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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

media reform? « Previous | |Next »
May 2, 2012

I cannot see much happening with respect to reform of the media emerging out of the Convergence Review and the Finkelston Inquiry. The Gillard Government is on its knees on the ropes and punch drunk from all the body blows to be be in any position to rock the very powerful media corporations that float on copy from the public relations world. This government is in no fit state to undertake a major overhaul of media regulation for a digital world.

BellSMurdoch.jpg Steve Bell

The Convergence Review's diagnosis was convincing for a dynamic media world. In a converged digital world it is no longer viable to argue that news and commentary in print media should be treated differently from news and commentary in television, radio and online. Secondly, the new industry-led body should cover all platforms—print and online, television and radio--but not the internet.

Hence the idea of the one stop shop---a converged Press Council and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to keep news organisations honest through news standards, adjudicating on complaints and providing timely sanctions for the wrongs. A digital economy regulator that is technology neutral is a good idea.

The problem is that the Convergence Review recommendation is for an industry self-regulation scheme eventually covering all media, with guaranteed funding – mostly from industry and some from government – and the power to impose meaningful penalties and sanctions, including forcing the publication of its adjudications. A statutory authority with a big stick was recommended by Finkelston.

An industry-led regulator, given the concentration of media ownership in Australia, that has been supported by the political class. That degree of concentration means the existing media organisations would have the same power they currently have with the Press Council – the power to do next to nothing. They have little intention of changing their media culture, they will write their own rules, they have little interest in supporting consumer empowerment and freedom in content consumption and they will oppose any tough "fit and proper person" test for a media company to hold a broadcaster licence.

This matters because the behaviour of a corrupt News International in the UK has been found to be scandalous by the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, with respect to consumers, police and politicians. They used criminal methods to advance their commercial concerns without even noticing! News Corp may well have to pull the plug on its UK newspaper operations.

You see a scenario where the media companies could starve the industry-led cross -media self-regulating body of funds to stymie its investigations into complaints.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:09 AM | | Comments (3)


a bit of jail time for the Murdoch's would be nice.--and fitting. Murdoch senior has been found not to be a “fit and proper” by a UK parliamentary committee and accused of having turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.

we've had years of deception about press regulation – the media telling the public that they were accountable when they all knew they had rigged the Press Council in their favour.

what we are going to see is the preservation of control of press and media regulation by the industry itself.