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#wef11: ‘News industry is in the vortex of a fast changing world’

October 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Press freedom and ethics

Newspapers are “in a vortex of a fast changing world”, the new president of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers Jacob Mathew, who was elected in April, said today (Thursday, 13 October) as he opened the World Editors Forum in Vienna.

His speech focused on calling for greater press freedom and new business ideas. “Soaring costs are a challenge that we should meet with innovation”, he said.

He also touched on the issue of ethics in relation to the UK phone-hacking scandal, calling for self-regulation of the press to be maintained. The print media enjoys the highest credibility, he said, and while there have been calls for new legislation it was important to note that “increased government regulation is not the answer”.

The media would be better governed by a self regulatory mechanism which holds its journalists to account, he added.

Mathew also called on print publishers to join together in the battle to protect intellectual property rights.

It is time that the print publishers get together to strategize to prevent others from freeloading on their content. We need to monetise and not lose out.

Our industry is in the vortex of a fast changing world. The challenges and the opportunities are greater than ever before.

Follow the #wef11 hashtag on Twitter and @journalism_live for updates from the World Editors Forum in Vienna over the next few days.

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Azerbaijan publishes latest media ‘blacklist’

Earlier this week we reported on Rwanda’s regulatory body the Media High Council ordering the closure of newspapers and radio stations they felt were operating “illegally”. Now Azerbaijan has produced a ‘blacklist’ of publications it feels violates rules governing journalism “behaviour”.

According to the SFN blog, the Azerbaijan’s Press Council today released the latest edition of the annual list of “racketeer” newspapers and journals – this year totalling 77 – which they claim have breached the Journalists’ Professional Behavior Rules and should be investigated. The blog quotes council chairman Aflutun Amashov:

This list is a tool for public condemnation of the press, which ignore the professional principles, publish materials, affecting the honor and dignity of people, slander, and commit other such illegal actions.

See the full post here…

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First local TV stations planned by Hunt to be licensed by 2012

July 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

The government outlined its plans for structural reform this week, including a timetable for media reform from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMA).

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for DCMS, writes in the report that he hopes to “roll back media regulation” in order to “encourage investment and create the conditions for sustainable growth”.

Plans for local media include a relaxation of the rules governing cross-media ownership by November this year and for the first of Hunt’s local TV stations to be licensed by summer 2012, with a target of creating 10 to 20 new stations by the end of parliament.

Actions laid out in the plans include changes to the media regulatory regime by reforming Ofcom and deregulating the broadcasting sector. Measures to scale back Ofcom’s duties are planned as part of a Public Bodies Reform Bill and Communications Bill, with the legislative process set to begin by November 2012.

Hunt also plans to agree the terms of a new licence fee settlement between July 2011 and April 2012.

He said these plans aim to give the public an idea of the programme to follow, but that much “broader ambitions” will be set out in the autumn in a spending review.

See the plans here…

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PCC’s credibility under attack

The Press Complaints Commission is once again under attack for its structure and effectiveness as a self-regulatory body.

Last night the Guardian reported how Sir Ken Macdonald, ­visiting professor of law at the LSE and the former director of public prosecutions, had called for “all credible media organisations” to withdraw from the “farcical” Press ­Complaints Commission (a plea which was made by Geoffrey Robertson QC last year).

The event for editors and lawyers also featured Max Clifford, former Formula 1 chief Max Mosley, former TV presenter Anna Ford, the editors of the Guardian and the Financial Times, and the deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. The Guardian also reported:

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor, said the credibility of the PCC was “clinging by its fingertips” and that recent investigations had been “embarrassing”. The PCC’s current review should work out whether it has the capacity to be a regulator or a mediator, he said.

It’s timely then, to compare Rusbridger’s quotes from last night, with Stephen Abell’s comments this week, in his first media interview since becoming director of the PCC:

Abell told Journalism.co.uk that he didn’t believe Rusbridger’s resignation from the PCC code committee Editors’ Code of Practice Committee weakened the body at all:

Alan Rusbridger has said it [the code committee] does a good job (…) I think these arguments happens within industries but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to move on from that. I don’t think it weakens the PCC in any way that Alan is leaving an industry body that he was a member of for a while. You don’t have every editor on the code committee anyway (…) I think it’s tremendous merit that Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian was on the code committee for as long as he was.

Journalism.co.uk’s interview with Stephen Abell (who took over as PCC director in December 2009):

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Will inquiries find PCC a chocolate teapot, or a serious ‘mediator’?

November 18th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Comment, Press freedom and ethics

The Press Complaints Commission enjoyed mainstream coverage this week, as newspaper titles lapped up the comments of the body’s chair, Lady Peta Buscombe, at the Society of Editors’ conference: she not only called for greater press support, but cited evidence allegedly showing that 6,000 attempted phone hackings were ‘wrongly quoted’ by solicitor Mark Lewis in the House of Commons.

Funnily enough, the papers who were so eager to report Buscombe’s words, didn’t then – save the Guardian it would seem – pick up Mark Lewis’ call for Buscombe’s resignation as PCC chair. You can read Lewis’ letter, sent to Buscombe, the select committee and copied to the Press Association, in full at this link.

Lewis has since told Journalism.co.uk:

“As I said in my [House of Commons] evidence, given immediately after that of Mr Yates [Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner], it wasn’t that I had access to documents that the police did not have, I got the documents from the police. Didn’t they read them? Didn’t they understand them?”

“The PCC has shown its true colours. If there is to be non-court regulation then it has to be from an independent tribunal that is not constituted by the press. Oddly, it would work in the press’ interest if there was a body that was willing to challenge and censor the press. As I said on Monday, we need an ‘honest and free press not just a free press’.

“My next step will be to carry on in the pursuit of honesty in reporting. If you are in any doubt, look at how many newspapers chose not to run a story that there had been a demand for Lady Buscombe to resign. The newspapers reported Lady Buscombe’s speech but not my response to it.”

Then, just as QC Geoffrey Robertson had hoped when he encouraged editors to abandon the body, news broke of Alan Rusbridger’s resignation from the PCC Code Committee.

“I have enjoyed being on the Code Committee, which does very useful work. I look forward to the results of the review of the PCC which Baroness Buscombe has announced.  The PCC is a valuable mediator. It needs to ask itself whether, as presently constructed and funded, it is a very effective regulator,” was all that the Guardian editor had to say afterwards.

His comments last week, following the PCC’s less than critical findings about phone tapping activities at News of the World, were somewhat stronger:  speaking on BBC Radio 4, the Guardian editor described the PCC’s report as ‘worse than pointless’. “If you have a self-regulation system that’s finding nothing out and has no teeth, and all the work is being done by external people, it’s dangerous for self-regulation,” he said.

The PCC has not yet responded to Journalism.co.uk’s request for comment over Rusbridger’s departure, but Buscombe today appeared on Radio 4 Media Show [as noted by Jon Slattery at this link]. Rusbridger is right, she said. “We don’t have serious powers of investigation. We are not a police force. Even Ofcom doesn’t have it. A state regulator doesn’t have it. We cannot and we must not tread on the toes of the criminal justice system. We act in many ways more as a mediator, so that we actually stop and prevent harm and therefore have a very strong role in terms of pre-publication, for example,” she said.

So what’s the point of the body at all? MP Tom Watson, who sat on the House of Commons culture and media select committee for the phone hacking inquiry, thinks not much. Running the PCC like a clan has led to Rusbridger’s resignation, he said on Tuesday. “It could spell the end of self-regulation. How silly of the new chair,” he tweeted. While in favour of self-regulation, the PCC simply isn’t doing it, he later clarified in another tweet: “[I] believe in self-regulation. And I’d like to see the PCC try it some time.”

A toothless chocolate teapot as alleged by some, or is there a realistic future for the PCC? Investigations of the self-regulation body, such as the one launched by the International Federation of Journalists; the select committee’s inquiry; and the PCC’s own review (led by a former commission member) are anticipated with interest…

NB: This post was later updated with a corrected transcript from the Radio 4 Media Show (19.11.09).

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Pulse: Press Complaints Commission to investigate Daily Mail over GP pay claims

Pulse, the leading publication for the UK medical profession, has learnt that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is formally investigating a Daily Mail story that claimed GPs are earning as much as £380,000 a year.

“A spokesman for the commission told Pulse it had received ‘seven or eight’ complaints from doctors regarding the accuracy of the Mail’s front-page story on Tuesday.

“The story, based on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 22 PCTs, claimed to have ‘found one GP earning £380,000 a year and a number pocketing more than £300,000′ – although it admitted that ‘in some cases the figures include cash GPs have to pay out for staff salaries and rents’.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) said that General Practitioners Committe (GPC) chair, Dr Laurence Buckman, had written a formal letter of complaint to the Daily Mail editor, but had not yet complained to the PCC, Pulse reports.

A Daily Mail spokesperson defended its report, in response to complaints about accuracy.

Full story at this link…

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Ofcom: Galloway’s Press TV programmes in breach of code

The Iranian government-funded international English-language channel, Press TV, has been criticised by Ofcom for its impartial treatment of content. In a bulletin published today, the broadcasting regulator said that it found two of George Galloway’s Press TV programmes, Comment and the Real Deal, in breach of its broadcasting code.

“Ofcom considered that within the Programmes overall, there was not an appropriately wide range of significant views included and that the views that were included that were contrary to the opinion of the presenter, were not given due weight. As a consequence, Ofcom considered the Programmes to have breached Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Code.”

Ofcom received complaints suggesting that the programmes ‘failed to put both sides of the argument in relation to the situation in Gaza; constituted Iranian propaganda; and that George Galloway in particular did not conduct a balanced discussion on the issue of Gaza’.

“Press TV maintained that all the Programmes complied with the rules on impartiality in Section 5 of the Code, and it highlighted how it had included sufficient alternative views within the Programmes.”

Full bulletin at this link.

Background

Last month, Journalism.co.uk looked at criticisms levelled against Press TV by its UK critics. Writing in the comments, journalist Yvonne Ridley, defended her decision to work for the channel.

In July, Journalism.co.uk asked Press TV’s legal adviser, Matthew Richardson, about the Ofcom investigation. He said:

“I don’t want to prejudice the Ofcom investigation. All stations receive complaints. I await to see what the exact nature of the complaints are.

“The fact is that Press TV is regulated by Ofcom, and is therefore under the direct scrutiny of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Codes, unlike the BBC in many instances. So even if we wanted to be a dictatorial, Stalinesque propaganda station, Ofcom simply wouldn’t allow it. Also, it would be very dull.”

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Currybet.net: Regulation, news media and election coverage

June 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Martin Belam highlights an interesting comparison in yesterday’s UK media coverage of polling day: while the BBC suspended news blog comments entirely; the Sun touted its radio station as one of the only places that would be talking about politics on the day of the elections.

The BBC must adhere to its editorial guidelines on balance/political debate (see section 4.1), while SunTalk is self-regulated by the PCC.

“[W]hat does this tell us about our regulatory framework in a converged digital media landscape?” writes Belam.

“Can it be right that ‘a newspaper with a website broadcasting radio’ can behave differently on election day from ” radio station with a website publishing text’? And come the next General Election, will we be talking about how ‘It’s SunTalk Wot Won It’?

Full post at this link…

More from Journalism.co.uk on UK media regulation in the digital age:

UK media regulation – what’s the future?

Ofcom: Where does it stand on internet regulation?

BeatBlogging.Org: ‘UK news regulation stands in the way of newsroom convergence’

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A new blog for the MST’s independent press review group

In May, Matthew Cain launched a new site, the Press Review Blog, as part of the second stage of the independent press review group’s work on behalf of the Media Standards Trust (MST). He is supporting the press review group in its examination of the effectiveness of press self-regulation, although the blog will not be part of the final review.

The first stage was the report on the current press self-regulatory system, strongly disputed by the PCC. The second stage will make recommendations for UK regulation.

The blog will track the proceedings of the current House of Commons Select Committee (latest update here) into press standards, media law and privacy.

“I’ve started the press review blog in light of the considerable focus on media and regulatory issues, for example Baby P, Alfie Patten, MPs expenses,” Cain told Journalism.co.uk.

“The MST wanted to capture some of those issues and think through what we can learn from debates about reforms to self-regulation in other areas, such as Parliament and the lobbying industry; the debates resulting from the select committee inquiry; and continuing concerns about the impact of libel and privacy cases on the freedom of the press.

“The review group has been following the select committee hearings closely but because the committee’s inquiry is so extensive and might not publish until the autumn, we wanted to ensure that there we still had a public presence to participate in relevant debates.

“The blog isn’t intended to be a formal contribution to the review but a space to log issues, develop our thinking and ensure that our work is as transparent and open as possible.”

Matthew Cain can be contacted via matthew DOT cain AT mediastandardstrust.org or by calling 020 7608 8112.

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Meyer’s letter to the Media Standards Trust in full

As reported on the main Journalism.co.uk site, here is the letter sent by the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Sir Christopher Meyer, to the Media Standards Trust in response to its request for participation in stage two of its ‘A More Accountable Press’ report:

More »

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