly poor self-regulation failing to see any statutory change.

That could be about to change ... though I doubt it; if the Tory government did force through a proposed change on legal costs from libel cases they would unite the entire press in their fury.

The proposal is a good example of why there is no simple solution to the issue of press regulation. Self-regulation is a bad joke that has poorly served the public and clearly failed to improve press standards, although it's too early to judge IPSO which could yet change this tawdry, self-serving history.

Yet the proposed statutory regulation is an appalling, clearly unjust idea! That the bleats of the press barons about government repression and censorship, attacks on democratic principle, lack credibility is a reflection on the industry's low standing, not the arguments they're wielding.

Greenslade puts the case forcefully that allowing anyone to sue a paper without having to pay legal costs (win or lose, the paper picks up the tab) is unfair and would pose a severe threat to the financial viability of papers, never mind the scope for abuse.

Yet...without further reform the scope to wield libel law largely remains an option only for the rich. A well meaning statutory change would both fuel press determination to resist ANY further new regulation and discredit the cause of stronger press regulation!!!

Complex, as I said!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

WIDER LAW Media unites to attack government FoI changes

A major chunk of wider law which has empowered the media could face radical dilution under government proposals. An unusually wide alliance of media organisations have registered their concerns over this.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, which has fought for greater openness for over 20 years, said he feared the government’s supposedly independent commission was made up of people, such as former government minister Jack Straw, who are known to believe that there should be more exemptions under FoI.  
“If we don’t do something about it, the act is going to be seriously restricted,” he told the SoE meeting. The campaign group is to hold a briefing on Wednesday to discuss how best to fight government attempts to introduce more restrictions. 
Asked about the government’s review of the FoI earlier on Monday, John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, denied that the current review meant that it would be overturned. 
“[In the same way] everyone thinks I am going to abolish the BBC just because I am going to look at how it works after 10 years,” he said. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

LEVESON IPSO PR war as Hacked Off fail to Impress industry

A good summary by Greenslade of the binary opposite views of Hacked Off and (most of) the press on the Leveson Report: a righteous attack on and firm legal proposals to improve the press vs an anti-democratic attack on a free press.

Hacked Off support Impress, a rival to IPSO that is seeking to win a royal charter - which would effectively put the entire press under a new legal regime, even though Impress has only signed up a farcically small number of hyper-local titles.

Without any possibility of a truce, let alone a settlement, the two sides spend a lot of time hurling verbal missiles at each other. 
The latest volley is the release of an “independent report” called Leveson’s Illiberal Legacy, produced by a press freedom group known as 89Up, published by the Free Speech Network and sponsored by three publishers: DMG Media, News UK and the Telegraph Media group. 
According to an article in the Daily Mail, the report makes “a devastating attack” on the Leveson inquiry, which “became a tool for a determined group of lobbyists [Hacked Off] to use regulation to erode press freedom.”  
The report states that laws rushed through in the wake of Leveson “pose the most substantial threat to British press freedom in the modern era”. It also poses an “imminent danger” to local newspapers. 
It calls on the government to annul the royal charter and to repeal sections of the crime and courts act.
Publishers and opponents treat the Leveson report like holy scripture.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Krotoski video series The Power of Privacy

The power of privacy – video series.

The Power of Privacy – documentary film

Aleks meets professional digital detective, Max. He’s challenged to gather as much information on her as possible. What he finds is staggering

The power of privacy (1/5): Does the internet know where you live?

Aleks travels to Las Vegas to meet hackers at the Def Con conference. There she learns first hand how easy it is to be tricked into dropping your guard

The power of privacy (2/5): Hacking exposed: the tricks of the trade

Aleks meets three security experts in a bid to take back control of her privacy

The power of privacy (3/5): What can you do when private data goes public?

Aleks heads to Japan to delve into the potential and pitfalls of open data

The power of privacy (4/5): Open data: mapping the fallout from Fukushima

Aleks explores how the internet of things will continue to reshape privacy in the future

Freedom of Information law undermined by advisory panel?

This is a key piece of wider law signifying the UK as a liberal democracy, and perhaps ironically commended by Tony Blair's contention that passing it was one of his biggest regrets.

The law, in theory at least, compels public bodies to publish information upon request.

In practice, the foot dragging this often brings is akin to King Kong with a limp. There have been numerous high profile court cases, something financially struggling newspapers are wary of.

PM Cameron appointed an advisory panel which appears to be made up of critics and opponents of FoI, as this article details.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

IPSO Tele guilty of Clause 1 Accuracy Corbyn slur

The right-wing press haven't held back from a fierce bombardment of flak aimed at new Labour (not New Labour!) Jeremy Corbyn, seeking to sink his counter-hegemonic arguments before they can achieve any foothold. It must be said that the supposedly left-wing press has acted similarly, much to the outrage of their readers - the Guardian's readers ombudsman acknowledged as much.

So, it is perhaps heartening in the context if historically pitifully weak press self-regulation to see IPSO apparently make a rare stand on Clause One of the Editors' Code: Accuracy.

While our broadcast media are fiercely regulated through the statutory body of OfCom, with the government  free to dramatically undermine the BBC's much trumpeted independence through the purse strings (and successfully agitating for the BBC to do less and get smaller), press self-regulation has often verged on the farcical.

Let's not forget that the PCC abolished itself (albeit bowing to the inevitable and strategically acting to see off any government action) for failing in its job.

So, the IPSO ruling over the Telegraph's blatant smear job has to be welcomed ... but is it enough to declare IPSO a real break from past practices, a shiny success?


Greenslade takes up the specific point on IPSO accepting without challenge the Telegraph's contention that a headline must be considered in context of the full article, a weasel logic indeed, as for many the headline will be all they read (or retain).

What about the wider point of our press' practice of filtering the news through an ideological prism to fit pre-ordained positions? Is it really a credible position that this one story stands alone as the sole example of our national press trampling over the most basic and fundamental clause in its fervour to bury Corbyn and the views he represents?