Exam date

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

Thursday, 26 November 2015

PRIVACY LIBEL Paisley name and shame racist ranters

The Paisley Daily Express (that's a Scottish city near Glasgow) has faced threats of lawsuits and had 'an office visit' since taking the bold decision to name social media posters who expressed extreme views on 50 reguees being housed in the area.

These may well fall foul of hate crime laws, which have seen jail terms handed out - most frequently for racist abuse of footballers such as Stan Collymore (retired, now a TalkSport Radio commentator).
Is this compatible with the Editor's Code clauses on privacy?

Yes. The people named and shamed posted on public forums, particularly Facebook, from where the paper got biographical details and pictures. They clearly hadn't set their profiles to private.

It's worth comparing this to the NoTW's past name and shame campaigns, which at best bent the law, never mind the Code clause, and quite purposefully whipped up a moral panic which saw paediatricians attacked by illiterate mobs.

See article. NB: features asterisked strong language.

Monday, 23 November 2015

BBC Dir Gen hints at OfCom switch

Tony Hall is arguably the worst leader the Been has had since Thatcher, enraged at the Peacock Report's refusal to back BBC privatisation, appointed the free market zealot John Birt as director general.

His internal market reforms saw a bloated bureaucracy balloon as internal departments had to treat each other as commercial concerns, and tended for everything.

Hall has caved in to government pressure to agree to taking on a government welfare policy, free license fees for pensioners (the high-voting group it is prioritizing public spending on whilst slashing spending on the young), widely seen as a fundamental undermining of the BBC's supposed independence from government.

Now he's showing some awareness of this, albeit arguably belated and without diluting his own free market reforms, and cuts to youth-centred output (youth channel BBC3 will go off-air shortly, with rumours about Radio1 and Radio6).

He's arguing that the BBC should be externally regulated, that funding reviews should be by the decade not in five yearly cycles that make it easy for governments to exert pressure, that major shifts in BBC direction should require the assent of 2/3 of parliament, with online votes from the public over smaller decisions too.

It's a detailed article; here he is on how things seemed to have changed when he rejoined the BBC in 2013 after years away:

“The foundations of the BBC’s independence became weaker. The traditions and informal arrangements which protected it had been eroded. Politicians had not done this deliberately – it happened under all parties.“First, the licence fee was spent on things that were not directly to do with broadcasting. On digital switchover. On rural broadband and local TV. Then twice it was settled without a full process.”

Friday, 20 November 2015

FAIR USAGE Google to fight takedowns as unfair cop

Huge, huge issue for both regulators and the media companies they regulate: what to do about new media platforms that often undermine established practices and laws, not least copyright law.

For a student seeking hits for their film or video work, or just getting a handle on the complex realities of the modern film or music industries, you need to know the arguments and battles that rage around YouTube and others' practices...

After a series of skirmishes with established media and others the company said it was “offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] takedowns”. 
Google’s move comes after privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation successfully defended Stephanie Lenz, a mother whose 29-second video of her son dancing to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy had been removed from YouTube after Universal Music issued a DMCA notice ordering it to be taken down. 
“With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the US, feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them,” Fred von Lohmann, Google’s copyright legal director, wrote on the Google blog.

Google offers legal support to some YouTube users in copyright battles.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

OfCom Sky Sports - sunny prospects after deregulation

Slightly curious logic to this OfCom ruling, with BT still pursuing legal action against Sky and the government attack on the BBC ensuring its no longer a serious competitor for sports rights.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

TV WATERSHED Australia dilutes regulations citing digitisation

Could this point the way to the UK's future direction? The Aussie regulator ACMA, facing down objections from 'children's' groups (a misnomer really for these conservative, often religious, pressure groups who seek to dictate what kids can/not see), has diluted the restrictions and time blocks of their version of the watershed.

For all the free market rhetoric of the Tory government, who seek now to privatise C4 and whose undermining of the BBC points the same way, the moral guardian stance continues here. The UK has recently seen a tightening of watershed regulations, with the Beeb effectively extending it! 

Regulation suits a deregulatory party just fine when it provides positive headlines in the Mail and other absurdly hypocritical right-wing papers.

The logic of the Australian regulator chief, Chapman, is hard to argue with, but logic won't determine UK policy at least until after the 2015 election!

Chapman said the changing media landscape meant “responsibility will be increasingly shared”.“The digital era has brought many challenges for broadcasters, and there were aspects of the previous code which made it difficult for them to respond and innovate,” Chapman said.“Since the previous code was registered in late 2009, there have been tremendous shifts in the media landscape,” Chapman said. “Many of the provisions in the earlier code had been around for 20 years or so – from an analog era where viewers could only source content from three commercial free-to-air channels and two national broadcasting channels.“The digital era has also brought challenges for viewers, and the new code is designed to assist them to better manage their own viewing in an environment in which responsibility will be increasingly shared between government, industry and, importantly, viewers (citizens).

Sunday, 8 November 2015

CHILDREN PRIVACY TalkTalk teen suspect seeks silence

Not a great sign for the impact or future success of IPSO in forging a press with high standards... The hacking suspect from my home county is suing three UK national papers as well as Twitter and Google for revealing his identity, something the Editors' Code bans, with no mention of the Press regulator's involvement.

HISTORY 1960 F-bomb detonates in UK press

The article linked below contains strong language as part of reportage of court proceedings in 1960 under the Obscene Publications Act, widely viewed even then as archaic but still a live factor in media regulation today.

Towards the end of the article you can read about the behind-closed-doors approach of the Press Council, which censured three papers for daring to use the 'f-word' so frequently raised in court proceedings - for daring to report accurately!

55 years on we still live in an uncertain landscape of asterisked 'swear words', whose taboo status is linked to one hegemonic, ideological view of society. The absurdity of The S*n (my asterisk denotes my distaste at this rag) treating us to 't*ts' in writing whilst featuring topless teens (even post-Page Three) is as fine an argument as any that a modern re-thinking is overdue.

How the Guardian became the first newspaper in Britain to use the F-word.

Page 3 was introduced to the world via Murdoch's new purchase, the Sun, in 1970, and tabloid rivals the Star (founded in 1978) and Mirror copied this idea of putting topless women on page 3. the Mirror would cease this in the 1980s, and has always been a more serious paper (and left-wing), and even The Sun stopped around 2015 under pressure from the social media campaign No More Page 3 (which targeted advertisers), though the Star continues to do so.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Canada readers revolt against right-wing press

Could this be a sign of a future issue for the British press? The left-wing (relatively!) opposition have just won an election despite the Press overwhelmingly urging support for the right-wing incumbents. It's been clear that this direction has been ordered by the owners.

The public outpouring of anger and disillusionment on social media does not augur well for the prospects of the printed press.

First past the post may frustrate the prospects of Corbyn's more socialist Labour and potential allies such as the Greens who (like UKIP, and the Lib Dems to a degree) gained millions of votes but minimal seats, but there certainly seems a surge of radicalism amongst the young at least - a readership that the press are failing to attract.

Whether we see anything like this in the UK or not, the article is an interesting, clear summary of how another major press (mal)functions.