Legal office for human rights group Liberty, who backed Jon Gaunt’s high court appeal against an Ofcom ruling that said he breached the broadcasting code, argues on Index on Censorship that the high court’s decision was not a complete loss for the “shock jock”.
Gaunt lost his appeal against the industry regulator, which censured him last year for calling local councillor Michael Stark a “health nazi” in an interview about children in care.
Corrina Ferguson from Liberty says the high court has laid down some important principles with regards to freedom of expression, but failed to follow its own rules:
It is difficult to understand why calling someone a Nazi once (and in a measured tone) could be deserving of the highest protection as political speech, but saying it again with more force is not protected at all. There are of course limits on free speech and it would be nonsensical to protect absolutely one person’s right to speak freely when it would have a grave impact on the rights of others – incitement to murder being an obvious example. But there is no right not to be offended.
It is very much hoped that this aspect of the judgment will be improved upon in the Court of Appeal. There is a real danger that allowing the regulator to intervene in this type of case will have chilling effect on robust political interviews. The Human Rights Act protects shock jocks as much as flagship political commentators and free speech is no more worthy with extra syllables.
Full post on Index on Censorship…
The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), proposed by whistleblowing website Wikileaks and Icelandic MPs, has been passed by the Icelandic parliament.
The IMMI calls for better laws in the country to protect journalists and their sources, which has the potential to create a haven for investigative journalists in Iceland.
The initiatiave also wants to challenge so-called “libel tourism” and change libel laws that threaten publishers, internet hosts and sites like Wikileaks that act as a “conduit” between source and journalist.
Two amendments were made to the original proposals, according to an email update from Wikileaks:
- That the government should perform a detailed analysis, especially with respect to operational security, for the prospect of operating data centres in Iceland;
- That the government should organise an international conference in Iceland regarding the changes to the legal environment being caused by expansion of cloud computing, data havens, and the judicial state of the internet.
Nieman Journalism Lab looks at what the IMMI means for journalists and how long it will take before the proposals become law.
Index on Censorship’s 10th Freedom of Expression Awards are still open for nominations.
There are three categories: ‘Journalism’, ‘New Media’ and ‘Law and Campaigning’, honouring the ‘individuals who are leading the fight against censorship in all corners of the world’.
JOURNALISM AWARD: Recognising investigative journalism of dogged determination across a range of media including print, online, radio and television, taking into consideration impact, originality and revelation.
NEW MEDIA AWARD: Recognising innovation and original use of new technology to circumvent censorship, fostering debate, argument or dissent.
LAW AND CAMPAIGN AWARD: Recognising lawyers or campaigners who have fought repression, or have struggled to challenge political climates and perceptions. Special attention is given to people using or establishing legal precedents to fight injustice.
The nominations must be submitted at this link by 18 December.
The award winners will be announced in March 2010.